Elon Musk's Twitter account is making headlines again, as none other than the real life Tony Stark saw his own, highly used Twitter account get hacked, along with promising free Bitcoin and Ethereum to his over 22.5 million followers. In the same week, we reported about Elon Musk's Medium.com hack and crypto-giveaway as well.
Elon Musk, the CEO and Co-founder of Tesla was the latest in a long line of popular victims of hacking incidents on Twitter, but not for the first time, unfortunately. Along with the usual string on inspirational posts that he comes forward with, his impersonator went ahead and used his account to join in on the thread by offering cryptocurrency tips.
This individual masquerading as the real Musk, built on the previous promise to “take [Tesla] private”, announcing that he planned to instigate a reorganization of its systems, including the addition of Bitcoin and Ethereum payment methods, stating that they represent “one of the steps in moving forward.”
While hosting over 22.5 million followers, the amount of attention that they and others were paying to Musk's feed when that series of posts were made remains to be seen. As a result, it's challenging to fully know how far this news spread. What is demonstrable is that there have been more than enough people on the social media platform that did fall for it. While others were immediately skeptical of the prospect, accusing Musk of stealing from people.
Others still questioned how exactly a fake ‘Musk' was able to get hold of a highly credible looking account, complete with a Twitter-Verified status.
There have been an increasing number of fraudulent account practices that have been seen on social media, with Twitter being the most prominent example of it. The fraudulent accounts almost always attempt to emulate high-profile cryptocurrency celebrities or famous advocates of them. In the past, these have included the likes of Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum's co-founder and creator, and the cybersecurity expert, John McAfee.
This isn't the first time that a hacker has compromised and used Musk's identity to trick users. In February, a fake Elon Musk profile on Twitter had announced that it was giving out 400 ETH to fans.
Twitter went on to urge its users to express vigilance when it comes to fraudulent accounts and activity, reiterating the need for users to have better defense frameworks to safeguard their profiles.
Excerpt from its statement on The Verge:
“We’re aware of this form of manipulation and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner.”
While this is the line expressed by Twitter, there are many fake profiles that remain in operation, proving to be more than an arduous task for Twitter to govern effectively.
A Dissection of the “Free Cryptocurrency” Ploy
As of right now, there are hundreds of fake accounts on Twitter, the vast number of them having promises to send free cryptocurrencies to victims. According to Sky News, in a report from February, found that a single Twitter-based scam had resulted in the siphoning off of as much as £50,000 in a single day, and with this recent news, the number of cases is simply rising.
The trick to lure victims is stupidly simple. All the hackers need to do is urge victims to send a set quantity of any sort of cryptocurrency units to their posted wallet address. In exchange for their initial transaction to the ‘user', they go on to promise a far higher yield return at a later date.
These sorts of tricks have proven alarmingly effective in the past, and especially now, so much so that it's become a trick that involves targetting much bigger and more legitimate personalities due to clarification to their followers. It's become so effective that a number of personalities online, most notably Vitalik Buterin, have had to actively change their profile names on Twitter to include “Not Giving Away Free Ether” in the middle of it, serving as a highly explicit statement.
The only defense a Twitter user can apply to safeguard himself is to stay doubtful of profiles promising free cryptocurrencies – even if they are verified.