Twitter warns users of state-sponsored hack

Twitter warns users of state-sponsored hack
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Twitter is warning some of its users that their accounts may have been accessed by a state-sponsored hacker.


Notices sent Friday informed users that they were part of a "small group" that may have been targed by actors "possibly associated with a government."

“It’s possible your account may not have been the intended target of the suspected activity, but we wanted to alert you as soon as possible,” reads the notice, posted on Twitter by several recipients.

The warnings were first reported by Motherboard.

According to the posted notices, Twitter believes the hackers were trying to obtain email addresses, IP addresses and phone numbers, but there is “no evidence” that they succeeded.

The company provided no additional information about the identity or motives of the hackers, but says it is investigating the attempt. It has not responded to a request for comment from The Hill.

Although both Facebook and Google have standing policies to notify users of a suspected state-sponsored attack, Twitter has never formally acknowledged a similar policy. Friday is thought to be the first time the company has sent such notices, according to Motherboard.

“Overall, there are no clear links between users, but there are some patterns,” the tech news site reports. “A few are located in Canada, and vaguely associated with the [cyber] security community at large.”

The notices come amid growing concerns about the use of cyberattacks and cyber espionage by nation-state actors.

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Michael Rogers acknowledged in a congressional hearing that China and likely “one or two” other countries — likely Russia and possibly Iran — currently have the ability to digitally manipulate the U.S. power grid.

The Chinese government is widely believed to be behind the infiltration of the Office of Personnel Management’s databases, which exposed over 21 million federal employees and others. Beijing denies any involvement.

Social media firms are already facing increased scrutiny for how they handle terrorist activity on their platforms, after it became clear that the perpetrators of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., had been radicalized. Twitter in particular is facing growing calls from the White House and congressional Democrats to take a more aggressive role in battling terrorist content on its platform.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHarris shares video addressing staffers the night Trump was elected: 'This is some s---' Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Senate talks on stalled Violence Against Women Act reauthorization unravel MORE (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation that would force social media companies to notify federal authorities of terrorist activity on their networks.

So far, users who received Twitter’s notice on Friday don’t appear to have seen any suspicious activity that would suggest a cyberattack.

One privacy and security nonprofit that received the notice told Reuters that it has seen “no noticeable impact” of any attack.