Cybersecurity Expert John McAfee has warned of advances in hacking methods after his personal Twitter account was hijacked to promote a number of alternate cryptocurrencies last week.
The founder of computer security company McAfee had regularly been posting a ‘Coin Of The Day’ review on his Twitter page. The hackers gained access to his account by changing his phone number to request a new password.
They then posted a series of Tweets using McAfee’s profile to promote a number of coins on Dec. 28, as cypherpunk Jameson Lopp shared on Twitter:
Speaking to RT after the incident, McAfee said he had no control over the situation.
“What happened is brand new to me. They managed to hack AT&T to move my phone number to another phone”
The series of tweets saw the value of the cryptocurrencies touted rise in value - and McAfee believes the hackers would have made a lot of money in the process.
“Why would they do that? Because I was issuing every day a recommendation for new alternative coins, alternative to Bitcoins cryptocurrencies. People would invest hundreds of dollars into these coins. What the hacker did was to recommended six different coins within six minutes and invested, I’m sure, much money beforehand into those.”
The cybersecurity expert speculated that the hack may have been an inside job. He suggested that an AT&T official was bribed to give the hackers access to his account.
McAfee also estimated that the hackers may have made millions of dollars, which would easily compensate any bribe needed to carry out the attack.
McAfee only regained access to his Twitter account three days later. He posted a couple of tweets confirming that his account had been compromised while hitting out at users that had ridiculed the situation.
Urgent: My account was hacked. Twitter has been notified. The coin of the day tweet was not me. As you all know... I am not doing a coin of the day anymore!!!!— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) December 27, 2017
Though I am a security expert, I have no control over Twitter's security. I have haters. I am a target. People make fake accounts, fake screenshots, fake claims. I am a target for hackers who lost money and blame me. Please take responsibility for yourselves. Adults only please.— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) December 28, 2017
Exchanges could be next target
McAfee also warned that cryptocurrency exchanges are the biggest targets for cybercriminals as they hold millions of dollars worth of virtual currency.
“Most people don’t keep their currencies on their own wallet, they use wallets on the exchanges. Now, if I were a hacker trying to hack into wallets and get money, I wouldn’t search around the world for individuals that have their wallets. I would go to an exchange and the exchanges have billions of dollars in cryptocurrency.”
Reflecting back on the infamous Mt.Gox exchange debacle where 850,000 Bitcoins were stolen by hackers, McAfee predicts more of the same in the future.
“Beginning with Mt.Gox a couple of years ago where hundreds of millions of dollars were lost... This will continue to happen until people and the owners of the exchanges understand that the world they are in is far more sophisticated in terms of hacking than they believe.”
It’s not hard to agree with McAfee’s sentiments towards hacking given some of the recent attacks. Mining service Nicehash was hit in December, losing over 4,000 Bitcoin valued at $60 mln at the time.
This situation once again puts a highlight on the importance of individuals educating themselves on some of the safety measures they can use to secure their digital funds.