Who Hacked The SEC? Bitcoin Briefly Spikes Following Fake Tweet

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Last updated Mar 06, 2024 | 10:03 AM UTC
By Jo K

A fake spot Bitcoin ETF approval tweet from the account of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday lead to a dramatic spike in the price of Bitcoin (BTC) – before the SEC chair Gary Gensler came along to point out that it wasn't true.

The much-anticipated approval of the 13 spot Bitcoin ETF applications by heavy-hitting investment firms including BlackRock, Fidelity and VanEck had been expected to go ahead this month. 

The applications have been generating a lot of excitement in the crypto industry in the past year as a spot ETF would give investors a route into Bitcoin without having to actually buy the leading crypto through regular exchanges like Coinbase, KuCoin or Binance. 

However, after the tweet went live and dramatically hit the markets, the SEC chair Gary Gensler was forced to clarify that the regulator did not in fact sign off on the approvals.

Following the hack, the price of Bitcoin jumped by $1k and reached $47,893 before slumping back down to $45,430 as Gensler proceeded to pour cold water over the announcement. At the time of writing at 11GMT on 10 January, the BTC price is trading at $45,643. 

The SEC and crypto

The security breach is an embarrassment for the SEC whose supposed aim is to protect investors. The hack now raises serious questions on how and who could have gained access to the regulator's official X (formerly Twitter) account. 

As result of the tweet, X has since posted that the SEC's account "did not have two-factor authentication enabled at the time the account was compromised". The post

: "We can confirm that the account @SECGov was compromised and we have completed a preliminary investigation.

"Based on our investigation, the compromise was not due to any breach of X’s systems, but rather due to an unidentified individual obtaining control over a phone number associated with the @SECGov account through a third party." 

Watch this space.

Written by

Jo is a journalist who has previously worked for the Financial Times, News UK, Tech Alchemy and Capital.com.