Twitter Issues Apology After Password Debacle

Twitter is the latest in a long line of Web-based companies to issue an apology after an overly robust response to a security threat.

The microblogging site Twitter—which recently made headlines, thanks to the executive power cast off by the recently re-elected president—has issued an apology following an accident in which the company reset passwords that had not been affected by a concurrent security concern. Although some Twitter accounts had been compromised, the company accidentally overreached, resetting user passwords that were unaffected.

“We’re committed to keeping Twitter a safe and open community. As part of that commitment, in instances when we believe an account may have been compromised, we reset the password and send an email 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,” the statement read. “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.”

A recent report by Symantec security researchers suggested cyber-criminals are increasingly using Twitter to lure mobile device users to their malware, a development that could make the site increasingly vulnerable for personal users and the small and midsize business community.

Twitter users are growing, according to a study by Pew Research Center that was released May 30. While the total number of online adults using Twitter has increased only modestly over the last year, the percentage of those adults now using Twitter daily doubled between May 2011 and February 2012, when 8 percent of users stated daily usage.

Social media platforms are under increasing pressure, not only when it comes to mishaps in response to a security threat, but also in the way they collect and protect information about their rapidly growing user base. In the face of such threats, Twitter in January acquired security company Dasient, which launched its first Web anti-malware platform capable of scanning links and Websites for harmful content in 2009. The following year, it introduced a service designed to protect advertising networks and publishers from malicious online advertisements.

Small businesses are increasingly adopting social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to boost their business, but struggle to devote adequate time and resources to their efforts, according to an online survey of 462 businesses (93 percent with less than 100 employees), conducted between Sept. 17 and Oct. 5 by VerticalResponse, a provider of self-service marketing solutions for small businesses. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they Twitter; 29 percent of businesses surveyed post on the site at least once per day.

As an aside, it might be worth thinking about keeping your friends close, but keeping your Twitter feed carefully cordoned off from the eyes of your employers, if a May report from IT research firm Gartner is any indication. The Gartner study, which focused on the growth in monitoring employee behavior in digital environments, found that corporate monitoring of employee behavior on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn would rise to 60 percent by 2015, as businesses look to crack down on possible security breaches and incidents.