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Twitter tightens security after breaches

23 May 2013, 13:14

San Francisco – Twitter said on Wednesday it was stepping up security measures for the popular messaging service following a series of high-profile breaches by hackers hitting media organisations and others.

Twitter said it would implement a new login verification system, "a form of two-factor authentication" which is "a second check to make sure it's really you" when a user signs in.

"Of course, even with this new security option turned on, its still important for you to use a strong password and follow the rest of our advice for keeping your account secure," said Jim O'Leary of Twitter Product Security.

Some recent attacks took over Twitter feeds and delivered fake tweets using the accounts of Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press, Financial Times and other news organisations.

Last month, hackers spooked markets after breaking into AP’s Twitter account and falsely reporting President Barack Obama had been injured after two blasts at the White House.

Twitter said the new system would be an option for users, and would allow them to require a verification code for each sign-in.

"You'll need a confirmed email address and a verified phone number. After a quick test to confirm that your phone can receive messages from Twitter, you're ready to go," O'Leary said.

The security system will send a text message to the user's mobile phone with a verification code that would be entered for the login.

The Syrian Electronic Army, which appears to be aligned with the government of President Bashar al-Assad, has claimed credit for hacking AFP, AP and other news organisations.

Earlier this month, the Twitter feed of satirical US news website The Onion was also taken over by the Syrian group aiming to inject its own sardonic spin on the deadly conflict.

The Onion posted details of how its feed was hijacked, describing how emails were sent to some employees in a phishing spoof to gain access to passwords.

Twitter said in February it was hit by a "sophisticated" cyber attack and that the passwords of about 250 000 users were stolen.



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