Twitter unexpectedly issued a warning to several users that they might have been the targets of state sponsored attacks. According to Twitter, the attackers may have been trying to get sensitive information such as IP addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. It is still unclear as to who is responsible for the attack, as Twitter did not provide any additional details.
The matter is still being investigated, although it doesn’t have any evidence that the attackers obtained any account information. Despite this Twitter has recommended the users switch to Tor to keep their identity secret while online. The warning also advised the affected users to consult the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s ‘Protecting Yourself On Social Networks’ guidelines.
According to Motherboard, none of these users have any sort of clear link between them; despite receiving Twitter’s notice at the same time. It is still unknown as to exactly why the users are being targeted, but a few of them gave their suggestions. One of these recipients is coldhak, a Canadian group that describes itself as “a nonprofit dedicated to furthering privacy, security and freedom of speech.”
When asked by Motherboard about potential reasons for being targeted, coldhak responded with, “Colin Childs, one of the founding directors of coldhak, is a contractor for Tor Project and, as such, is a likely target for this type of attention. It could also be because of the Tor relays coldhak operates, or the coldkernel project that coldhak is currently developing.”
Two others involved in the security and privacy sector, Runa Sandvik and Noris Fabio, also received similar notices.
However, one user, who wished to be anonymous, spoke to Motherboard that she has no relations to both the Tor Project or the security community. In addition to claiming that she is not an activist at all, she wasn’t entirely sure about the reason she would be a target. She added that “it’s all just very, very strange to me.”
It is quite surprising that Twitter has suddenly begun issuing warnings about suspected state sponsored attacks on its users. The micro-blogging site has not indicated that it would be taking this course of action. Twitter is not alone in issuing these kinds of warnings, as Google and Facebook have also taken to alerting users of potential government-linked attacks on their user accounts.