Hackers breached the official X (formerly Twitter) account of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin on September 9. According to on-chain analyst ZachXBT, this breach led to the loss of approximately $691,000 in digital assets, which included CryptoPunk NFTs and other valuable tokens.
The hackers responsible for the breach used a common phishing tactic. They posted a deceptive link and a message supposedly celebrating the launch of a special NFT from ConsenSys, which commemorates Ethereum’s Proto-Danksharding introduction.
This message enticed users to click the link under the guise of receiving a free NFT. Unfortunately, the link was a trap, resulting in the theft of valuable NFTs from those deceived.
The scam was highly convincing because the message came from Buterin’s verified account. This post fooled numerous unsuspecting followers, including well-known figures in the cryptocurrency community.
Ethereum developer BookyPooBah disclosed the loss of two CryptoPunks, specifically #3983 and #1751, in addition to other NFTs. The list of stolen NFTs also included recognizable items like Milady 4755, Meebit #9965 and Meridian #918.
As of the latest report, it remains unclear whether Buterin managed to regain control of his account despite having removed the misleading post.
It is speculated that Buterin fell victim to a “SIM swap” attack. A SIM swap is a method where someone takes control of another person’s phone number to bypass certain two-factor security measures on websites, including cryptocurrency exchanges and social media platforms.
Buterin’s X-hacking incident came amid heightened security concerns in the crypto space. Earlier this year, reports emerged of crypto investors losing $54 million in a single month due to rug pulls, scams and hacks. Last month, hackers gained control of the Terra blockchain’s official website and posted malicious links, although the amount stolen remains unclear.
This incident underscores a rising issue concerning the proliferation of phishing scams on the X platform — previously Twitter — which has experienced a troubling increase throughout this year.
Influential figures within the cryptocurrency sector have voiced escalating worries about the surge in cyber crimes targeting high-profile accounts. These include ZachXBT and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.
ZachXBT has been actively keeping his followers informed about the actions of the hackers, underscoring the importance of heightened security measures on the platform. He also shared details about the most valuable NFT in this breach — CryptoPunk #3983 — valued at 153.62 ETH, roughly equivalent to $250,543.
Zhao cautioned the online community to be vigilant when encountering posts that appear “too good to be true.” He emphasized the critical importance of online safety, focusing on implementing two-factor authentication (2FA).
Following the hack, there were discussions and debates about Buterin’s role in safeguarding his X account’s security. Some argued that he should shoulder responsibility for what they saw as inadequate operational security (op-sec).
In contrast, others came to his defense by highlighting that hacking attempts often target high-profile individuals like Buterin. Discussions regarding whether it stemmed from negligence or a more intricate attack — like a SIM swap or insider collaboration — also persist.
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