Prominent China watchers suffer Twitter hacks

Summary:In the wake of China's leadership transfer, high-profile journalists, reporters and activists based in China say hackers attempted to hijack their Twitter accounts after they received e-mail notifying them to reset their passwords.

On the opening day of China's ongoing leadership transfer, several prominent journalists, academics, activists and polital watchers are reporting that their Twitter accounts have been hacked.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Thursday these high-profile individuals had received warning messages from Twitter saying their accounts were being tampered with.

One of them, David Bandurski, a researcher at the University of Hong Kong's China Media Project, furnished the e-mail from Twitter which read: "Twitter believes that you account may have been compromised by a Web site or other service not associated with Twitter. We've reset your password to prevent others from accessing your account."

Patrick Chovanec, business professor at Tsinghua University, was another who reportedly experienced a similar attack on his account. He wrote on Twitter Thursday: "Wow, my Twitter account just got hacked. Party Congresses are such fun."

When asked by WSJ what caused the problem, Chovanec said: "All I know is what I experienced, I have no basis for understanding what it was about, or who did it."

Other affected Chinese political watchers include journalists Mara Hvistendahl, Christina Larson, Adam Minter, Ray Kwong, and Mei Fong, Chinese political cartoonist Hexie Farm, and publication Offbeat China

It is not known who, or which organization, was behind the spate unauthorized login attempts.

Twitter subsequently posted up a message on Friday clarifying its position for sending the warning messages. It wrote: "In instances when we believe an account may have been compromised, we reset the password and send an e-mail letting the account owner know this has happened along with information about creating a new password. This is a routine part of our processes to protect our users.

"In this case, we unintentionally reset passwords of a larger number of accounts, beyond those that we believed to have been compromised. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused."

Topics: Security, China

About

Elly grew up on the adrenaline of crime fiction and it spurred her interest in cybercrime, privacy and the terror on the dark side of IT. At ZDNet Asia, she has made it her mission to warn readers of upcoming security threats, while also covering other tech issues.

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