On March 23rd, 2023, one of the most popular technologies cryptocurrency scammers hacked YouTube channels,. The hackers changed the channel’s handle to a Tesla-related name and are using a live video featuring the company’s CEO Elon Musk to promote their scam. At the time of writing, the channel is down, but multiple other channels are running the same stream over a presumably hacked account, pretending to be Tesla’s official channel.
This article will discuss the hacking incident, the scam videos posted on the channel, and other YouTube accounts that have been hacked recently. We’ll look at how AI is playing a part in these scams and provide tips on how to stay safe online.
The Hacking of Linus Tech Tips
Linus Tech Tips is a highly popular YouTube channel that focuses on hardware reviews and other technical content. With a large audience of millions, it’s no surprise that cryptocurrency scammers targeted the channel.
The hackers changed the channel’s handle to a Tesla-related name and used a live video featuring Elon Musk to promote their scam. Two scam videos were posted on the channel, titled “OpenAI ChatGPT-4: The Game-Changing AI Technology” and “LinusTechTips & Elon Musk Special Crypto Giveaway.” Both videos and the ones currently on YouTube, seem to involve a panel with Elon Musk and Twitter creator Jack Dorsey discussing cryptocurrency.
Linus, the channel’s owner, posted a short video on his own website Floatplane acknowledging the hack and stating he was “on top of it with Google’s team now.” The popular tech blogger also acknowledged that YouTube is looking into hardening its security to prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future.
Other YouTube Accounts That Have Been Hacked
Linus is far from the first victim of this type of hacking. In recent weeks, several popular YouTube accounts have been hacked and used to promote cryptocurrency scams or nudge viewers toward downloading malicious software. Hackers usually target accounts with over 100,000 subscribers to reach a large audience with their content.
Usually, the account owner notices or is informed, and I locked the account down within a few hours. However, sometimes, scammers target an account with a large subscriber base that either only posts every few months or is completely inactive. In these cases, they can hijack the account for a long time before anyone notices that something is wrong.
AI’s Role in These Scams
AI is playing a part in these cryptocurrency scams. I have observed the bad actors responsible for using AI-generated videos of “trustworthy-looking” people to help convince their victims to play along. The videos are often based around “cracking” various kinds of subscription software, like Adobe Creative Suite. However, instead of a “crack” allowing the viewer to access the software for free, the link below the video often contains malware.
How to Stay Safe Online
YouTube is aware of the issue and is working to stamp it out. However, it’s important not to rely solely on YouTube to keep yourself safe online. There are several basic online safety practices you can follow to protect yourself from these scams.
First, never click on a link you don’t trust. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t download anything that seems morally dubious. Stick to reputable websites and sources. Lastly, use a password manager to keep your accounts safe. A password manager can help you generate unique and strong passwords for each of your accounts.
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The hacking of Linus Tech Tips and other YouTube accounts is a concerning trend. The bad actors behind these hacks are using AI-generated videos and other