Understanding Twitter’s Security Enhancements

Understanding Twitter’s Security Enhancements

Understanding Twitter’s Security Enhancements

Last week Twitter announced a significant security enhancement – enablement of forward secrecy on twitter.com, api.twitter.com, and mobile.twitter.com domains. The prime objective of this change is to deprive hackers of an important exploitation tool.

Why was this necessary?

In the past 18 months, Twitter, akin to many other social network companies, has come under several cyber attacks by hacking community. Though not publicly acknowledged, some of them may have lead to data breaches as well. attacks-twitter

Also in between a new adversary has emerged in the form of Govt. assisted programs like NSA. It is now widely believed that such programs have collected user data without consent or knowledge of companies.

Quite naturally these social network companies are concerned about the breach of users’ privacy and data. In addition to downtime or data loss the biggest risk from such attacks is loss of reputation and the trust of millions of subscribers. No business can afford to ignore concerns of such a large number of users and hence action was imminent.

How would forward secrecy help

It is a common practice that an adversary would capture the targets network traffic and mine it for crucial information. Plain text (i.e. not encrypted) traffic can be very easily skimmed for passwords and other PIIs. So Twitter and other companies decided to switch to HTTPS which meant that network traffic was travelling in an encrypted form.

But even this was not enough especially when the company used a limited set of secret keys to encrypt the traffic. Once the adversary obtained one or more such secret keys they could de-crypt the whole traffic captured earlier. To circumvent this risk Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommended the site to implement Forward Secrecy or also known as Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS).

In forward secrecy the session keys used by servers are truly ephemeral. Twitter implemented it by enabling the EC Diffie-Hellman cipher suite. In this scheme the client and server manage to come up with a shared, random session key without ever sending the key across the network, even under encryption.

Due to this it becomes extremely difficult (though when it comes to security nothing is impossible) to de-crypt previously captured traffic and also does not help in guessing future encryption keys.

Is this all Twitter would have done towards improving security?

The recent announcement will help strengthen user confidence and stop them from exploring other options. The EFF had recommended implementation of additional security features like HTTP Strict Transport Security; secure cookies, encryption of data center links, STARTTLS, and certificate pinning and Twitter is doing good on that front.

Forward secrecy largely affects the traffic in transit, one of the three broad areas where security lapse can occur.

Another set of changes concern end users directly. HTTPS is something that end users might have noticed on their browser. Earlier in May this year twitter introduced improved login verification using two factor authentication.  They also educate users on improved secure practices.

Finally Twitter must have taken measures for better in-house handling of data. Organization security policies and practices, cloud base backup and recovery plans and procedures or physical security come into ambit. This is something that only internal employees might have been informed about.

Does this all make Twitter future safe?

Not really. Security is always a dynamic system. Something that seems secure today may become vulnerable tomorrow. Not so long ago HTTPS alone was considered safe. These steps may be sufficient for now, but surely will get revisited in future.

Twitter thus joins other cloud companies like Facebook, Google and Dropbox in implementing these measures. With all leading cloud companies implementing it, soon this will become the default level of security.

By Manoj Tiwari

About CloudTweaks

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading authorities in connected technology information and services.

We embrace and instill thought leadership insights, relevant and timely news related stories, unbiased benchmark reporting as well as offer green/cleantech learning and consultive services around the world.

Our vision is to create awareness and to help find innovative ways to connect our planet in a positive eco-friendly manner.

In the meantime, you may connect with CloudTweaks by following and sharing our resources.

View All Articles

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Comic
Fintech Exploiting AI and Blockchain Technology

Fintech Exploiting AI and Blockchain Technology

AI and Blockchain Technology The field of artificial intelligence (AI) had progressed rapidly in the last ten years, though first recognized in the 1950s. From autonomous motor vehicles to digital personal assistants, the technology is making its way into a variety of industries, enabling better task automation, language processing, and data analytics. But more recently,…

Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security It’s no secret many organizations rely on popular cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft for access to computing infrastructure. The many perks of cloud services, such as the ability to quickly scale resources without the upfront cost of buying physical servers, have helped build a multibillion-dollar cloud industry that continues to grow each…

What’s On The Horizon For Cloud Computing

What’s On The Horizon For Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Trends Now that we are a little more than halfway through 2016, many experts are beginning to make their predictions about cloud computing for the rest of the year and beyond. While many of the trends aren’t too unexpected (the ever increasing acceptance of cloud solutions by businesses, for instance) other trends are…

Tesla Solar Plan Would Cost Billions To Implement

Tesla Solar Plan Would Cost Billions To Implement

A 1,500-word manifesto that Elon Musk unveiled last week, outlining his plan to expand Tesla Motors Inc.’s electric-vehicle line and to build “stunning solar roofs,” may end up costing the company tens of billions of dollars to carry out. Musk, Tesla’s chairman and chief executive officer, gave the estimate on Tuesday after a tour of the…

Healthcare IoT Security To Grow To $47 Billion In 2021

Healthcare IoT Security To Grow To $47 Billion In 2021

Healthcare IoT Security It’s obvious that IoT can make the entire healthcare industry more efficient. The kind of data involved can be used to save time, physical energy and operating costs. Because of this, devices that facilitate medical data are becoming more commonplace in the industry. This includes things such as wearables that can track…

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

Paying Attention To Data Security Your biggest data security threat could be sitting next to you… Data security is a big concern for businesses. The repercussions of a data security breach ranges from embarrassment, to costly lawsuits and clean-up jobs – particularly when confidential client information is involved. But although more and more businesses are…

5 Ways To Ensure Your Cloud Solution Is Always Operational

5 Ways To Ensure Your Cloud Solution Is Always Operational

Ensure Your Cloud Is Always Operational We have become so accustomed to being online that we take for granted the technological advances that enable us to have instant access to everything and anything on the internet, wherever we are. In fact, it would likely be a little disconcerting if we really mapped out all that…

Multi-Cloud Integration Has Arrived

Multi-Cloud Integration Has Arrived

Multi-Cloud Integration Speed, flexibility, and innovation require multiple cloud services As businesses seek new paths to innovation, racing to market with new features and products, cloud services continue to grow in popularity. According to Gartner, 88% of total compute will be cloud-based by 2020, leaving just 12% on premise. Flexibility remains a key consideration, and…

Cloud And The Military – In The US

Cloud And The Military – In The US

Cloud And The Military Scandalous cost overruns; the newest high tech doesn’t work any better than very old tech; sweetheart monopoly deals with favorite defense contractors; sole sourcing key components from our enemies – the litany just goes on and on. The military’s relationship with technology always seems to be like watching a slow motion…

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 1

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 1

Incident Response Planning – Part 1 The topic of cybersecurity has become part of the boardroom agendas in the last couple of years, and not surprisingly — these days, it’s almost impossible to read news headlines without noticing yet another story about a data breach. As cybersecurity shifts from being a strictly IT issue to…

5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

Cloud Computing Education The benefits of cloud computing are being recognized in businesses and institutions across the board, with almost 90 percent of organizations currently using some kind of cloud-based application. The immediate benefits of cloud computing are obvious: cloud-based applications reduce infrastructure and IT costs, increase accessibility, enable collaboration, and allow organizations more flexibility…

Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud We’ve been covering cloud computing extensively over the past number of years on CloudTweaks and have truly enjoyed watching the adoption and growth of it. Many novices are still trying to wrap their mind around what the cloud it is and what it does, while others such as thought…

Consequences Of Combining Off Premise Cloud Storage and Corporate Data

Consequences Of Combining Off Premise Cloud Storage and Corporate Data

Off Premise Corporate Data Storage Cloud storage is a broad term. It can encompass anything from on premise solutions, to file storage, disaster recovery and off premise options. To narrow the scope, I’ve dedicated the focus of today’s discussion to the more popular cloud storage services—such as Dropbox, Box, OneDrive—which are also known as hosted,…

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us to Do Better The cloud has made our working lives easier, with everything from virtually unlimited email storage to access-from-anywhere enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It’s no wonder the 2013 cloud computing research IDG survey revealed at least 84 percent of the companies surveyed run at least one cloud-based application.…

The Global Rise of Cloud Computing

The Global Rise of Cloud Computing

The Global Rise of Cloud Computing Despite the rapid growth of cloud computing, the cloud still commands a small portion of overall enterprise IT spending. Estimates I’ve seen put the percentage between 5% and 10% of the slightly more than $2 trillion (not including telco) spent worldwide in 2014 on enterprise IT. Yet growth projections…

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups Traditionally actors headed for Hollywood while techies made a beeline for Silicon Valley. But times are changing, and with technological job opportunities expanding (Infographic), new hotspots are emerging that offer fantastic opportunities for tech jobs and startup companies in the industry. ZipRecruiter, an online recruitment and job…