Twitter Reveals Hackers Targeted 130 Accounts; Top Analyst Sees Stock ‘Overhang’


Twitter Inc. (TWTR) reported over the weekend that hackers targeted about 130 user accounts during a cybersecurity breach on Wednesday.

The social media giant said that hackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter’s internal systems to target 130 accounts. Among the affected accounts were high-profile users including U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, Tesla’s (TSLA) Elon Musk and TV star Kim Kardashian.

For 45 of those accounts, the attackers managed to do a password reset, log in to the account, and send tweets.

For up to eight of the accounts involved, the hackers took the additional step of downloading information through the so-called Twitter data tool, which provide account owners with a summary of their account details and activity. The company added that “none of the eight were verified accounts”.

Overall, Twitter believes that for the vast majority of hacked accounts, private information was not accessed.

“We are continuing our forensic review of all of the accounts to confirm all actions that may have been taken,” Twitter said in a blog post. “In addition, we believe they may have attempted to sell some of the usernames.”

Following the incident, Twitter said that it locked down and regained control of the compromised accounts.

“Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a tweet. “We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”

Twitter shares rose 1.5% to $35.81 at the close on Friday taking the year-to-date advance to 12%.

Following the security breach incident, five-star analyst John Egbert at Stifel Nicolaus maintained a Hold rating on the stock with a $26 price target (27% downside potential), saying that he remains cautious on Twitter’s outlook as a deeper investigation into its security and privacy practices could create a lengthy “overhang” on the stock.

“The breach, which appears to be Twitter’s fault rather than the account owners’, will likely lead to regulatory scrutiny and the need for incremental investment into the company’s security infrastructure and protocols,” Egbert wrote in a note to investors.

Turning now to the rest of Wall Street, TipRanks data shows that analysts share Egbert’s outlook on the stock. The Hold consensus breaks down into 19 Holds and 2 Sells versus 5 Buys. The $32.17 average price target implies 10% downside potential in the shares the coming 12 months. (See Twitter stock analysis on TipRanks).

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