Hacker breaches defenses at social news star Reddit

Reddit determined that a hacker compromised some employee accounts with cloud and source-code providers. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2018
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Hacker breaches defenses at social news star Reddit

SAN FRANCISCO: Popular social news website Reddit on Thursday was warning users that a hacker broke into its systems, intercepting some employee text messages to get past defenses.
Reddit didn’t disclose the extent of the hack, saying it was conducting a “painstaking” investigation to determine what was accessed and to harden security.
“Although this was a serious attack, the attacker did not gain write access to Reddit systems,” Reddit said in an online post.
“They gained read-only access to some systems that contained backup data, source code and other logs.”
In essence, the hacker could look at data but not change anything.
Information accessed included some current email addresses and a 2007 user database containing old passwords that were scrambled, according to Reddit, which was founded in 2005.
Reddit determined that a hacker compromised some employee accounts with cloud and source-code providers.
Reddit heightens computer security with “two-factor authentication” that requires passwords to be accompanied by temporary codes sent via text messages, but the cyber-attack involved “SMS intercept” of texted codes, according to the company.
“As website breaches go, this one doesn’t seem too severe,” cyber-security specialist Brian Krebs said in a post on his Krebs on Security website.
“What’s interesting about the incident is that it showcases once again why relying on mobile text messages (SMS) for two-factor authentication (2FA) can lull companies and end users into a false sense of security.”
The old database accessed in the hack held backup copies of Reddit user data from its first two years in operation.
Also accessed were email digests from a few weeks in June, according to Reddit.
Reddit was co-founded by Alexis Ohanian, husband of tennis superstar Serena Williams. Reddit is ranked among the most visited US websites, and has more than 138,000 “communities” for discussions on various topics.
Reddit is also known for ask-me-anything sessions with well-known people such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former US president Barack Obama.


Indian journalist condemns Twitter for blocking account after abuse online

Updated 19 February 2019
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Indian journalist condemns Twitter for blocking account after abuse online

  • Dutt's account was blocked after she posted details of men who allegedly stalked and threatened her
  • Dutt accused Twitter of being “vile enablers of sexual abuse and violence”

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: One of India’s best-known women journalists, Barkha Dutt, launched a scathing attack on Twitter Inc. on Tuesday for temporarily locking her account after she posted details of men who allegedly stalked and threatened her.
Dutt said some people had posted and circulated her phone number on Twitter, enabling the harassment, which she said included threats of rape and images of genitalia being sent to her phone.
Dutt tweeted some of the threats and images on Monday, and she included phone numbers and names of the men who allegedly threatened her, after which her account was suspended.
She posted her complaint against Twitter in a tweet on Tuesday, after her account was re-activated.
“I would like to place on record my absolute horror and disgust at Twitter’s encouragement of sexual abuse and gender inequality,” said Dutt, a former managing editor at news channel NDTV and a regular columnist with the Washington Post.
Dutt accused Twitter of being “vile enablers of sexual abuse and violence.”
Twitter said it did not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons and it referred to its rules that users may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission.
“If we identify a Tweet that violates the Twitter Rules, there are a range of enforcement options we may pursue. These include requiring a user to delete a Tweet, and/or being temporarily locked out of their account before they can Tweet again,” a spokeswoman for Twitter said in an email.
The social media platform is already facing scrutiny in India.
Its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has been called to appear before a parliamentary panel this month to discuss initiatives being taken to safeguard citizen’s rights on social media and online news platforms.
The hearing comes soon after the conservative Youth for Social Media Democracy group accused Twitter of left-wing bias and protested outside its office in New Delhi this month.
Dorsey did not appear at a hearing earlier this month.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday the parliamentary panel had written an email to Dorsey, reiterating its demand that he appear at a Feb. 25 hearing.
Twitter declined to comment on whether Dorsey would attend.
Social media giants in India are being put under greater scrutiny ahead of a general election due before May, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling party are seeking re-election.
Several social media companies are overhauling policies to curb misinformation ahead of the vote.