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Twitter Accounts Get Hacked for Demo to Reveal Security Gaps

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Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) recently came under fire after British firm Insinia hacked a few accounts effortlessly without even entering a password. This was done just to bring to attention certain flaws in Twitter’s account security system.

Among the accounts compromised were those of British documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux and news anchor Eamonn Holmes. The vulnerability stems from Twitter’s SMS access feature.

Soon after its glitches were highlighted, Twitter released a statement saying that the vulnerabilities have been fixed. However, researchers at Insinia yet again demonstrated via interaction with a few more accounts that the bug still existed.

Security Concerns Affect Twitter

Twitter has recently been in the national glare with reports a possible antitrust probe. The company was among a number of tech giants like Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google, Facebook (FB - Free Report) and Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) that are likely to face antitrust probe by the U.S. government.

The White House had reportedly issued a draft executive order this September, instructing a thorough investigation on the conduct of social media and internet companies, by federal antitrust and law enforcement officials.

Overall, 2018 was a year of alarming number of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Massive data breaches last year reflected the loopholes in the security systems around the world. The attacks continued this year as well.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal in March, in particular, had an impact on all media stocks. It was reported that Twitter had sold data access to millions of Facebook users.

In third-quarter 2018, Twitter’s adjusted monthly average users (MAUs) totaled 326 million, down from 330 million in the year-ago quarter and 9 million in the second quarter. However, Twitter reported that “spammy and suspicious accounts” accounted for less than 5% of MAU in the reported quarter. On the back of concerted “health efforts” to minimize suspicious new accounts, the company witnessed a quarter-over-quarter decline of 20% in successful sign-ups.

Efforts to Boost User Engagement

However, Twitter spent the year taking steps to improve security on its platform. The company not only improved the sign-up process but also audited existing accounts for signs of automated sign-up.

The company “identified and challenged more than 9.9 million potentially spammy or automated accounts per week” in May 2018, which is a substantial increase from December and September 2017, in which it challenged 6.4 and 3.2 million accounts, respectively.

Notably, the number of spam-related reports it gets from users has declined on average.Distribution of trade secrets and private information will also be under the purview of Twitter officials.  

Moreover, under its re-elected CEO, Jack Dorsey, the company is focusing on boosting user growth rate and engagement levels.

We believe the company’s recent efforts will help it build trust and repair brand image, thereby improving user engagement.

Twitter currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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