"Social media platforms have quickly become the leading source of news and information, yet no regulator has adequate oversight of their cybersecurity. The fact that Twitter was vulnerable to an unsophisticated attack shows that self-regulation is not the answer," Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell was quoted as saying in an investigation report issued by The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS).
The hackers accessed Twitter's systems with a simple technique: by calling Twitter employees and claiming to be from Twitter's IT department, said the report.
After the hackers duped four employees into giving them their log-in credentials, they hijacked the Twitter accounts of politicians, celebrities, and entrepreneurs, including Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian West, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and several cryptocurrency companies regulated by the department - accounts with millions of followers, it added.
"As we approach an election in fewer than 30 days, we must commit to greater regulatory oversight of large social media companies. The integrity of our elections and markets depends on it. The swift and effective response of DFS-regulated cryptocurrency companies illustrates how effective regulation can foster innovation and growth, while also protecting consumers," warned the superintendent.
The department is issuing this report to "alert consumers and voters as they prepare to exercise their basic rights in American democracy, in one of the most consequential elections in generations."
The department's report especially recommended that the largest social media companies, whose platforms reach millions of people around the world, should be designated as systemically important institutions with prudent regulation to manage heightened cybersecurity risk.
In 2019, Twitter had more than 330 million average users per month. According to the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Americans on Twitter use the platform as a source for news, and 42 percent of Americans engage on Twitter to discuss politics.