The recent hack on Twitter has stunned the world. It is deemed as a point of downfall for Bitcoin’s regulatory aspirations. Bitcoin is already distrusted in Washington and US President Donald Trump along with some other lawmakers think of it as a criminal activity. Bearing witness to this statement is the 2019 tweet by Trump where he stated that he is not a bitcoin fan adding that “unregulated crypto-assets can facilitate unlawful behaviour.” It is also reported that he instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “go after Bitcoin.”
But, the focus soon shifted from the role of the cryptocurrency towards the security issues of the centralized system of Twitter.
This scam of $100,000 netted by the hackers included the accounts of renowned personalities such as Elon Musk, Kanye West, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and cryptocurrency exchanges among others. The temporary disability of these verified accounts to tweet or reset their password was the step taken by Twitter. It was further reported by experts that the security issue occurred in the core system of Twitter.
The Swift Response From Lawmakers
In an open letter to Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a vocal critic of tech platforms stated that the attack “may represent not merely a coordinated set of separate hacking incidents but rather a successful attack on the security of Twitter itself.” He further expressed his concern about the risk to President Trump’s account and the magnitude of data that can be stolen if this happens.
The discussion on implementing end-to-end encryption of users’ direct messages also came to light. This discussion took place in 2018 between Sen. Ron Wyden and Dorsey where Wyden stressed the importance of encrypting sensitive information shared between users as direct messages. At the time, Dorsey told Wyden that they are working towards encrypted DMs which still has not been implemented.
Wyden issued a statement on this matter saying “This is a vulnerability that has lasted for far too long, and one that is not present in other, competing platforms. If hackers gained access to users’ DMs, this breach could have a breathtaking impact for years to come.”
Clarifying The Situation
The said hack is not deemed by the supporters as lasting damage to the crypto industry.
Neeraj Agrawal, the Coin Centre Director of Communications noted that Twitter being compromised was the real threat while Bitcoin remains robust. He further added that the goal of the hackers was not to make money as only $123,200 in bitcoin flowed through the wallet listed.
The hack brings out the vulnerabilities of a centralized system where a single point of failure can be fatal to the sensitive data of numerous people. In this matter, Agrawal stated that “Somebody who has limited access to the admin panel on Twitter was able to do so much damage because Twitter is a centralized server.” He believes that the crypto industry and the approach of lawmakers towards it will not be affected by this incident.
“Even though maybe it’s been broadcast to more people than ever before, the kind of people who are watching it closely, like policymakers for example, see this and … they’re not surprised by the capability for this,” he said. “I hope that they see this, and they know that there’s nothing new here, there’s nothing to react to when it comes to Bitcoin policy.”
The executive director of the Blockchain Association, Kristin Smith, brings this to the notice that the response from the White House is still awaited but it is hoped to reflect the promising response from the existing lawmakers. She further intensified her statement through a tweet by rep. Tom Emmer in which he stated that the root cause for this incident was the centralized system.
She also passed a statement saying “I would say 99% of policymakers are not thinking about blockchain or cryptocurrency. And so anytime that you have national headlines that deal with a hack of this size and magnitude, and Bitcoin is sort of involved in the process, for the uneducated it’s a bad association because they then think that Bitcoin is sort of a preferred tool of criminals. Those of us that work in the industry and know it, study it, the policymakers who spent the time to learn about it, know that that’s not the case.”
According to Kristen, this hack may be an eye-opener for the crypto sceptics. In an attempt to prevent any potential hacks, exchanges have begun blacklisting the addresses used by the hackers.
Agrawal hopes that this may lead to a discussion for identifying the potential benefits of implementing crypto similar to the ones being carried out by the Russian political activists or the attempts to avoid currency freezes.
He stated that “We got lucky, because hackers have unprecedented access to a massively important system where so much damage [could have happened]. I mean, it’s mind-numbing the amount of payoffs they could have caused in a few minutes. But instead they went for bitcoin.”
The Criminal Possibilities
Another letter was sent to Dorsey in which James Comer, head of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, demanded a briefing on the preventive measures by Twitter to control the damage including the time taken in reporting the incident to the FBI.
He also included in his letter that “Twitter’s failure not only created an opportunity for criminals to perpetrate a crime broadcasted to millions of Twitter’s users, but the hackers’ potential breach of Twitter’s security poses broader risks regarding hackers’ access to private direct messages.”
Dorsey received another letter raising similar concerns as of Hawley’s. Sent by Senate Commerce Chair Roger Wicker, this letter was aimed at the potential dilemma that can occur through the spreading of wrong information especially through high-profile accounts.
Rep. Frank Pallone also issued a statement to stress the potential threats to the coming elections and asked Twitter to “get to the bottom of the hack and implement necessary safeguards.”
The hack was also directed towards a full investigation at the state level by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He further stressed on the matter by stating that “With more than 300 million users, Twitter is a primary source of news for many, making it a target for bad actors. This type of hack by con artists for financial gain can also be a tool of foreign actors and others to spread disinformation and – as we’ve witnessed – disrupt our elections.”
This hack is believed to continue such discussions and ramp up the pressure on social media platforms similar to Twitter over their content moderation, disinformation and foreign interference.