Attacks/Breaches
8/7/2013
11:20 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Twitter Overhauls Two Factor Authentication System

Take two: Twitter drops SMS for private keys stored on Android or iPhone smartphones, adds previously missing recovery capability.

10 Twitter Power Tips
(click image for larger view)
10 Twitter Power Tips
Twitter unveiled version 2.0 of its home-built two-factor authentication system Tuesday, which the company promised was "more secure" than its previous offering.

Dubbed "login verification," Twitter's new approach eschews sending one-time codes via SMS to a phone. Instead, the second factor is provided via a unique, private key that resides only on a user's Android or iPhone, and which is generated by the Twitter app.

"When you enroll, your phone generates an asymmetric 2048-bit RSA keypair, which stores the private key locally on the device and sends the public key, which Twitter stores as part of your user object in our backend store, to the server," said Twitter security engineer Alex Smolen in a blog post.

If a user enables the feature, whenever someone attempts to log into his Twitter account -- using a valid username and password -- the site then sends a push notification, requesting verification, to the user's smartphone.

[ Who's worth following? Read 10 IT Leaders To Follow On Twitter. ]

"Within your Twitter app, you can then view the outstanding request, which includes several key pieces of information: time, geographical location, browser and the login request's challenge nonce [one-time request ID]," said Smolen. "At that point, you can choose to approve or deny the request. If you approve the request, the client will use its private key to respond by signing the challenge. If the signature is correct, the login request will be marked as verified."

What happens if the smartphone that's been used to generate the private key for a user's Twitter account goes missing? Helpfully, Twitter now offers a one-time-use backup code. "We encourage you to store it somewhere safe," said Smolen, who noted that this code is randomly generated, using an algorithm inspired by S/KEY. In addition, that code is hashed 10,000 times "to make the backup code work without sharing secrets," he said, meaning an attacker shouldn't be able to reverse-engineer the code and recover a password.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Moderator
8/8/2013 | 2:19:03 AM
re: Twitter Overhauls Two Factor Authentication System
Seems like a promising approach.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0103
Published: 2014-07-29
WebAccess in Zarafa before 7.1.10 and WebApp before 1.6 stores credentials in cleartext, which allows local Apache users to obtain sensitive information by reading the PHP session files.

CVE-2014-0475
Published: 2014-07-29
Multiple directory traversal vulnerabilities in GNU C Library (aka glibc or libc6) before 2.20 allow context-dependent attackers to bypass ForceCommand restrictions and possibly have other unspecified impact via a .. (dot dot) in a (1) LC_*, (2) LANG, or other locale environment variable.

CVE-2014-0889
Published: 2014-07-29
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in IBM Atlas Suite (aka Atlas Policy Suite), as used in Atlas eDiscovery Process Management through 6.0.3, Disposal and Governance Management for IT through 6.0.3, and Global Retention Policy and Schedule Management through 6.0.3, allow remote atta...

CVE-2014-2226
Published: 2014-07-29
Ubiquiti UniFi Controller before 3.2.1 logs the administrative password hash in syslog messages, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to obtains sensitive information via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-3020
Published: 2014-07-29
install.sh in the Embedded WebSphere Application Server (eWAS) 7.0 before FP33 in IBM Tivoli Integrated Portal (TIP) 2.1 and 2.2 sets world-writable permissions for the installRoot directory tree, which allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse program.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio