Elon Musk has put the value of his Twitter platform at $20 billion, less than half what he paid for it five months earlier
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A 23-year-old British national has pleaded guilty to hacking charges in connection with a 2020 Twitter hack that targeted prominent individuals like Barack Obama and Elon Musk.

Joseph James O'Connor was arrested in Spain for being involved in the July 2020 hack of over 130 prominent Twitter accounts. He was deported to the US last month to be tried in New York.

O'Connor, who went by the online name of PlugwalkJoe in 2020, has now pleaded guilty to multiple counts of computer intrusion, extortion, stalking, wire fraud, and money laundering. He has been charged alongside three other men in connection with the scam, per a BBC report.

The others involved in the hack include US teenager Graham Ivan Clark, Nima Fazeli from Florida, and Mason Sheppard from the UK. They have all been charged with federal crimes. Clark, the alleged mastermind behind the cyberattack, was sentenced to three years in juvenile prison under a plea agreement in 2021. He was only 17 years old when the crime took place.

The group was able to gain access to and take over the verified Twitter accounts of prominent US figures in what is described as one of the biggest hacks in social media history.

Those targeted include Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos. Additionally, politicians such as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and even Kanye West and companies such as Apple and Square became targets of the attack.

After hijacking the above-mentioned accounts, the hackers posted a message along with their Bitcoin addresses. The tweet from Biden's account read: "I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes. Enjoy!"

While the message from Obama's Twitter account read: "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."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted a message that stated: "Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened." According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of the United Kingdom, it has contacted the social media company to discuss the incident. The hackers managed to dupe people into sending $100,000 in Bitcoin.

In December last year, UK journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan's Twitter account was hacked, and the hackers managed to put out a number of offensive tweets from his account before anyone could understand what was happening.

In September 2019, the account of its founder, Jack Dorsey, was hacked as well, and offensive messages were posted from it.

Such cyberattacks have become all too common over the last few years, and millions of cryptocurrency investors have also been scammed out of massive sums of real money by cyber criminals. According to a report by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, the volume of stolen crypto funds rose by 7% last year. In fact, the illegal use of cryptocurrencies hit a record $20.1 billion last year.

The hackers managed to steal as much as $3.8 billion in cryptocurrency. Chain analysis reported that these attacks were led by hackers linked to North Korea. "In 2022, they shattered their own records for theft," it said.

"It isn't a stretch to say that cryptocurrency hacking is a sizable chunk of the nation's economy. "These hacks will get harder and less fruitful with each passing year," read an excerpt from the report. It added that North Korea is using these funds for its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

Even though platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and crypto trading platforms claim that user data is in safe hands, the aforementioned incidents are testimony to the fact that no technology is foolproof.