Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.

Twitter breach exposed anonymous account owners

  • 0

A vulnerability in Twitter's software that exposed an undetermined number of owners of anonymous accounts to potential identity compromise last year was apparently exploited by a malicious actor, the social media company said.

It did not confirm a report that data on 5.4 million users was offered for sale online as a result but said users worldwide were affected.

The breach is especially worrisome because many Twitter account owners, including human rights activists, do not disclose their identities in their profiles for security reasons that include fear of persecution by repressive authorities.

“This is very bad for many who use pseudonymous Twitter accounts," U.S. Naval Academy data security expert Jeff Kosseff tweeted.

The vulnerability allowed someone to determine during log-in whether a particular phone number or email address was tied to an existing Twitter account, thereby revealing account owners, the company said.

Twitter said it did not know how many users may have been affected, and stressed that no passwords were exposed.

“We can confirm the impact was global,” a Twitter spokesperson said via email. “We cannot determine exactly how many accounts were impacted or the location of the account holders."

Twitter's acknowledgment in a blog post Friday followed a report last month by t he digital privacy advocacy group Restore Privacy detailing how data presumably obtained from the vulnerability was being sold on a popular hacking forum for $30,000.

A security researcher discovered the flaw in January, informed Twitter and was paid a reported $5,000 bounty. Twitter said the bug, introduced in a June 2021 software update, was immediately fixed.

Twitter said it learned about the data sale on the hacking forum from media reports and “confirmed that a bad actor had taken advantage of the issue before it was addressed.”

It said it was directly notifying all account owners that it can confirm were affected.

“We are publishing this update because we aren’t able to confirm every account that was potentially impacted, and are particularly mindful of people with pseudonymous accounts who can be targeted by state or other actors,” the company said.

It recommended users seeking to keep their identities veiled not add a publicly known phone number or email address to their Twitter account.

“If you operate a pseudonymous Twitter account, we understand the risks an incident like this can introduce and deeply regret that this happened,” it said.

The revelation of the breach comes while Twitter is in a legal battle with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over his attempt to back out from his previous offer to buy San Francisco-based Twitter for $44 billion.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

The head of Greece’s intelligence service and the general secretary of the prime minister’s office have resigned amid a scandal involving the targeting of the head of an opposition party and a journalist with spyware. National Intelligence Service director Panagiotis Kontoleon and Grigoris Dimitriadis, general secretary of the prime minister’s office, submitted their resignations Friday. Both were accepted. Kontoleon resigned “following incorrect actions found in the procedure of legal surveillance,” the prime minister’s office said. The prime minister’s office did not give a reason for Dimitriadis’ resignation. A government official said it was “related to the toxic climate that has developed around him" and stressed it was not related to Predator.

Toyota’s profit fell nearly 18% from a year earlier in the April-June quarter as a semiconductor shortage that has slammed the industry dented production at Japan’s top automaker. Toyota officials apologized Thursday to customers who have been waiting for their cars after putting in orders. Some have waited so long there was a model change in the interim. Toyota said various problems apart from the chips shortage have hurt production, such as flooding in South Africa and pandemic lockdowns in Shanghai. Electric vehicles, which need many computer chips, have been especially affected by the chips crunch. Rising material costs also hurt Toyota’s bottom line.

A Seattle man charged with felony stalking for allegedly standing outside U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s home and yelling expletives while armed has pleaded not guilty. KING-TV reports a King County Superior Court judge Tuesday set Brett Forsell’s bail at $150,000. The King County Prosecutor’s Office requested $500,000 bail, arguing Forsell is “likely to commit a violent offense if free in the community." Forsell was arrested July 9 after allegedly yelling obscenities and threats outside Jayapal’s Seattle home late at night. In 2016, Jayapal became the first Indian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Forsell will have to meet several conditions including GPS monitoring if he posts bail.

The House has passed a $280 billion package to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research in a bid to create more high-tech jobs in the United States and help it better compete with international rivals, namely China. The House approved the bill by a solid margin of 243-187. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law, and it provides the White House with a major domestic policy victory. The GOP leadership in the House recommended a vote against the bill, arguing the semiconductor industry didn't need "government handouts." But some GOP lawmakers viewed passing the legislation as important for national security

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Idaho for a proposed nuclear test reactor that would dramatically reduce the time needed to develop nuclear fuels and components for a new generation of nuclear reactors that could help reduce global warming. The Energy Department on Wednesday said it selected its 890-square-mile site in eastern Idaho that includes the Idaho National Laboratory to build the Versatile Test Reactor, or VTR. The VTR is a sodium-cooled fast test reactor that would be the first fast spectrum test reactor to operate in the United States in nearly three decades. Plans call for the test reactor to be running by the end of 2026.

Britain’s governing Conservative Party has delayed sending out ballots for the party’s leadership election after a warning from the intelligence services about the risk of fraud. Ballots had been due to be mailed out early this week to about 180,000 party members. The party said it decided to “enhance security” on the advice of the National Cyber Security Centre. The party had intended to allow members to vote online or by post, with an option to change the vote until Sept. 2. It now says each member will get a unique code that allows one, unchangeable vote. Tory members are choosing between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

After 13 years, at least three crashes, dozens of scams and Ponzi schemes and hundreds of billions of dollars made and evaporated, cryptocurrencies finally have the full attention of Congress. Lawmakers and lobbyists have papered Capitol Hill with proposals on how to regulate the industry. A proposal Wednesday from Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas would hand the regulatory authority over Bitcoin and Ether to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Bills proposed by other members of Congress and consumer advocates have suggested giving the authority to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Listen now and subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS Feed | Omny Studio

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

News Alert