Hackers stole the email addresses of more than 200 million Twitter users and posted them on an online hacking forum, quoting a security researcher Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The breach “will, unfortunately, lead to a lot of hacking, targeted phishing and doxxing”, Alon Gal, co-founder of Israeli cybersecurity monitoring firm Hudson Rock, wrote on LinkedIn. He called it “one of the most significant leaks I’ve seen”.
Twitter has not commented on the report, which Gal first posted about on social media on 24 December, nor responded to inquiries about the breach since that date. It was not clear what action, if any, Twitter has taken to investigate or remediate the issue.
Reuters could not independently verify if the data on the forum was authentic and came from Twitter. Screenshots of the hacker forum, where the data appeared on Wednesday, have circulated online.
Troy Hunt, creator of breach notification site Have I Been Pwned, viewed the leaked data and said on Twitter that it seemed “pretty much what it’s been described as”.
There were no clues to the identity or location of the hacker or hackers behind the breach. It may have taken place as early as 2021, which was before Elon Musk took over ownership of the company last year.
Claims about the size and scope of the breach initially varied with early accounts in December saying 400m email addresses and phone numbers were stolen.
A major breach at Twitter may interest regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. The data protection commission in Ireland, where Twitter has its European headquarters, and the US Federal Trade Commission have been monitoring the Elon Musk-owned company for compliance with European data protection rules and a US consent order respectively.