JEDDAH/RIYADH: After Wednesday’s Twitter hack against social media sites’ verified accounts, Saudis showed no signs of worry as to whether or not this in any way endangers their online activity.
The bitcoin scam that took over Twitter came in the guise of a charitable request to help the world through the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with a code attached at the bottom to transfer bitcoin with the promise of an increase to double the amount offered.
Accounts like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West were among those sending the tweet due to the hack.
As a result, the bitcoin wallet managed to collect $110,000, and Twitter had to suspend several verified accounts. Saudi cybersecurity expert Abdullah Al-Jaber told Arab News that hackers use bitcoin to get money from people because it is untraceable.
“Unlike banking systems, cryptocurrency doesn’t have a regulator to check how the money is being collected and used,” he said.
In this Twitter hack, the attacker leveraged verified accounts to carry out the scam. Due to social engineering, some people believed it to be true and they transferred their money for a quick cash-back, he explained, adding that the bitcoin wallet collected up to 400 transactions.
Al-Jaber said that people should not fret. “I believe at this point, there’s no concern for a user to lose their account. However, they should always be alert whenever someone suspicious or a scam message pops up asking for money or sending conspicuous links,” he said.
Based on tweets from the Twitter Support, the hack was diagnosed to be due to an internal issue. The hackers managed to target Twitter employees who had access to internal systems and tools.
Rania Al-Ghamdi, a 28-year-old Saudi from Jeddah, thought that people should know better than to trust monetary exchanges online in this age.
“If anyone sends you asking for money so they can double it up and return it, that’s a scam … no matter who is that person, famous or not,” she told Arab news.
She also believes that anyone who promotes bitcoin instead of actual currency is pretty much involved in illegal actions.
“I think people nowadays are more aware and have more experience about these scams. Most people know that bitcoin is not a legitimate currency, therefore no one would fall for it. However, hacking social media accounts is exposing personal information which is the dangerous part, not the scams,” she added.
Nora Al-Rifai, a life coach from Jeddah, talked about a similar hacking wave that swept through the Kingdom recently.
“Just a few months ago, there was a similar hack going around WhatsApp between family and friend groups. It was a lot heftier as well, as the hacker managed to get your chat details and imitated your chat patterns to the point where it was believable. But you still make sure who your money is being sent to or if it is going where you think it’s going. To your uncle who suddenly messaged you to transfer SR 500, or your friend who couldn’t get her card to swipe at an H&M.”
Al-Rifai said that the tweets smelled like a scam once she had seen them.
“I feel bad for the victims, but again, this goes to show how you shouldn’t believe everything you read just because it’s from a verified account,” she added.
Jana Baleegh, a 19-year-old university student in Jeddah, was speechless when she saw the numbers.
“I can’t believe 400 people fell for it,” she told Arab News, “but that’s the influence of social media and celebrities. People tend to believe them over common sense.”