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As I prepared to send this newsletter out last week, something strange happened. In the afternoon of July 15, a colleague alerted a Bitcoin Magazine Slack channel that the Twitter accounts for major cryptocurrency exchange Binance and its founder Changpeng Zhao (CZ) had apparently been hacked. Soon after, another colleague said that the account for cryptocurrency exchange Gemini was also hacked.
Quickly, it was clear that dozens of leading cryptocurrency accounts were compromised, as were those of leading public figures who are not directly connected to cryptocurrency at all. A noncomprehensive list of people and companies whose accounts were hacked includes CoinDesk, @Bitcoin, Elon Musk, Bitfinex, Apple, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian West.
And they were all promising to give out bitcoin.
“We have partnered with CryptoForHealth and are giving back 5,000 BTC to the community,” many of the first messages read. “See more here: [Insert phishing link].”
Soon, compromised individual profiles, like Kanye West’s, tweeted out offers to double any BTC sent to listed addresses. There appeared to be three different addresses shared across these messages. At least one analysis shows that the hackers successfully netted $121,000 in bitcoin across 400 payments through these attacks. And Coinbase has said that it blacklisted the hackers’ wallet address and blocked more than 1,000 users from sending an additional $280,000.
All told, Twitter has said that 130 accounts were targeted in the attack, and 45 of them had their passwords reset so that the scam tweets could be sent out. It indicated that the hackers targeted Twitter employees in a “social engineering scheme” intended to coax confidential information from them.
“The attackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their…