Elon Musk’s tweets piss me off for two reasons.
When he’s not accusing actual heroes of sex crimes or trolling the federal government, it’s what comes after that drives me batshit. The top reply to most of his tweets is some asshat impersonating him to try to trick his followers into falling for a bitcoin scam.
These “get rich quick” scams are fairly simple. A hacker hijacks a verified Twitter account using stolen or leaked passwords. Then, the hacker swaps the account’s name, bio and photo — almost always to mirror Elon Musk — and drops a reply with “here’s where to send your bitcoin,” or something similar.
The end result appears as though Musk is responding to his own tweet, and nudging hapless bitcoin owners to drop their coins into the scammer’s coffers.
One of the latest “victims” was @FarahMenswear. The clothing retailer — with some 15,500 followers — was hacked this morning to promote a “bitcoin giveaway.” In the short time the scam began, the bitcoin address already had more than 100 transactions and over 5.84 bitcoins — that’s $37,000 in just a few hours’ work. Many Twitter users said that the scammers “promoted” the tweet — amplifying the scam to reach many more people.
On one hand, this scam is depressingly easy to pull off that even I could’ve done it. Depressing on the other, because that’s half a year’s wages for the average reporter.
Still, that $37,000 is a drop in the ocean to some of the other successful scam artists out there. One scammer last week, this time using @PantheonBooks, made $180,000 in a single day by tricking people into turning over their bitcoin and promising great returns.
Why is the scam so easy?
Granted, it’s clever. But it’s a widespread problem that can be largely attributed to Twitter’s nonchalant, “laissez-faire” approach to account security.
The common thread to all of these cryptocurrency scams involve hijacking accounts. Often, hackers use credential stuffing — that’s using the same passwords stolen from other breaches on other sites and services — to break into Twitter accounts. In nearly all successful cases, the hacked Twitter accounts aren’t protected with two-factor authentication. Brand accounts shared by multiple social media users almost never use two-factor, because it’s hard to share access tokens.
A Twitter spokesperson said it’s improved how it handles cryptocurrency scams and has seen a significant reduction in the amount of users who see scammy tweets. The company also said that scammers are constantly changing their methods, and Twitter is trying to stay one step ahead. In many cases, these scams are nuked from the site before they’re even reported.
And, Twitter said it regularly reminds account owners to switch on stronger security settings, like two-factor authentication.
Well, enough’s enough, Twitter. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. So maybe it’s about time you bring the water a little closer.
Until something better comes along, Twitter should make two-factor authentication mandatory for verified accounts, especially high-profile accounts — like politicians. It’s no more of an inconvenience than switching on two-factor for your email inbox or other social networking account. The settings are already there — it even rolled out the more secure app-based authentication a year ago to give users the option of switching from the less-secure text message system.
If the only other option is to stop Elon Musk from tweeting…
Bitcoin turned 10 years old, a milestone for a technology that few have used and even fewer understand. Ultimately, the blockchain it wrought could be the biggest change to banking, finance and politics ever — or it could be a dud. The jury is still out, but let’s take a walk down memory lane and see just how the product grew from White Paper to world beater.
Crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin rely on enormous amounts of computing power, and therefore electricity. As the crytpo-boom gathered steam last year, the unsustainability of this approach was noted, with the energy used to run these computations making a significant contribution to climate change. Now scientists have calculated how long it would take before Bitcoin tips the world into a dangerous climate single-handedly, should it become the dominant form of currency transaction.
The Paris agreement commits the world to maintaining temperatures at no more than 2ºC (3.6ºF) above pre-industrial levels. Even that level may be unsafe, with 1.5 ºC (2.7 ºF) a better choice, but there are very few qualified climate scientists who argue we have room to go higher.
After considering the gas already emitted, estimations of how much carbon dioxide we can release without crossing that threshold range from 231-745 billion tonnes, depending on various assumptions. A paper in Nature Climate Change calculates that Bitcoin alone caused the release of the equivalent of 69 million tonnes of CO2 in 2017, taking into account the spread of where the computations were done.
Whether paying for porn, illegal drugs, and currency speculation is the best way to use one three-thousandth of the world’s remaining carbon stocks is a political matter, not a scientific one. However, Dr Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii Manoa and co-authors demonstrate that the contribution could become much larger.
“Globally, ~314.2 billion cashless transactions are carried out every year, of which Bitcoin’s share was ~0.033% in 2017,” the paper notes. However, the people who caused the value of Bitcoin to rise in value thousands of times were doing so because they expected the currency to have a much bigger future.
Mora considered the rate of adoption of 40 widespread technologies, such as credit card payments and mobile phones. If Bitcoin were to rise as fast as the median of these examples, and the energy sources remain the same, it would consume the lower estimate of the world’s carbon reserves in 16 years. Even at the rate of the slower technologies, it would take 22 years before we would be in dangerous climate territory, even if not a single lump of coal was burned for any other purpose.
The calculations assume that we continue powering crypto-currencies using the current mix of fuels in the countries where calculations have been run. Some bitcoin miners have tried to address the issue by powering their computers using renewable electricity. Often, however, these projects have simply diverted existing hydro energy that would otherwise have been used for a different purpose, rather than stimulating the growth of low carbon sources.
In this context, the damage Bitcoin is doing to the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence looks minor, but if we can’t find aliens, maybe they blockchained themselves to extinction.
You know you’re in trouble when you’ve lost Carlos Matos.
The walking meme made famous by his unbridled enthusiasm for Bitconnect, a cryptocurrency project strongly resembling a Ponzi scheme that shut down its lending and exchange platform in January, is now here to offer some measured words of caution. Namely, stay the hell away from bitcoin.
“Bitcoin Is A Scam,” he tweeted on October 26. “Sell Everything It’s NEVER Going Back Up”
Bitcoin Is A Scam. Sell Everything It’s NEVER Going Back Up
— Carlos Matos (@CarlosMatos80) October 26, 2018
Matos, of course, is best known for promoting a likely scam himself. He launched into meme infamy in October of 2017 after a video of him singing Bitconnect’s praises went viral.
Importantly, this was all before the price of a BCC token shot up to around $437, and then crashed back down to its current price of $.67.
If you haven’t seen the clip, recorded at a Bitconnect gala in Thailand, you should go ahead and watch it now. We’ll wait.
His proclamations of “I love Bitconnect!” were endlessly remixed, and Matos — a self-proclaimed Bitconnect investor — quickly became the face of the project.
Needless to say, none of this worked out so well for him. Even John Oliver took a swing at Matos on Last Week Tonight.
And while Matos surely regrets the day he heard of Bitconnect, you can’t say he didn’t learn anything from the mess he helped create.
Which, to be clear, is that bitcoin is a scam.
People are definitely spending bitcoin, just maybe not the kind of people proponents of cryptocurrency adoption had in mind.
A lengthy indictment from the Justice Department dropped today, accusing seven Russian intelligence officers of conspiring to hack anti-doping agencies around the world in retaliation for their efforts to expose Russian athletic doping. And, at least according to the US officials, the GRU hacking group mined bitcoin to fund its efforts.
“The pool of bitcoin generated from the GRU’s mining activity was used, for example, to pay a United States-based company to register the [phishing] domain wada-arna.org through a payment processing company located in the United States,” reads the indictment. “The conspirators used the same funding structure—and in some cases, the very same pool of funds—to purchase key accounts, servers, and domains used in their anti-doping related hacking activity.”
As a result, the Justice Department is charging the seven Russian officers with “[conspiring] to launder money through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.”
Clearly, the GRU officers’ efforts at anonymity failed in the longterm. Their hacking efforts, on the other hand, appear to have largely succeeded.
The indictment lays out how the group stole the medical information of around 250 athletes, and released that information — sometimes in altered form — to “damage the reputations of clean athletes from various countries by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.”
Interestingly, the officers — operating under guise of a hacking group named Fancy Bear — aggressively courted reporters in an effort to spread their propaganda. The indictment claims they hit up around 116 reporters on Twitter offering access to the hacked and secretly altered docs, and exchanged emails with around 70 reporters.
The list of the GRU’s targets, at least in this specific campaign which reportedly began as earlier as 2014, include organizations based in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, and Mexico. Specifically, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, the International Association of Athletics Federations, The Court of Arbitration for Sport, and FIFA were all targets.
But there was more. The same hackers also hit a Pennsylvania nuclear energy company, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory. The latter had done work analyzing “the chemical agent connected to the poisonings of a former GRU officer and others in the United Kingdom,” notes the indictment.
Essentially, it reads as if this crew was out for revenge on behalf of the Russian government. It just so happens that bitcoin paved the particular road there.
New York (CNN Business)Who owns and trades bitcoin? Young, relatively well-off men living in big cities.
Attention, Scrabble enthusiasts! A whopping 300 new words have been added to Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, including a few that are sure to satisfy millennials and aggravate everyone else: Bitcoin, emoji and botnet.
Merriam-Webster likes to keep up with the hip, younger crowd and often adds words that began as slang but infiltrated the average person’s vocabulary.
‘Ew,’ ‘bizjet’ (a jet used for business purposes, of course), ‘aquafaba,’ ‘facepalm,’ ‘hivemind,’ ‘macaron,’ ‘yowza,’ ‘beatdown,’ ‘zomboid,’ ‘twerk,’ ‘sheeple,’ ‘wayback,’ ‘bokeh,’ ‘frowny,’ ‘puggle,’ ‘nubber‘ and ‘OK’ are also among the new entries.
“OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time,” Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster editor-at-large, told The Associated Press. “Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game.”
OK may not be worth much, but bizjets could garner up to 120 points.
Earlier this month, Merriam-Webster added 800 new words to their flagship English dictionary, including ‘TL;DR,’ ‘instgramming,’ ‘fintech,’ ‘biohacking,’ ‘rando’ and ‘bingeable.’