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What just happened? Linus Tech Tips, one of the largest and most popular technology YouTube channels on the platform, has been hacked. It was used by the hackers to show pre-recorded 'live-streaming' crypto-scam videos, featuring former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The channel is now showing a message stating it has been shut down for violating YouTube's community guidelines, but it appears Linus' other channels are also being abused.
Linus Sebastian's Linus Tech Tips YouTube channel has been running since 2008 and has amassed 15.8 million subscribers. The Canadian has several channels under the Linus Media Group banner, including TechLinked, but the main one remains the most popular. Sadly for all involved, it's become the latest high-profile channel to be hacked.
Hackers changed the channel's name to LinusTechTipsTemp adding a @temporaryhandle. They also posted two videos of old livestreams featuring Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk, which were part of The B Word conference held by Ark Invest in June last year, uploaded with overlays linking to crypto scams. This is the same trick that has been used on several previous occasions, including the hack on the British Army YouTube channel last year.
YouTube has shuttered the channel for violating its guidelines, but it seems the hackers have now gone after other Linus Media Group accounts. TechLinked has been renamed Tesla and is showing the same Musk livestream. Hackers have also added around 15 (at last count) official Tesla videos in an attempt to make the channel appear more legitimate. It's likely that YouTube will block this account soon enough, too.
We still don't know exactly how the hackers took over, and there has been no official response from Linus or anyone else at the company. (Update: statement below).
Yes I know -_-— Linus LinusMediaGroup (@linusgsebastian) March 23, 2023
While all the content from the channels has been deleted, Linus previously created several videos showing off the high-end hardware used to store the terabytes of backups the company created over the years. Hopefully, the impacted channels will be restored in time. Nevertheless, the team will no doubt be embarrassed and angry that such an incident was able to occur.