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Twitter warning users against state-sponsored cyber attacks

Twitter’s notice is the latest amid concern about cyber attacks by state-sponsored organisations. Government agencies, businesses and media have all been hacked.

tech Updated: Dec 14, 2015 11:49 IST
Twitter is offering suggestions like using Tor to anyone who is worried that their personal information is out in the wild.
Twitter is offering suggestions like using Tor to anyone who is worried that their personal information is out in the wild.(Reuters)

Twitter Inc has alerted some users that state-sponsored hackers may have tried to obtain sensitive data from their accounts, the first such warning by the micro blogging site.

The notice said there was no indication the hackers obtained sensitive information from what it said were a “small group of accounts” targeted.

It did not provide additional information about the attack or possible suspects in its investigation, Reuters reported.

Twitter’s notice is the latest amid concern about cyber attacks by state-sponsored organisations. Government agencies, businesses and media have all been hacked.

Recently, Google and Facebook also started issuing warnings to users possibly targeted by state-sponsored attacks.

A story in New York Times had indicated that the federal department found out about those attacks because of the alert system.

The attacks are a matter of concern because access to social media accounts can be lucrative for determined attackers.

One account could yield access to dozens of others and open up lines of communication between people in a particular field or network.

Twitter is offering suggestions like using Tor to anyone who is worried that their personal information is out in the wild.

Tor is free software for enabling anonymous communication and directs internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer network to conceal a user’s location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis.

One organisation that said it received the notice, a Winnipeg-based nonprofit called Coldhak, said the warning from Twitter came on Friday. The notice said the attackers may have been trying to obtain information such as “email addresses, IP addresses, and/or phone numbers”

Coldhak’s Twitter account, @coldhakca, retweeted reports from a number of other users who said they received the notice. Coldhak and the other users did not indicate why they may have been singled out.

Colin Childs, one of the founding directors of Coldhak, told Reuters his organisation has seen “no noticeable impact of this attack”.