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Twitter users attacked by government hackers, site warns

Published 14/12/2015

Twitter did not attribute the hacks to any specific country
Twitter did not attribute the hacks to any specific country

Twitter is warning some of its members that they have been victim of government attackers.

“State-sponsored actors” have been looking to take information such as email addresses and phone numbers by breaking into a “small group of accounts”, the site has warned.

Twitter has told its users that they appear to have been hacked before. But this seems to be the first time that it has explicitly blamed governments — though it did not attribute the hacks to any specific country.

The move follows similar warnings from Facebook and Google. Both of those companies have added features to their products that will show a pop-up warning when they suspect that government hackers are attempting to break into accounts.

The message, shared on Twitter by a group called Coldhak. The group told Reuters they had seen “no noticeable impact” of the attack.

But Twitter said in the email that it was alerting users so that they could ensure their personal data was safe.

“As a precaution, we are alerting you that your Twitter account is one of a small group of accounts that may have been targeted by state-sponsored actors.

“We believe that these actors (possibly associated with a government) may have been trying to obtain information such as email addresses, IP addresses, and/or phone numbers.”

At the end of the email, Twitter recommends ways of “protecting your identity online”. It suggests looking at the Tor Project’s anonymised browsing technology, as well as the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s guide, ‘Protecting Yourself on Social Networks’.


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