TAMPA, Fla. - Social media-based cyber attacks are on the rise, and July’s hack of celebrities’ accounts on Twitter is also calling attention to similar schemes happening on YouTube.
“What we're seeing is a proliferation of social media-based attacks,” said Ron Sanders, the staff director for Cyber Florida.
News sites like "Business Insider" are picking up on hackers hijacking verified user accounts with thousands of followers. YouTube is dealing with hackers creating fake accounts or hacking real ones to spread bitcoin scams. Cybersecurity experts said cryptocurrency is hard to track.
“Bitcoin has become the currency of choice for cyber commerce and in this case more importantly for cybercriminals,” said Sanders.
On July 15, hackers took over famous Twitter accounts like Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian and Elon Musk, asking people to pay in bitcoin to take their money.
“When they get duped and they let a cybercriminal in, whether they're stealing that individual's personal data or whether they're stealing somebody else's twitter account, that's how they get in. The bitcoin payment is just the frosting on the cake,” said Sanders.
Law enforcement said criminals do not remain anonymous online. Tampa teenager Graham Clark, 17, faces fraud and hacking charges for leading July’s Twitter hack. A judge arraigned him Tuesday, and he pleaded not guilty.
“It is still possible, technically possible to track down the identity of a cybercriminal. We just saw that recently with the arrest of a Tampa teenager,” said Sanders. “You can find out who they are, but the question is can you recover the money they've stolen?”
As for spotting a scam on social media, cybersecurity experts said to pay attention to the source and use common sense.
“You don't want to go from one extreme where you accept everything you read as gospel on the internet to the other where you reject everything you read on the internet. You just need to become an educated consumer of what's on there,” Sanders said.
Experts said cybersecurity now includes those social media attacks not just malware and viruses on your computer.