In battle against hackers like the Syrian Electronic Army, Twitter introduces extra security measures

Users who opt into the extra checks will get codes sent to their registered phone number

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The Independent Online

In an apparent challenge to people who hijack accounts on its service, Twitter has introduced new security measures.

With the microblogging site's new "two-factor authentication," users can choose heightened security. It will send users who opt in a text message when they try to sign in, containing a code which they will then submit, confirming that they are the rightful users of the account.

The changes were announced on the site's official blog, and come after a series of high-profile hijackings of accounts by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), anonymous supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad who believe outside media coverage of the country's long and bloody civil war from is heavily biased.

In an email interview with the Financial Times a month ago, the SEA promised to “target all the countries who support the terrorist groups in Syria,” referring to the anti-Assad rebels. Their previous targets have included the Associated Press’s Twitter account, and they falsely tweeted that President Obama had been injured by explosions at the White House. This caused shares on the Dow Jones to plummet within minutes.

In March, several official BBC Twitter accounts, including its weather feed, were hijacked, and posted a number of fake tweets relating to the war.

The first tweet after the security breach read: "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here via @Official_SEA #SEA #Syria.” The next said: “Long Live #Syria Al-Assad #SEA."

The comments included: “Saudi weather station down due to head-on collision with camel,” and: “Chaotic weather forecast for Lebanon as the government decides to distance itself from the Milky Way.”