Hackers target Twitter
BY TERRY COLLINS, Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO -- Social media giant Twitter is among the latest U.S. companies to acknowledge that it is among a growing list of victims of Internet security attacks, saying that hackers may have gained access to information on 250,000 of its more than 200 million active users.
And now, The Washington Post is joining the chorus, saying it discovered it was the target of a sophisticated cyberattack in 2011.
Twitter said a blog post Friday that it detected attempts to gain access to its user data earlier in the week. It shut down one attack moments after it was detected.
But Twitter discovered that the attackers may have stolen user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords belonging to 250,000 users they describe as "a very small percentage of our users."
Nonetheless, the company reset the pilfered passwords and sent emails advising the affected users.
The online attack comes on the heels of recent hacks into the computer systems of U.S. media and technology companies, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Both American newspapers reported last week that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, likely to monitor media coverage the Chinese government deems important.
On Friday, The Washington Post disclosed in an article published on its website that it was the target of a sophisticated cyberattack, which was discovered in 2011.
The company's spokeswoman, Kris Coratti, didn't offer any details including the duration of the attack or the origins. But according to sources that the paper quoted, who it said spoke on condition of anonymity, the intruders gained access as early as 2008 or 2009.
The cyberattack was reported first by an independent cybersecurity blog on Friday.
"Like other companies in the news recently, we face cybersecurity threats," Coratti was quoted as saying. "We have a number of security measures in place to guard against cyberattacks on an ongoing basis."
According to Coratti's comments made to the newspaper, the company worked with security company Mandiant to "detect, investigate and remediate the situation promptly at the end of 2011."
Coratti couldn't be reached immediately for comment by The Associated Press.
China has been accused of mounting a widespread, aggressive cyber-spying campaign for several years, trying to steal classified information and corporate secrets and to intimidate critics.
The Chinese foreign ministry could not be reached for comment Saturday, but the Chinese government has said those accusations are baseless and that China itself is a victim of cyber-attacks.
Twitter's director of information security, Bob Lord, said in the blog that the attack "was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident."