tl;dr This is good for bitcoin.
Yesterday we saw a phenomenal social engineering attack on one of the world's largest social networks. Attackers reportedly gained access to dozens of verified accounts via credentials finagled from one or more Twitter employees with high-level access. Passwords didn't stop them. Multifactor authentication didn't stop them. They bypassed all standard defenses by finding the right person inside Twitter to dupe.
The result? Under the guise of a health charity, they posed as verified celebrities, politicians, and crypto personalities to tweet a new angle an old scam: "give us bitcoin, and we will give you double back."
It's hard to say how many people fell for it, but we took a peek at the address (before they cleaned it out) and saw 12.86 bitcoin, just under $120k at the time I write this. Now, I doubt people really paid up that much. It's more likely the scammers kept transferring their own funds into the address to make it look like other people were participating (lends legitimacy to the scam), so who knows for sure how many people fell for it and at what cost? That's beside the point. The point is that these people took control of Twitter for a short period and put bitcoin front and center for millions of "normies."
Is this a good look or a bad look for bitcoin? Probably a little bit of both. For the naysayers, it may perpetuate the myth that bitcoin is only for "bad guys," but for the people who think a bit more critically, they'll see that it really means bitcoin is solidifying itself as the native currency of the internet. Yes, this use case was nefarious, but the attackers valued bitcoin because it was digital, easily transferable, and required no middleman to approve the transaction. Combined with the innate scarcity of bitcoin as an asset, all of these traits make for the perfect online currency for non-nefarious reasons, and that's why one bitcoin is worth over $9,000 right now.
To be clear, bitcoin was neither hacked (as some have said) nor caused the hack. The OPSEC issue at Twitter would have been exploited regardless. Bitcoin is not to blame here. Instead, it is riding the coattails of the bad publicity for Twitter, which means great publicity for bitcoin. Think of the millions of individuals who follow Bill Gates, Kanye West, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and more. Those celebrities and politicians rarely if ever have a thing to say about bitcoin (with a few exceptions), and now the seed has been planted in all their followers' minds.
If you are a bitcoin veteran, I encourage you to seize this opportunity to proselytize to your friends, family, and co-workers. Twitter has given you a rare shot at explaining bitcoin to your colleagues during the next office zoom call or to your neighbors at the next socially distanced barbecue. Nearly everyone will have heard about this, so for once, you'll be able to talk bitcoin because of your audience not despite them.
In the meantime, I imagine there is a lot of intense OPSEC training in store for the big social networks and other silicon valley elites. I know I will be reviewing best practices with our team at Lolli. These threats are ongoing for the big and the small, especially in our industry, but it only takes a little education and some keen spidey senses to make sure you don't fall victim to social engineering.