Twitter, the microblogging website operator, saw its stock tank in trading on Tuesday (Dec. 18), after it said it was looking into unusual traffic that could be from hackers backed by governments.
According to a report in Reuters, citing a blog post by Twitter, the social media company said it discovered the traffic to a customer support forum while looking into a security hole that makes user data, such as phone country codes, accessible to hackers. Twitter said it fixed that security vulnerability on Nov. 16, but discovered the unusual traffic while doing that work.
In its blog post this week, Twitter said it saw a lot of traffic to the customer support site coming from IP addresses residing in China and Saudi Arabia. “While we cannot confirm intent or attribution for certain, it is possible that some of these IP addresses may have ties to state-sponsored actors,” the social media company said.
News of the Twitter breach sent shares of the company lower, with Wedbush Analyst Michael Pachter telling Reuters that the stock decline is due to concerns that the breach could result in lower growth and reduced user engagement. “Clearly, a breach like this impairs user trust in the platform,” the analyst said.
Twitter’s disclosure isn’t the only security breach activity happening on the social media platform. In November, Target confirmed that its Twitter account was hacked, with scammers using its feed to trick consumers into giving away cryptocurrency. According to reports, scammers tweeted out links to so-called giveaways that called on users to send small amounts of cryptocurrency for a chance to win more than $31 million worth of bitcoin.
Twitter also revealed recently that it has received more demand from the government for data on its users between January and June of 2018 than it did during the previous reporting period. According to its most recent transparency report, Twitter said it received 10 percent more requests.