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FBI Investigating Bitcoin Scammers Who Hacked Twitter Accounts of Elon Musk, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Others

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  • Several massive Twitter accounts were hacked Wednesday by bitcoin scammers asking for money, claiming they would return senders double the amount in an effort to provide financial relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Compromised accounts included those of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Kim Kardashian West, Kayne West, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk. 
  • Hackers reportedly gained access to an internal tool by bribing a Twitter employee with money. They were then able to change emails associated with the accounts and reset passwords.
  • The hack has prompted many to ask how general privacy and even United States national security could potentially be affected, with Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) asking Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to provide more information about the attack.
  • Thursday, the FBI and the New York State Department of Financial Services both opened investigations into the hack.

Bitcoin Hackers Gain Control of Huge Accounts

Twitter suffered its largest hack ever on Wednesday, which some fear could have far-reaching national security implications. 

In fact, on Thursday, the FBI opened an investigation into the hack. The same day, at the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Financial Services launched its own investigation.

“The Twitter hack and widespread takeover of verified Twitter accounts is deeply troubling and raises concerns about the cybersecurity of our communications systems, which are critical as we approach the upcoming presidential election,” Cuomo said.

The list compromised accounts include those of Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Apple, and Uber, It even includes those of former President Barack Obama and presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Most of those accounts, which were all hacked near-simultaneously, tweeted some variation of the same message: “I am giving back to my community due to Covid-19! All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled. If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000! Only doing this for the next 30 minutes! Enjoy.” 

Shorter messages were posted on accounts like Kardashian-West’s.

Though it’s highly unlikely that such wealthy and high profile figures would directly ask their followers for money in this way, the requests were coming from their personal, verified accounts (AKA, accounts with that coveted, blue checkmark next to their names). Thus, many fell for the scam, and hackers are estimated to have stolen as much as $120,000 as part of the scheme.

As the hack was happening and more verified accounts were compromised, Twitter became so worried and concerned that it did something unprecedented: temporarily disabling all verified accounts from directly tweeting.

While that prevented hackers from continuing to post tweets asking for money, it also had some unintended consequences. For example, the National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois was tweeting about a severe thunderstorm at the time, however, the verified account soon found itself unable to post updates. That then forced it to resort to retweeting its bot account, which is not verified.

How Did the Hack Happen?

If reports about how hackers breached Twitter’s security system are true, that exposes massive security flaws at the company.

According to Motherboard, which is owned by Vice Media, hackers convinced a Twitter employee to help them hijack the targeted accounts. In fact, according to leaked screenshots and two anonymous sources who took over those accounts, Motherboard alleges that the employee in question was bribed into—at least indirectly—handing over an internal tool that allowed them to hack into the accounts.

“We used a rep that literally done all the work for us,” one of the sources told Motherboard.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Twitter Support said, “We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”

According to a Twitter spokesperson who spoke to Motherboard, the company is also investigating whether that employee hijacked the accounts themselves or if they gave hackers access to the tools.

As to how those hackers actually gained access to the accounts, Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Surrey, told Business Insider, “It looks like the way this was done was by using the tools inside Twitter to reset contact details and then trigger password resets.”

Essentially, those hackers likely gained access to the internal, high level tools then used them to change the email addresses associated with those accounts. From there, the hackers would have sent password reset requests, granting them full access to the accounts. 

Such a strategy is difficult to counter (How many times have you reset your own password just because you couldn’t remember it?).

Twitter could always get rid of the internal tool that allows employees to reset passwords, but as Woodward noted to Business Insider, if the company did that, people might end up getting locked out of their accounts forever.

He suggested having Twitter require more than one employee to sign off on the password reset function.

“If you allow such tools to exist (and it’s difficult to see how you’d not) then the only way to stop them being misused by an individual is to have a process in place to make sure you need two people internally to make it function,” he said. 

What Else Did Those Hackers See While in the Accounts?

The idea that hackers could make their way into the account of a former president or that of a major presidential candidate is scary in itself, but it also raises several key questions: What else did they see? What information did they manage to access?

For example, Twitter does not encrypt private messages. Anyone who logs into an account can see the messages sent to and from that account. That’s not to suggest Obama or Biden have something to hide, but such a fact is a gaping privacy concern.

As Woodward noted, even for regular users, there’s currently no way to defend themselves against this type of attack.

But it’s not just privacy. The people behind the accounts that were hacked have massive influence and sway. While his account did not appear to be hacked in this attack, many have raised concern about what kind of power hackers could exert if they were able to comandeer President Donald Trump’s Twitter account. 

On top of being the leader of the country, Trump is frequently known to attack political enemies—including foreign leaders. Many, including Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), fear the national security implications Trump’s Twitter account could pose in the wrong hands.

“I am concerned that this event may represent not merely a coordinated set of separate hacking incidents but rather a successful attack on the security of Twitter itself,” Hawley said in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as the attack was unfolding.

“As you know, millions of your users rely on your service not just to tweet publicly but also to communicate privately through your direct message service. A successful attack on your system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security.” 

Hawley asked Dorsey to provide detailed information on the attack, including information regarding Trump’s account.

“Did this attack threaten the security of the President’s own Twitter account?” Hawley asked in a series of questions.

So far, it is unknown how or if Dorsey has responded to Hawley, though Dorsey did make a personal statement on Wednesday.

“Tough day for us at Twitter,” Dorsey said. “We all feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened. [Love] to our teammates working hard to make this right.”

This isn’t the first time the accounts for high profile names have been hacked on Twitter. In fact, even Dorsey’s account was hacked last year. That same hack also targeted other massive online personalities like James Charles and Shane Dawson were also hacked last year.

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Axios) (The Verge)

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Jake Paul Denies Sexual Assault Allegations

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  • YouTuber Jake Paul is denying allegations that he sexually assaulted TikToker Justine Paradise in the summer of 2019.
  • Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week,” Paul wrote in a statement Tuesday.
  • He added that he plans on pursuing a defamation of character case “to the fullest extent of the law.”
  • Paradise, who posted a 20-minute video Friday accusing him of assault, has rejected claims that she lied for attention and said all she wants is an apology.

Jake Paul Denies Allegation

YouTuber Jake Paul denied allegations that he sexually assaulted TikToker Justine Paradise and said he will pursue legal action against her.

Paradise posted a 20-minute video on Friday claiming that Paul sexually assaulted her in the summer of 2019. She said Paul brought her to his room, where they began kissing, but claimed that she signaled she was uninterested in going any further. She alleged Paul then said, “If nothing is going to happen, then what’s the point?” before unzipping his pants and forcing her to perform oral sex on him.

“He was on top of me and like, holding my head into him,” she said in her video. “Like I couldn’t even tell him not to…He didn’t ask for consent or anything.”

Paul first denied the allegation on Tuesday in a statement via his attorney, Daniel E. Gardenswartz.

“While others have already begun to debunk the claim alleged against him, our client categorically denies the allegation and has every intention of aggressively disproving it and pursuing legal action against those responsible for the defamation of his character,” Gardenswartz said.

“Our client believes that any false allegations diminish the credibility of those who have truly been victims of misconduct.”

Paul Accuses Justine Paradise of Seeking Attention, Financial Gains

Paul then shared a statement of his own on Twitter, where he again denied the claim and said he takes the topic of sexual assault seriously.

“Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week,” he wrote, referencing his upcoming match against UFC star Ben Askren.

“This individual is directly using the attention from her social media posts and video to promote her adult content website and Amazon shopping list,” Paul continued. He added that he plans to pursue a defamation of character case “to the fullest extent of the law.”

“At the time of her story I was in a relationship, and as someone who was a momma’s boy growing up, I respect women and mothers more than anything. I most certainly have never laid a finger on a girl without their consent.”

“I will fight this to the end to prove my innocence,” he wrote

Paradise Responds

Paradise responded to his statement on her Instagram story. She specifically criticized Paul for accusing her of lying in order to get gifts and other financial gains. 

“I wasn’t even aware that I still had an Amazon wishlist,” she wrote. “I just checked and there were literally six items on it.”

“I am not looking for gifts or money,” she continued. “I made it very clear that all I wanted from him was an apology. And for him to stop doing this to people.”

She also claimed that since posting her video, a minor came forward to her and shared a similar experience with Paul. She provided no further details about that interaction but encouraged other women to speak to her if they had also been assaulted or harassed by Paul.

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (People) (The Washington Post)

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Jake Paul Accused of Sexual Assault By TikToker Justine Paradise

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  • In a YouTube video shared Friday, TikToker Justine Paradise accused massive social media star Jake Paul of sexually assaulting her in July 2019.
  • She claimed he brought her to his bedroom while she was visiting his home and forced her to perform oral sex on him after she expressed that she did not want to engage in sexual activity.
  • Paul has not issued any statements about the allegations or responded to Rogue Rocket’s request for comment.

Jake Paul Accused of Sexual Assault

YouTuber Jake Paul has been accused of sexually assaulting TikToker Justine Paradise during the summer of 2019. 

Paradise posted a 20-minute YouTube video on Friday detailing her accusation. Paul has not yet responded in a public statement to her claims, and his team has not responded to Rogue Rocket’s request for comment. 

Paradise claimed she met Paul in 2019 after a mutual friend, identified in the video by the pseudonym Michael, invited her to hang out one day. He sent her an address to go to, and when Paradise got there, she was surprised to learn it was the Team 10 House, the mansion Paul purchased for his social media collective. She claimed that when she got there, she had to sign an NDA and have her photo taken.

She said that during her first visit to the house, she and Paul barely interacted but he still asked for her number before she left. She claimed that she and Paul would sometimes text each other and she ended up going back to the house a handful of times over the course of the summer to hang out. 

She stated that on her other visits, she still barely spoke to Paul even though he would text her from across the room or other parts of the house. She described this as “awkward” but thought Paul might not know how to initiate conversation with girls because she saw so many constantly flocking towards him. 

Their dynamic allegedly changed one day when, according to Paradise, Paul grabbed her and kissed her. She said she was okay with this, though she felt slightly uncomfortable that he did so in front of a room full of people. On a separate occasion, though, Paradise claimed he crossed the line.

Paradise alleged that on the night between July 19 and July 20, she and others were hanging out at the house when Paul grabbed her hand and started walking around with her, which she thought was “cute.” She said he then took her to his room, but she did not necessarily view this as something that inherently meant they would have sexual relations. 

“People have brought me to their rooms before and I’m their friend and they’re literally just trying to show me their room,” she explained in her video. “Or they just want to talk to me away from the crowd of people. Or sometimes they are trying to do something sexual but if I say no, they respect it.” 

Details of Allegation

She said that they first were chatting, then started dancing, and then started kissing before he moved things to his bed. She stated that she wanted to just keep it at kissing and thought he would understand. 

“Normally, everybody respects me when I don’t want to do sexual things, so I thought it was fine if I went in his room and I thought it would be fine to kiss him because I thought he would stop if I didn’t want to do anything else,” she said. 

She claimed Paul would place his hands on her body, or move her hands onto his, but that she rejected those advances by moving their hands off of each other. She also alleged that Paul likely knew her refusal to touch him was a signal that she did not to go any further, as she claimed he responded by saying “If nothing is going to happen, then what’s the point?”

“What’s the point?” she continued, “I don’t know? I don’t know, maybe I can be one of your friends. Maybe I can just be someone that you kiss.” 

Paradise said she was shocked by his response as no one had ever responded to her that way before, so she felt incredibly uncomfortable, but she claimed that Paul’s actions did not stop there. 

“This is the point where, if what he wanted was sex, he sees he’s not going to get it, this is the point where we would just go elsewhere, go back downstairs where everyone is,” she said.

Instead, however, Paradise claimed that Paul stood up, undid his pants, and forced her to perform oral sex. She explained that she felt especially violated because she views oral sex as incredibly intimate and has only done it with two or three other people, but she did not know how to make him stop.

“What am I supposed to do? He was literally…I was still laying down,” she said. “He was on top of me and like, holding my head into him. Like I couldn’t even tell him not to.”

“He didn’t ask for consent or anything,” she continued. “Like he knew I didn’t want to do anything with him because he said ‘If nothing’s going to happen what’s the point?’ And then he just shoves himself in me.” 

Aftermath of Alleged Assault

Paradise said the assault did not last very long, but she was left feeling confused in the immediate aftermath. She claimed that once it was over, he insisted that they needed to leave his room and go to the studio in the house, where everyone else was hanging out. She added that he got frustrated and slightly aggressive when she said she wanted to take time to collect herself and fix her hair before other people saw her. She described this as a big change in personality for Paul, because he had apparently been very friendly with her before this incident. 

Paradise claimed that once she rejoined the crowd, she told her friend Michael about what happened. He called the situation “horrible” and stated he would talk to Paul himself. She claimed she ended up spending the rest of the night at the Team 10 House and provided Snapchats of herself with a puffy face from crying with a location tag in Calabasas as evidence. She also shared other pictures she took at the house and other text messages allegedly exchanged between her and Paul. 

She said that Paul never contacted her again after this night, even though she attempted to reach out to him to talk about what happened. She added that she was unsure if her friend Michael reached out to Paul, but if he ever did, Paul never apologized. 

“Honestly, I don’t think it was anything significant to him,” she explained in the video. “Like I said there was a different girl with him every day, I don’t even know if he would remember me.” 

Paradise claimed she has thought about this incident nearly every day since it happened. Her intent in posting the video was to reach out to Paul so he can learn about what he did to her and how it made her feel. She also asserted that she feels a lot of men do not change their bad behavior unless they are called out publicly. 

Paradise said she wants her video to serve as a warning to other girls who might find themselves in a similar situation. She addressed the fact that some people may not believe her and accuse her of doing this for clout, but insisted she just wants to tell what she feels is an important story. 

“Am I doing this for attention? Yeah, I do want attention on this,” she explained. “Because it’s a problem that’s real and deserves attention.” 

Responses

On Friday, her video became a popular topic of discussion on Twitter. Many pulled up TikToks she had previously posted, including one where she mentioned a YouTuber assaulting her and having to sign an NDA. Some also shared an update to that video, where Paradise claimed she was talking to a reporter about the situation. 

Other major creators, including YouTuber Trisha Paytas, uploaded Paradise and other survivors for speaking out, and urged people to take the accusations seriously.

“I’m glad victims are comfortable speaking up more and more,” she wrote. “This disgusting behavior should be put on blast – predators, rapists need appropriate punishments and not just “being cancelled” temporarily and back on a pedestal the next month.”

For his part, Paul has been posting his usual content on social media to promote his upcoming fight. Many people are urging him to respond to the accusations. 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Daily Dot) (Unilad)

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New Streaming Metrics Highlight Staggering Gap Between Male and Female Gamers

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  • Valkyrae and Pokimane are the two most-watched female gamers in the world, bringing in 12.2 million and 6.8 million hours of watch time in the first quarter of 2021, respectively.
  • The data comes from a new report by Stream Hatchet, which also showed that streaming remains a heavily male-dominated industry despite recent increases in the number of female gaming streamers.
  • On its list of top 100 streamers ranked by hours watched, Valkyrae and Pokimaine were the only two women included, placing 27th and 98th.
  • For comparison, the top streamer overall was xQc, a male variety gamer who raked in over 73 million hours of watch time.

Valkyrae Leads Female Streamer List by Giant Margin

Female streamers like Valkyrae and Pokimane have each amassed millions of followers and have become household names in gaming, but a new report shows that women in the industry are still affected by a massive gender gap. 

In its findings for the first quarter of 2021, Stream Hatchet, which tracks metrics among gaming streamers, found that Valkyrae easily topped the most-watched female streamers chart with 12.2 million hours of watch time across Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming. That’s a leap of double from the 6 million hours that she brought in during the third quarter of last year.

Pokimane followed Valkyrae as the second most-watched female streamer during Q1 of this year, with 6.8 million hours viewed.

Men Dominate Overall Streamer List 

Still, the report makes clear that “the male/female streamer gap is… substantial,” as Valkyrae actually ranks 27th if both male and female streamers are grouped together. Pokimane falls farther down that same list at the 98th spot. Of the top 100 streamers, they are the only two women on the list.

In fact, just looking at the overall top 10 streamers for most hours watched, the numbers showcase a staggering divide. 

For example, variety streamer xQc topped the list with over 73 million hours watched. Other popular streamers such as Ludwig and Shroud came in lower on the top 10, but both were still very well above the 20 million hours mark.

One factor that could explain this massive discrepancy is the fact that, historically, the gaming sphere has been dominated by men. In 2017, it was reported that over 81.5% of all Twitch users were male, despite the Entertainment Software Association estimating that 41% of gamers are female. 

By 2019, the percentage of female users on Twitch grew to 35%, with male users making up the other 65%. No statistics have been published regarding the makeup of non-binary users on the platform. 

One interesting note with this report is that for the top gaming V-Tubers, the opposite seems to be true: Women overwhelmingly dominate the sphere. One female Twitch V-Tuber even saw an astronomical growth of 274%.

As Stream Hatchet noted, “Most VTubers broadcast in Japanese or Korean, and as a result, there are strong similarities between VTubing and Anime.”

Generally, Streaming Has Surged

More generally, Stream Hatchet reported that live streaming audiences have continued to “skyrocket.” In fact, between January and March, the number of daily hours watched increased 80% from the same timeframe last year.

Twitch also dominated as the top streaming platform, with 8.8 billion hours watched compared to YouTube’s 1.4 billion hours and Facebook Gaming’s 1.1 billion hours. 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (GameRant)

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