The Twitter Breach: What Happened and What it Means for Cybersecurity

January 6, 2023by TNTMAX

This week, more than 200 million Twitter accounts, including email addresses, were leaked, raising cybersecurity concerns from officials. 

Several weeks ago, a dataset allegedly containing the email addresses and phone numbers of more than 400 million Twitter users had been put up for sale on the hacker Breached Forums, Forbes reported. The hacker, using the screen name “Ryushi,” claimed to have collected the data using a “data scraping technique” and a now-patched vulnerability in Twitter’s software in 2021. The hacker demanded $200,000 for an “exclusive” sale of the data and warned that the social media platform could face a fine for failing to protect user data.

On January 4, researchers at Privacy Affairs said that they had found evidence that the account details of over 200 million Twitter users had been leaked on the hacker forum for free. Reportedly, the database was 63GB and the leaked data included account name, handle, creation date, follower count and email address. The researchers warned that the leaked data could be used to hack Twitter users’ accounts, and could also be used for social engineering or “doxxing” campaigns.

So what does this mean for users? Several cybersecurity officials have suggested that this breach should be seen as troubling and not dismissed, especially for any users posting controversial things under anonymous accounts. 

“This leak essentially doxxes the personal email addresses of high profile users, which can be used for spam, harassment and even attempts to hack those accounts. High profile users may end up getting inundated with spam and phishing attempts on a mass scale,” said Miklos Zoltan, CEO of Privacy Affairs.

Alan Gal, the co-founder of Israeli security firm Hudson Rock , was reportedly the first to uncover the leak and took to social media to alert the public. He wrote in a LinkedIn post that the database “contains 235,000,000 unique records of Twitter users and their email addresses and will unfortunately lead to a lot of hacking, targeted phishing, and doxxing,” and added that “this is one of the most significant leaks [he’s] seen.” 

The Twitter hack is just a recent example of the cybersecurity breaches we have been seeing in recent years. 

In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly explained that the tech industry, consumers, and government need to come together to help improve cyber safety in the U.S.

“We live in a world…of massive connections where that critical infrastructure that we rely upon is all underpinned by a technology ecosystem that unfortunately has become really unsafe,” said Easterly. “We cannot have the same sort of attacks on hospitals and school districts that we’ve been seeing for years. We have to create a sustainable approach to cyber safety.” 

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