Several users of the microblogging site have recently reported that they received messages from Twitter saying their accounts might have been compromised in the wake of a series of attacks orchestrated by “state-sponsored actors.”
Never before has Twitter issued similar warnings. According to the messages, attackers probably were after IP addresses, e-mail addresses and/or mobile phone numbers that the site started only recently to request from users.
Among the owners of the possibly-affected accounts features Coldhak, a Canada-based non-for profit, which told the media first about the warning e-mail message.
The message reads that the social media company has no solid evidence that any information has bean leaked. Nevertheless, Twitter pledged to actively investigate the issue and was sorry for not having any additional info to share with its users.
In the e-mails, Twitter also provides recipients with links to the Tor project and EFF’s site to learn more about how they can stay safe on the Internet. The site acknowledged that a compromised account is an issue of great importance especially to users that choose to tweet anonymously.
Twitter only presumes that the hackers may be associated with a government, but it doesn’t hold any evidence.
Other users that recently said they had received the message were either working in the media or in cyber-security research. Twitter confirmed that the messages were sent by its staffers but declined to provide further details.
Yet, the site is not the only one to resort to such moves to protect its users. Google and Facebook routinely issue similar alerts when there is a suspicion of a state-sponsored attack. Previous attacks were designed to leak intellectual property or sensitive government data.
So far, the U.S. has been blaming mostly China for state-sponsored attacks. The major Sony entertainment hack in 2014, which had revealed sensitive info on the company’s workers and business partners and its ongoing projects, was, nevertheless, attributed to the North Korea government. Pyongyang never claimed responsibility for it.
In recent years, Facebook became an alluring target for hackers worldwide, so it recently unveiled plans to boost its security.
Twitter, however, has been a target of state-sponsored cyber attacks before. In 2013, several of its high-profile users were hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA). The SEA also managed to get into the NY Times’ and other major news outlets’ servers.
At that time, hackers posted either phony news articles such as Justin Bieber coming out as gay or resorted to pure vandalism, crippling sites for days.
Image Source: Flickr
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