In brief

  • Twitter has unveiled a new set of security measures ahead of the US elections.
  • Influencial and political accounts will be required to update their security.
  • The move comes months after a big Twitter hack that involved fraudulent Bitcoin donations.

Social media giant Twitter has made major security updates to its platform ahead of the US elections, the firm said in a post on Thursday.

“As we learn from the experience of past security incidents and implement changes, we’re also focused on keeping high-profile accounts on Twitter safe and secure during the 2020 US election,” the firm said.

As of Thursday, all “high-profile” and election-related accounts had been notified and were required to carry out additional security measures to protect their credentials.

Such accounts included all US executive branch and Congress members, governors, presidential campaigners, political parties, and major US news outlets and political journalists, among other political users.

Twitter said the accounts would be asked to use a stronger password and enable two-factor authentication—which provides extra security beyond just a username and password. In addition, a password reset option will be automatically enabled to prevent any unauthorized password changes.

Other additional security measures include more sophisticated detections and alerts to help them respond rapidly to suspicious activity and increased login defenses to prevent malicious account takeover attempts, the firm said.

The security features aren’t limited only to certain users. Anyone can take the requisite steps to ensure their privacy and information is safe on Twitter, the announcement said.

Bitcoin hack spurs security measures

The move comes months after Twitter was compromised by a hacker—allegedly a 17-year-old Florida teenager who was later released on bail—who managed to access its “god mode” admin panel. The hacker accessed over 25 influential Twitter accounts, such as presidential candidate Joe Biden and social influencer Kim Kardashian, and sent out fraudulent tweets that promised Bitcoin payments.

The tweets were sent out by accounts that had a combined 346 million Twitter followers and it pocketed over $120,000 worth of Bitcoin from unsuspecting users.

While the hacker only used a relatively innocent method of extracting Bitcoin, the sheer influence of Twitter on global financial markets, politics, and news could have meant outsized and irreparable damages if the access was used to tweet about a political issue.

“This attack could have caused serious damage. I'm actually glad a hacker motivated by Bitcoin profits got to the attack vector before far more nefarious actors seeking to leak private data, manipulate stock prices, manipulate elections or start wars did,” tweeted Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin at the time.

Let's hope the new security features will avoid all of the above.