Twitter shares stumble after high-profile, unprecedented hack

Credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

July 16 (Reuters) - Shares of Twitter Inc TWTR.N dropped more than 4% in pre-market trading on Thursday, a day after hackers gained access to the social media company's internal systems to hijack accounts of several politicians, billionaires, celebrities and companies.

Hackers infiltrated the twitter handles of U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, former U.S. President Barack Obama and billionaire Elon Musk to solicit digital currency - raising major concerns about security on the widely-used platform.

The hack "certainly doesn't help," Joe Wittine, Edgewater Research analyst, told Reuters in an email. It will pose more of a "reputational risk", versus "material near-term risk to advertising revenues."

Twitter said hackers targeted employees with access to its internal systems and "used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf."

In an extraordinary step, Twitter temporarily prevented many verified accounts from publishing messages as it investigated the breach.

Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said in a tweet on Wednesday that it was a "tough day" for everyone at Twitter and pledged to share "everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened."

Other high profile accounts that were hacked included rapper Kanye West, Amazon AMZN.O founder Jeff Bezos, investor Warren Buffett, Microsoft Corp MSFT.O co-founder Bill Gates, and the corporate accounts for Uber UBER.N and Apple Inc AAPL.O. Several accounts of cryptocurrency-focused organizations were also hijacked.

Publicly available blockchain records show that the apparent scammers received more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency.

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera, Aakash Jagadeesh Babu and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

((subrat.patnaik@tr.com; +1 646 223 2742; Twitter: @Subrat_Patnaik;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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