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Twitter Data Breach and Security Vulnerabilities 


April 10, 2024 | 9 min read

Platforms like Twitter, now X that have access to troves of data are subject to leaks. This data loss could result from a targeted attack or exploitation of system vulnerabilities. But whatever the case, a Twitter data breach often has ugly consequences.

Therefore, every avid Twitter user would wonder how this security threat can affect them. Another thought would be to avoid and mitigate possible security risks and damages. Well, knowledge is power. So, let’s learn all about the platform’s data leak.

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Significant Twitter Data Breach

In the past, Twitter has experienced data spills that have led to the disclosure of user information. An outstanding incident is data theft from 400 million users between June 2021 and January 2022. 

This mass data leak on Twitter resulted from a malicious bug in Twitter’s Application Programming Interface. A report on Twitter’s bug bounty program brought this flaw to the limelight. 

Due to the bug, Twitter’s system revealed accounts associated with email addresses and phone numbers upon submission of details. Unfortunately, hackers used the flaw to extract millions of users’ information before Twitter learned about the problem. 

Subsequent information leakages on the platform share ties with the previous incident. In July 2022, a hacker compiled information from the leak and advertised it on a sales forum. The information comprised the email addresses, phone numbers, and private details of 5.4 million Twitter, now X users.

Fast forward to January 2023, another security breach on Twitter led to the release of 200 million users’ email addresses. Security researchers claim that these email addresses are remnants of the earlier spill after the extraction of duplicates.

Several hackers exploited Twitter’s API vulnerability before the corporation fixed it. Due to this, there are several troves of exposed data. So, Twitter’s developer team should strive to eradicate all system flaws before any updates. With privacy assurance, users will feel more secure while executing their in-app activities.

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Security Issues With Twitter Data Leak

Twitter security breaches lead to data scraping by bad actors, which has negative risks for the victims. These risks materialize quickly and can lead to intense reputational and financial damages when data falls into the wrong hands. Below are four security issues with Twitter that can develop from data spills.

1. Account Theft

A data leak is a high-risk security violation. One of the major security challenges that victims of sensitive data exposure experience is account theft. Malicious actors can manipulate data to gain unauthorized access to an individual’s account and perpetrate crimes. 

In 2023, an X security breach exposed the handles and usernames of some of the platform’s subscribers. The leak also disclosed the account creation dates and follower counts, revealing information feasible for account manipulation. 

The major form of such manipulation involves using available information to reset an account’s password. Hackers do this to gain control over their victim’s accounts and use them to carry out evil intent. 

Hence, a two-factor authentication is necessary for maximum account protection and data privacy. However, attackers who access a user’s X account credentials can hack other accounts with the same credentials. 

Hence, an important safety tip is to create strong passwords with special characters, numbers, and upper and lower case alphabets. Also, ensure to use different unique passwords for all your mobile applications.

2. Identity Theft

Another prevalent Twitter security issue that stems from data loss is identity theft. Since information spillage unmasks personally identifiable information, identity becomes easy to steal or clone. 

The accessibility of personal data can lead to identity theft. For example, the attacker can use their victim’s personal information to commit crimes. Malicious actors can also clone an individual’s identity, assuming their name and details.

However, the most prevalent crime is financial fraud, often committed via unauthorized purchases. Other forms of financial fraud include collecting loans from institutions and people under the guise of the victim’s identity. 

Hackers can duplicate a user’s account and use it to perpetuate scams. A Twitter identity theft is hazardous as security agencies can trace crimes back to the victim. In essence, identity theft can contaminate someone’s digital footprints. If not carefully investigated, an innocent victim will bear the brunt of someone else’s crimes.

However, apart from defrauding other people, the attacker, by impersonating victims, can cart away their assets. Therefore, this is another risky problem a data leak can cause.

3. Phishing Scam

Phishing attacks are prominent in the digital space. It entails an attacker impersonating a person or an entity and pursuing false communication. When plotting a phishing scam, the hacker mostly contacts victims through emails, DMs, and SMS. 

A data leak reveals contact information with which malicious actors can hack accounts. They then use these accounts to spread ingenuine content to entice people to click on an inauthentic link.

These links usually lead to doctored versions of real websites for extracting information from victims. A Twitter data leak encompasses various calibers of users, including famous professionals and organizational accounts. 

Therefore, followers of influencers, celebrities, famous people, or organizations have a higher risk factor. You may wonder why. Well, that’s because scammers may manipulate the login credentials of influential people and send out Direct Messages to their followers. 

The messages usually contain clickbait, which leads to fraudulent websites. Gullible fans will open such DMs, respond eagerly, and click the link without scrutinizing it to ensure it’s correct. 

This trick lures unsuspecting followers and victims to divulge personally identifiable information or part with money. However, proper scrutiny can reveal differences in the names of websites, as the fake ones always have minute errors.

4. Anonymity and Privacy Concerns

A reasonable amount of Twitter users operate with anonymity. Some people create Twitter or X accounts using pseudonyms for their handles and usernames. You may think these fall under the cover of automated Twitter accounts, but they’re human handlers behind such profiles. 

They choose to conceal their identity for different reasons. As the case may be, some pseudonymous users speak against repressive policies via their accounts. Now imagine the dangers of exposing the identities of such activists. Besides disrupting their privacy, it puts them at risk of tracking and discovery by tyrannic governments.

Therefore, a Twitter security breach raises anonymity and safety concerns by blowing their cover. Data leaks can also jeopardize privacy by revealing the individuals behind certain accounts.

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Cybersecurity Risks Associated With Twitter Accounts

Besides data breaches, users may encounter certain cybersecurity risks while using the Twitter internet application. These risks introduce vulnerabilities that can damage computer networks and digital software. So, here are four such risks you may encounter while exploring Twitter feeds and timelines.

1. System Bugs

Twitter, aka X, functions by its algorithm according to user commands. The Twitter algorithm operates with codes that programmers write. Though specialists and professionals create the codes, we can’t rule out the possibility of oversights.

If a malicious actor finds loopholes, they can exploit them and execute dubious tasks. A perfect example is the 2021 Twitter Application Programming Interface bug that surfaced due to code updates.

Hackers exploited this bug by submitting email addresses and phone numbers to discover the Twitter account linked to them. This gross violation of privacy and disclosure of anonymity was due to flaws in the codes. Eventually, it led to a security breach in user data. 

2. Malicious Software Attack

Attackers can use malware to gain control over a user’s account, spy, steal, or delete data, amongst other negative deeds. Interestingly, a data leak heightens the chances of a malware attack by exposing possible victims that hackers can target. Sometimes, individuals attempt to download a file without knowing it contains a virus.

Also, Twitter users can unknowingly install malware by clicking dubious links that download the program in the background. This process is similar to phishing, as hackers can spread malware by sending Direct Messages to Twitter users. 

After the download, hackers can easily access users’ devices and siphon confidential information. 

3. Social Engineering Attacks

The risk of social engineering attacks on Twitter is high. Social engineering involves the psychological manipulation of users by instilling fear or urgency, thereby misleading them into divulging information.

Frequently used formats on Twitter, aka X, are fake crypto airdrops and celebrity giveaways. The attackers falsify promotional efforts to lure people to visit websites that compromise their data and safety. Several other social engineering threats exist, including baiting, scareware, and whaling. 

4. Cyberbullying

Twitter accounts are usually public, meaning anyone can view users’ profiles and posts. Though there is an X account privacy setting to limit viewers, not everyone uses it. Hence, the majority of the population on the social media platform can fall prey to acts of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying occurs when haters trash talk, shame, and troll users in a bid to silence them. Bullies can pass across demeaning messages through posts on X or DMs. However, this act is dangerous and can diminish a person’s self-confidence.

Security officials stand before a yellow cyber crime label.

Mitigating Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities 

Cyber threats are bound to occur on social media platforms like Twitter, aka X. Usually, security breaches and other forms of cybersecurity attacks have long-lasting negative impacts. Hence, learning how to prevent and manage cyber threats and vulnerabilities is important. 

Guessable passwords often make account theft easy, so set strong passwords for your Twitter and other accounts. Also, never neglect the two-factor authentication process, as it’s an additional security measure. 

You can also prevent identity theft and avoid phishing by verifying links to confirm their source before clicking. Also, never give away your private information upon prompts on untrusted websites.

Things are not always as they seem, so always double-check links and confirm their authenticity. Little domain name errors that may go unnoticed at first sight can help identify malicious links.

Furthermore, never rush to download or install files from unknown websites, as they may be malware baits. Summarily, it’s best to be security-conscious and alert while on Twitter. 

But while you strive to manage your data, remember that a Twitter data breach may result from system flaws. Since it’s impossible to predict a data leak, it’s best to be conscious of what you post on Twitter. 

If some posts on your feed contain sensitive personal information, you should take preventive security measures like filtering your timeline. If you’re looking for an app that can eradicate multiple posts at a go, consider using TweetEraser. 

This tool can help you clear your X profile and maintain a pristine digital footprint. It supports multiple deletion tasks for posts on your profile. So, start cleaning up your Twitter timeline today!

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