250,000 Twitter users have had their accounts hacked in the latest of a string of high profile internet security breaches.Twitter’s information security director Bob Lord said about 250,000 users’ passwords had been stolen, as well as usernames, emails and other data.
Affected users have had passwords invalidated and have been sent emails informing them.
Mr Lord said the attack “was not the work of amateurs”.
He said it appeared similar to recent attacks on the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal as the US newspapers reported that their computer systems had been breached by China based hackers.
Mr Lord said in a blog post Twitter had discovered unauthorised attempts to access data held by the website, including one attack that was identified and stopped moments after it was detected.
“This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident,” he wrote.
Mr Lord did not say who had carried out the attack, but added: “The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organisations have also been recently similarly attacked.”
“For that reason we felt that it was important to publicise this attack while we still gather information, and we are helping government and federal law enforcement in their effort to find and prosecute these attackers to make the internet safer for all users.”
The biggest worry for most of Twitter’s 200 million active users is not this attack per se, but the additional new “phishing” scams the attack has already inspired.
Since Twitter users now know to be on the lookout for emails asking them to change their passwords, criminals are sending out very similar messages.
If users click on the links in those they risk – once again – having their account hacked.
Dr Search warns you- don’t click on links in any emails asking you to change your password- instead go directly to the web site, log in normally, and change it using the instructions without clicking on email links.
“You have to be careful if you get hold of one of these emails because, of course, it could equally be a phishing attack – it could be someone pretending to be Twitter.
“So, log into the Twitter site as normal and try and log in to your account and, if there’s a problem, that’s when you actually have to try and reset your password.”