Twitter said it was investigating a “security incident” after posting bogus tweets about accounts offering to send $ 2,000 for every $ 1,000 sent to a Bitcoin address.
Among those involved were former US President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and billionaire Elon Musk.
Businessman Mike Bloomberg, Amazon chef Jeff Bezos, reality star Kim Kardashian, rapper Kanye West, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and corporate accounts for Uber and Apple reportedly also been affected by the scam.
Blockchain records have shown that the suspected scammers had received more than $ 100,000 in cryptocurrency, according to Reuters.
Just before 11:00 p.m. UK time, Twitter said it was investigating a “security incident affecting the accounts,” adding, “We are investigating and taking action to correct it. We will update everyone shortly. ”
The cause of the breach has still not been revealed, and meanwhile Twitter has prevented some users from tweeting and resetting their passwords while investigations continue.
Some of the offending tweets were deleted, but on some accounts, such as Musk’s, they quickly reappeared.
Experts were surprised at the scale of the incident, suggesting that hackers could have accessed it via the Twitter system, rather than through individual accounts.
Michael Borohovski, director of software engineering for security company Synopsys, said: “It is very likely that the attackers could have hacked the back end or the service layer of the Twitter application.
“If hackers have access to the Twitter backend, or direct access to the database, there is nothing to stop them from looting data in addition to using this tweet scam as a distraction,” he added.
Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, said: “This seems to be the worst hack on a large social media platform.
“We are fortunate that, given the power to send tweets from the accounts of many famous people, the only thing hackers have done is a scam of around $ 110,000 in bitcoin from around 300 people.” ”
Shares on Twitter fell more than 3% in trading Wednesday afternoon in the United States.