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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A number of prominent Twitter accounts, including those of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Elon Musk, appear to have been compromised Wednesday, posting messages tied to a cryptocurrency scam.

The latest: Twitter temporarily disabled all verified accounts from tweeting for several accounts. At about 8:45 pm ET, Twitter said in a statement: "Most accounts should be able to Tweet again. As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible."

Why it matters: Twitter has become a key source of communication, and people generally assume the content posted by an account is from the person who owns the account, increasing the likelihood of a scam being successful.

  • One bitcoin wallet linked to the scam appears to have received the equivalent of over $100,000, according to CNBC.

Details: The accounts of Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg and Kanye West, as well as companies Apple, Bitcoin.org, Coinbase and Ripple, were similarly compromised, in addition to several others.

  • Late Wednesday, Twitter posted: "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."
  • A Biden spokesperson said in a statement, "Twitter locked down the account immediately following the breach and removed the related tweet. We remain in touch with Twitter on the matter."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

PayPal brings bitcoin to the mainstream

Expand chart
Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

PayPal's decision to allow customers to hold bitcoin and other virtual currencies in its online wallet and shop using cryptocurrencies sent the value of bitcoin soaring on Wednesday.

Why it matters: With 346 million active accounts around the world and 26 million merchants, PayPal could bring cryptocurrencies into mainstream acceptance.

7 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.