Twitter Says Hackers Gain Access To 250,000 Accounts

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By Vijaykumar Meti | February 2, 2013 6:02 PM EST

Twitter Inc confirmed Friday that anonymous hackers might have gained access to as many as 250,000 user accounts.

This is not the first time when hackers breached Twitter's systems and gained access to other's private information.

The social media giant said in its blog post that earlier this week it detected "unusual access" patterns to its user's data. It shut down one attack moments after it was detected.

"This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data," Twitter said in a blog posting yesterday.

"We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later."

The company also states that the attackers may have stolen user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords of almost 250,000 users.  However, Twitter has reset the pilfered passwords and sent email to users advising them to create a new one.

Twitter, the social network known for its 140-character messages, could not speculate on the origin of the attacks as its investigation was ongoing, said spokesman Jim Prosser. "There is no evidence right now that would indicate that passwords were compromised," said Prosser.

"This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident," Twitter said. "The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked."

As a precautionary security measure, Twitter has reset passwords and encouraged strengthening one's account passwords due to increased cyber-attack activity throughout the internet.

China has been accused of mounting a widespread, aggressive cyber-attack for several years in an attempt to gain access to classified information and secretive corporate information.

"Chinese law forbids hacking and any other actions that damage Internet security," the Chinese Defence Ministry recently said. "The Chinese military has never supported any hacking activities."

On Wednesday, the  New York Times announced that passwords and account of their staff have been infiltrated for nearly four month by anonymous hackers from China.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal said "Chinese laws prohibit any action including hacking that damages Internet security." It added that "to accuse the Chinese military of launching cyber-attacks without solid proof is unprofessional and baseless."

Also on Thursday, Bloomberg announced that many unsuccessful attempts had been made to access its systems. 

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