CALIFORNIA, U.S. – Twitter found itself in a tough spot this week after revealing that it had recorded “unusual activity” from two countries and further stated that it suspected the traffic came from state-sponsored hackers.
The microblogging site, which has remained rather low profile as Facebook continues to be mired in a string of scandals over user data privacy, saw its shares tumbling on Monday after it revealed an internal investigation into the issue it had been facing.
Twitter said in a blog post that it had discovered “suspicious traffic” to a customer-support forum while investigating a security bug last month.
The site revealed in its blog that it was investigating a large amount of traffic to the customer support site coming from individual internet IP addresses in China and Saudi Arabia.
Twitter said it believed the unusual traffic might be from state-sponsored hackers.
It wrote in the blog post, “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. We continue to err on the side of full transparency in this area and have updated law enforcement on our findings.”
Twitter said that it had informed the authorities about the discovery in the interest of “full transparency.”
According to the company, it observed the strange traffic from the two countries when it was fixing a bug that exposed data, including users’ phone country codes and details on locked accounts.
Twitter pointed out that the bug had been fixed on November 16.
The situation of the microblogging site became more precarious as a security firm revealed around the same that hackers had used the platform to try and steal user data.
The security software maker Trend Micro revealed in its blog post that attackers sent out two tweets in October in a bid to steal data from previously infected machines.
According to Trend Micro, the hackers hid instructions in tweeted memes that secretly ordered infected devices to send information like usernames, screen images and other content.
Twitter has refused to comment on the findings of the security firm.
However, the revelations by Trend Micro, along with its own revelations about the unusual traffic linked to state-sponsored hackers sent Twitter’s shares tumbling.
On Tuesday, the Chinese government maintained its denial of any involvement in hacking or other forms of internet attacks.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that China is dedicated to cracking down on such behaviour.
Chunying said that China’s position on internet security and attacks was consistent and that the country was hoping all sides can deal with this issue via talks and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect.