A hacker attack, a fake news and a post about X: this was enough to suddenly make the value of Bitcoin. Yet another event that says a lot aboutextreme volatility of what is considered the queen of cryptocurrencies.
But let’s proceed in order, here’s what happened in these hours.
The fake news on Bitcoin: what happened yesterday?
It all started yesterday, Tuesday 9 January 2024, when the X/Twitter account of Securities and exchange commission (Sec) – the body that supervises the US stock market – has published a decidedly suspicious post.
The post contained an update regarding the regulatory status of Bitcoin ETFs, a financial product which, if approved by the SEC, it would allow you to invest in Bitcoin as if they were ordinary shares. The publication, which also contained an image with a false quote attributed to Gary Gensler (President of the SEC), was subsequently removed, and it was the Securities and Exchange Commission itself that clarified the incident:
“The SEC detected unauthorized access and activity on the @SECGov account by an unknown individual for a short period of time shortly after 4:00 pm,” an SEC spokesperson told Wired. “Unauthorized access has been blocked. The SEC will collaborate with authorities and other government bodies to investigate the matter and determine the most appropriate actions for both unauthorized access and any other related violations.”
The impact on the cryptocurrency market
The fake news caused a real shock in the crypto market, causing a sudden surge in the price of Bitcoin (whose value grew by 2.5%, rising to $47,870). Value which – upon the announcement that it was fake news – is then dropped by 3.2% compared to the initial value.
The sudden oscillation, caused by unfounded news, has put the problem of the volatility of the crypto market back at the center, especially in circumstances of dubious legality such as in the case of a hacker attack aimed at influencing the market itself.
In fact, after the news of the account hack, the American senator Bill Hagerty wrote in X that the US Congress “should investigate the incident”.
X is an increasingly less safe social network
What happened yesterday is the second major breach of an X account in recent days. In fact, on January 3, a hacker had hacked the account of Mandiant, a well-known cybersecurity company owned by Google. The cybercriminal had tried to steal cryptocurrencies from his followers posting a malicious link.
Over the last year, Elon Musk’s drastic cuts to X staff have raised several concerns about the security of a platform often used by prominent personalities (as well as government agencies around the world).
Even before the acquisition by Musk, the former security chief Peter Zatko had reported the alleged security problems of the platform. He stated that former Twitter employees had excessive access to the platform, without any control.
“People are putting too much trust in an entity that has ceased to be a serious company,” said Allison Nixon, head of research for cybersecurity firm Unit 221B (via Wired). “If a government wants to make reliable statements, it cannot do so on a platform that has a problem with targeted account hacks.”