- Hackers breached many high-level Twitter accounts, including Joe Biden’s and Elon Musk’s, to post a BTC giveaway scam.
- Critics have called for a regulatory crackdown on decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
- The crypto community has fired back, stating that centralized platforms are the true culprits.
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Yesterday, a series of identical tweets promoting a Bitcoin giveaway began appearing across Twitter profiles with large followings. The list of hacked accounts included Apple, Uber, Bill Gates, and many others.
The financial damage has been minimal, however, as the hackers only earned a little over $100,000 in BTC. Still, the severity of the event and Bitcoin’s involvement have sparked fresh calls for a ban on the market’s top cryptocurrency.
Twitter Hackers Use Highly-Traceable Bitcoin
Several unconfirmed theories have emerged as to how exactly the hackers breached the world’s most popular social media site. Possible attack vectors may have included insider dealings, social engineering, or compromising Twitter’s backdoors.
Many users took to Twitter to call for banning Bitcoin, including New York Times Journalist Josh Barro.
You know, we wouldn’t have to worry about this sort of thing if cryptocurrency was illegal.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 15, 2020
Though Bitcoin has made headlines, the hackers merely used Bitcoin as a means of payment. The choice in cryptocurrency was poorly thought out, as blockchain forensics technology can quickly trace on-chain operations.
Researchers can now deanonymize popular obfuscation services like Tor, making Bitcoin an unattractive tool for criminals.
Still, the damage could have been much worse.
Though the attackers gained unfettered access to some of the most influential brands and people in the world, in the end, they leveraged their power to deploy a relatively harmless Bitcoin scam.
Indeed, events could have transpired much differently as malicious actors could have easily sparked deadly international conflicts. With so much at stake, astute observers are shifting their criticism from Bitcoin to that of centralized platforms. The U.S. Congressman, Tom Emmer, tweeted:
Bitcoin isn’t the problem. Centralized control is.
— Tom Emmer (@RepTomEmmer) July 16, 2020
Besides the ongoing criticism of Twitter’s central point of failure, Congress has had similar concerns regarding Facebook’s Libra, and it’s centralizing influence over users’ funds.
It took Twitter’s team several hours before it began blocking compromised accounts. Arguably, this could be done faster in a decentralized setting, where users could use a voting-like mechanism to tag suspicious accounts.
Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder of Ethereum, criticized Twitter’s centralization and said that getting these accounts back may be a lengthy process.
I have friends who today have twitter accounts they are locked out of and they contacted support weeks ago and the backdoor isn’t helping.
One already just created a new account 😥
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) July 16, 2020
In the latest, Twitter is now blocking any tweets that feature a blockchain address.
Few Decentralized Alternatives
Twitter is not the only platform that occasionally becomes a playground for scammers. Instagram and YouTube are frequently attacked too.
Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, even went as far as suing YouTube because his complaints about impersonators weren’t addressed in line with his expectations. Brad wasn’t happy with Instagram, as well.
BE AWARE! Don’t respond to fake Instagram requests from “me.” After 7 wks and multiple asks to take down ‘bradxrp’, I get this form rejection…@Instagram telling me that it actually is me!
— Brad Garlinghouse (@bgarlinghouse) January 4, 2019
Centralized social media platforms are unlikely to be replaced with decentralized alternatives anytime soon.
The latest Twitter hack has, however, made users more aware of the flaws in current Internet infrastructure. Consequently, this may foster the adoption of decentralized platforms in the future.