Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

Twitter, Feds Settle Security Charges

Twitter must establish and maintain a "comprehensive information security program" and allow third-party review of the program biannually for the 10 years.

Twitter has settled Federal Trade Commission charges that the social network put users' personal information at risk, while deceiving them about safeguards to protect data.

The settlement, announced Thursday, closed the FTC's first action against a social networking site for faulty security. Twitter's failings led to two well-publicized attacks, one of which resulted in a hacker gaining access to several high-profile accounts, including that of then President-elect Barack Obama.

The settlement requires Twitter to take a number of security steps to protect user data, steps the site said it has already taken. "Even before the agreement, we'd implemented many of the FTC's suggestions and the agreement formalizes our commitment to those security practices," Twitter said in response to the FTC's settlement announcement.

Nevertheless, the FTC said Twitter failed to provide the security it promised users.

"When a company promises consumers that their personal information is secure, it must live up to that promise," David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "Likewise, a company that allows consumers to designate their information as private must use reasonable security to uphold such designations."

The first security breach occurred in January 2009 when a hacker used an automated password-generation tool to continuously try to log in to a person's account. In some cases, the hacker made thousands of attempts before striking pay dirt. Twitter's culpability was in failing to implement password rules that would have led to stronger passwords, the FTC said. In addition, Twitter should have had technology in place to lock out the hacker after several failed attempts.

The hacker accessed the accounts of 45 Twitter users, including Facebook, Fox News, The Huffington Post, Obama, Britney Spears and CNN host Rick Sanchez. In some cases, the hacker sent phony tweets under the accounts. Tweets are the short messages of 140 characters or less people broadcast to followers on the site.

A bogus tweet sent from Obama's account offered his more than 150,000 followers a chance to win $500 in free gasoline, according to the FTC.

The second breach occurred in April 2009 when a hacker broke into a Twitter employee's administrative account by first accessing the employee's Yahoo e-mail account, where the password was stored in plain text.

In gaining access to the administrative account, the hacker could access private information from any Twitter user, according to the FTC. The hacker did post more than a dozen screenshots of Twitter's administrative console on several Web sites.

To help prevent the second breach, Twitter should have prohibited employees from storing passwords within personal e-mail accounts, enforced periodic changes of administrative passwords, restricted access to administrative controls to employees whose jobs required it and imposed other reasonable restrictions on administrative access, the FTC said.

Under the terms of the settlement. Twitter is barred for 20 years from misleading users about the extent to which it protects their privacy and personal information. The company also must establish and maintain a "comprehensive information security program," the FTC said. A third party has to assess the program every other year for 10 years.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-24028
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-14
An invalid free in Thrift's table-based serialization can cause the application to crash or potentially result in code execution or other undesirable effects. This issue affects Facebook Thrift prior to v2021.02.22.00.
CVE-2021-29370
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A UXSS was discovered in the Thanos-Soft Cheetah Browser in Android 1.2.0 due to the inadequate filter of the intent scheme. This resulted in Cross-site scripting on the cheetah browser in any website.
CVE-2021-3460
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
The Motorola MH702x devices, prior to version 2.0.0.301, do not properly verify the server certificate during communication with the support server which could lead to the communication channel being accessible by an attacker.
CVE-2021-3462
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Lenovo Power Management Driver for Windows 10, prior to version 1.67.17.54, that could allow unauthorized access to the driver's device object.
CVE-2021-3463
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A null pointer dereference vulnerability in Lenovo Power Management Driver for Windows 10, prior to version 1.67.17.54, that could cause systems to experience a blue screen error.