A breach in Twitter’s security that allowed hackers to break into the accounts of leaders and technology moguls is one of the worst attacks in recent years and may shake trust in a platform politicians and CEOs use to communicate with the public, experts said Thursday.
The ruse discovered Wednesday included bogus tweets from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked.
Hackers used social engineering to target some of Twitter’s employees and then gained access to the high-profile accounts. The attackers sent out tweets from the accounts of the public figures, offering to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
Cybersecurity experts say such a breach could have dire consequences since the attackers were tweeting from verified, globally influential accounts with millions of followers.
“If you receive a tweet from a verified account, belonging to a well-known and therefore trusted person, you can no longer assume it’s really from them,” said Michael Gazeley, managing director of cybersecurity firm Network Box.
Reacting to the breach, Twitter swiftly deleted the tweets and locked down the accounts to investigate. In the process, it prevented verified users from sending out tweets for several hours.
The company said Thursday it has taken “significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools.”
Internally, we’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing. More updates to come as our investigation continues.
Many celebrities, politicians and business leaders often use Twitter as a public platform to make statements. U.S. President Donald Trump, for example, regularly uses Twitter to post about national and geopolitical matters, and his account is closely followed by media, analysts and governments around the world.
Twitter faces an uphill battle in regaining people’s confidence, Gazeley said. For a start, it needs to figure out how exactly the accounts were hacked and show the vulnerabilities have been fixed, he said.
“If key employees at Twitter were tricked, that’s actually a serious cybersecurity problem in itself,” he said. “How can one of the world’s most used social media platforms have such weak security, from a human perspective?”
Rachel Tobac, CEO of Socialproof Security, said that the breach appeared to be largely financially motivated. But such an attack could cause more serious consequences.
“Can you imagine if they had taken over a world leader’s account, and tweeted out a threat of violence to another country’s leader?” asked Tobac, a social engineering hacker who specializes in providing training for companies to protect themselves from such breaches.
Social engineering attacks typically target human weaknesses to exploit networks and online platforms. Companies can guard themselves against such attacks by beefing up multi-factor authentication — where users have to present multiple pieces of evidence as authentication before being allowed to log into a system, Tobac said.
Such a process could include having a physical token that an employee must have with them, on top of a password, before they can log into a corporate or other private system. Other methods include installing technical tools to monitor for suspicious insider activities and reducing the number of people who have access to an administrative panel, Tobac said.
Call for co-operation
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley called on Twitter to co-operate with authorities including the Department of Justice and the FBI to secure the site.
“I am concerned that this event may represent not merely a co-ordinated set of separate hacking incidents but rather a successful attack on the security of Twitter itself,” he said.
He added that millions of users relied on Twitter not just to send tweets but also communicate privately via direct messaging.
“A successful attack on your system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security,” said Hawley.
Ontario reports 1,373 new COVID cases today – SooToday
Public Health Ontario has confirmed 1,373 new cases of COVID-19 today, as well as 35 deaths.
The deaths reported today include one person between 20 and 39 years old, two people between the ages of 40 and 59 years old, eight people between the ages of 60 and 79 years old, and 26 people over the age of 80. Twenty-two of the people who died were residents at long-term care facilities.
Since yesterday, 51 people have been hospitalized with the coronavirus and seven people have been admitted to intensive care units with COVId-19.
Included in the 1,373 new cases reported today are 415 cases from Peel, 445 cases from Toronto, and 136 cases from York Region.
The province has also reported 162 new school-related cases today, including 138 student cases and 24 staff cases. There have been 1,193 school-related cases reported in the last 14 days and 4,269 school-related cases reported to date.
There are 688 schools in the province with one or more reported COVID-19 cases and four schools are closed because of cases.
Today, there are 23 new cases of COVID-19 reported in licensed child care settings. Eleven of the cases are children and 12 are staff/care providers. Five centres and one home are closed because of COVID-19 cases.
The province reported 1,476 recoveries today, bringing the total number of active cases down.
There are currently 12,779 active, lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, which is down from 12,917 active cases yesterday. There are 523 people hospitalized with the coronavirus, which is down from 523 yesterday. There are 159 COVID patients in intensive care units and 106 COVID patients on ventilators.
Since yesterday’s report, Ontario’s public health labs have processed 36,076 COVID-19 tests and those results produced a 4.7 per cent positivity rate. There are 44,950 COVID tests awaiting processing.
To date, the province has confirmed 107,883 cases of COVID-19 and has reported 91,550 recoveries and 3,554 deaths.
In Northern Ontario, all but two of the health unit regions are currently classified as green under the province’s new regional restrictions. It means the areas are permitted the broadest allowance of Stage 3 activities.
Public Health Sudbury and District and Thunder Bay District Health Unit are in the yellow (protect) restriction level.
Since yesterday, five of the seven Northern Ontario health units reported a total of 31 new cases. There are 128 known active cases.
The breakdown of Public Health Ontario data for the rate of cases for Northern Ontario health units is:
- Algoma Public Health: 58 cases, rate of 50.7 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 60 cases. There are three known active cases. The last case was reported Nov. 24.
- North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit: 66 cases, rate of 50.9 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 68 cases. There are nine known active cases. The last cases were reported Nov. 24.
- Porcupine Health Unit: 106, rate of 127 per 100,000 people. There are three known active cases. The last case was reported Nov. 20.
- Public Health Sudbury and Districts: 222 cases, rate of 111.5 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 224 cases. There are 14 known active cases. The last case was reported Nov. 24.
- Timiskaming Health Unit: 18 cases, rate of 55.1 per 100,000 people. There is one known active case. The last case was reported Nov. 15.
- Northwestern Health Unit: 108 cases, rate of 123.2 per 100,000 people. The health unit has also reported two probable cases. There are 23 known active cases. The last case was reported Nov. 24.
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit: 248 cases, rate of 165.4 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 252 cases. There are 75 known active cases. The last cases were reported Nov. 25.
The Ontario rate of infection is 725.8.
Saskatchewan suspends sports, expands masking as COVID-19 numbers rise – Saskatoon StarPhoenix
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Restrictions will be revisited by chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab on Dec. 17.
While the province is no longer seeing “super-spreader” events, Shahab said Saskatchewan has reported an average of more than 200 new cases per day over the past week, quadruple what it saw approximately a month ago.
“Some of the measures we’ve made in the last few weeks have made a difference, but the difference has not been enough to bring our numbers down,” Shahab said.
U of S epidemiologist Dr. Cordell Neudorf said the latest set of restrictions is positive, but warned they might not be sufficient given the extent of community transmission.
His advice is to hunker down and support local businesses via curbside pickup or delivery, he said.
“The danger is that all we’re going to do is affect the slope, and the cases are just going to keep going up, and that might be enough to take our hospitals over capacity in the coming weeks. That’s the danger in this kind of move.”
Moe said the government is considering financial relief for businesses affected by new restrictions, but would not say which businesses may received it, or when further details might be provided.
He said the new measures are “significant” and expressed confidence they will reduce the infection rate.
However, he did not rule out further steps in the weeks ahead.
“Had (previous measures) worked perfectly, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
The province reported a record 111 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 19 in intensive care. Seventy-nine people were reported to have recovered.
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