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Twitter Adds SMS As Second Factor Of Authentication

Phone will be second means of verifying user identity, Twitter says

Twitter announced Wednesday that it will offer an SMS phone option as a second factor of user authentication.

"Every day, a growing number of people log in to Twitter," the social networking site said in a blog. "Usually these login attempts come from the genuine account owners, but we occasionally hear from people whose accounts have been compromised by email phishing schemes or a breach of password data elsewhere on the Web.

"Today we're introducing a new security feature to better protect your Twitter account: login verification," the blog states. "This is a form of two-factor authentication. When you sign in to twitter.com, there's a second check to make sure it's really you."

Twitter joins Google and other major websites in adding a second factor of authentication to their offerings this year. Google is also a member of the FIDO Alliance, which has proposed standards for replacing passwords with a more universal and secure method of authenticating users.

Observers said that Twitter's new offering will help make authentication more secure -- if users take the time to set it up.

"It's great that Twitter has released this feature, which significantly raises the bar for broad-based attacks," says Mark Risher, Yahoo's former "Spam Czar" and current CEO of security company Impermium. "As an optional feature, however, we now need to ensure that users opt-in and utilize it; two-factor does nothing if you haven't configured it in advance."

"Not all social media identities are created equal," says Entrust president and CEO Bill Conner. "Those with a material impact, such as corporate accounts, government entities, and public utilities, should be held to a higher security standard. Now that Twitter has launched an offering that account holders can opt-in to, it is the mutual responsibility of these high-profile Twitter account holders to take advantage of this security offering."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add a Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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