On Friday, Twitter reported that it had detected and halted a cyberattack in progress—but not before the hackers accessed data for 250,000 accounts. The news capped off a week of reports of high-profile hack attacks, including those targeting The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
In a blog post, Twitter announced, “This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data. We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later. However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/salted versions of passwords – for approximately 250,000 users.”
All Things D’s Mike Isaac noted, “On Friday evening, Twitter sent out emails to those users whose accounts may have been compromised, notifying them that the company had automatically reset their user passwords, and that they would need to create a new password in order to access the service again.”
Wired quoted Twitter’s Bob Lord, who said, “This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident. The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked. For that reason we felt that it was important to publicize 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.”
Although the hack meant the weekend began on a sour note for Twitter, Sunday’s Super Bowl led to huge volumes of activity on the micro-blogging service. Dan Farber with CBS News reported, “According to Twitter, the game and halftime show with Beyonce spawned 24.1 million tweets. The 2013 Super Bowl tweeting surpassed the November presidential election, when there were 23 million tweets over a six-hour period. Beyonce’s halftime performance generated 5.5 million of the 24.1 million tweets, with a peak of 268,000 tweets-per-minute at the end of her performance. The non-halftime peak was 231,500 tweets-per-minute during the power outage.”