Twitter attack: Cyber criminals post strobing images to trigger seizures in people with Epilepsy

Epilepsy Foundation's account was targetted by cybercriminals who shared videos of flashing strobe lights to thousands of followers.

Cyber attackers shared videos of flashing strobe lights for thousands of Twitter users who follow Epilepsy Foundation's account. The reason behind this attempt was to trigger seizures in those who are diagnosed with epilepsy, said the foundation on Monday, December 16.

This attack took place during the National Epilepsy Awareness Month when more people usually check the Twitter feed of the foundation.

Attack on Epilepsy Foundation Twitter handle

The attackers targeted the foundation's handle and used hashtags to post videos and GIFs that used triggering light flashes. As mentioned by the foundation, they have identified at least 30 different accounts participating in the calculated action.

CNN reported that Allison Nichol, the Epilepsy Foundation's director of legal advocacy said they were not able to say how many people were affected by the attacks. However, they have informed the law enforcement about the attack and will assist the investigation to ensure the attackers "are held fully accountable."

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The impact on epilepsy patients

It should be mentioned that people diagnosed with epilepsy are sensitive to particular visual patterns, such as flashing lights that may trigger seizures, said the Epilepsy Foundation.

Jacqueline French, chief medical and innovation officer of the Epilepsy Foundation said that while the population of people with this medical condition is small, so the impact could be quite serious. She also stated that many people are not aware of the issue that they have photo sensitivity until they have a seizure.

Twitter safety

A spokesperson from Twitter stated that the social media giant is focusing to make the platform safer by offering the option of preventing media from auto-playing in timelines and excluding GIFs from appearing when someone searches for "seizure" on Twitter.

In addition, the spokesperson said, "If Twitter determines accounts are dedicated to causing offline harm, they will be permanently suspended. We're exploring additional options to help protect the people on Twitter from this type of abuse."

What is epilepsy?

This is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder. In this medical condition, brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.

This article was first published on December 18, 2019
Related topics : Cybersecurity