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Twitter Discover Bug That Could Compromise Account Passwords

by Albert Petrosyan

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Twitter have announced that they have discovered a bug in their systems that could compromise account passwords.

The announcement came on May 3rd as the social media giants have informed their users to take precaution.

Created in March of 2006, Twitter quickly established itself as one of the most prominent social media platforms on the internet and, as of 2016, had more than 319 million active users.

Many are attracted by Twitter's simplicity and efficiency and have turned to it to quickly get their news, interact with others, and express themselves to their followers.

With such a vast user-base, Twitter understandably prioritizes user privacy and security, which makes this latest development slightly daunting.

 

It would be safe to assume that a considerable portion of Twitter users use the same password on the website that they do on at least one other service.

Therefore, despite the fact that the bug has been fixed and there appear to be no indications of misuse, Twitter recommends that their users change their password on all services where they've used it.

Essentially, the bug that they have found unmasks the users' passwords that are stored in a hidden internal log that is normally encrypted and cannot be viewed by employees.

It will be worth keeping an eye on the situation to see whether there are any long-term effects of this security issue. 

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A more detailed explanation of the issue can be seen below, or on the official Twitter blog.

When you set a password for your Twitter account, we use technology that masks it so no one at the company can see it. We recently identified a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We have fixed the bug, and our investigation shows no indication of breach or misuse by anyone.

Out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password. You can change your Twitter password anytime by going to the password settings page.

About The Bug

We mask passwords through a process called hashing using a function known as bcrypt, which replaces the actual password with a random set of numbers and letters that are stored in Twitter’s system. This allows our systems to validate your account credentials without revealing your password. This is an industry standard.  

Due to a bug, passwords were written to an internal log before completing the hashing process. We found this error ourselves, removed the passwords, and are implementing plans to prevent this bug from happening again.

Tips on Account Security

Again, although we have no reason to believe password information ever left Twitter’s systems or was misused by anyone, there are a few steps you can take to help us keep your account safe:

  1. Change your password on Twitter and on any other service where you may have used the same password.
  2. Use a strong password that you don’t reuse on other websites.
  3. Enable login verification, also known as two factor authentication. This is the single best action you can take to increase your account security.
  4. Use a password manager to make sure you’re using strong, unique passwords everywhere.

We are very sorry this happened. We recognize and appreciate the trust you place in us, and are committed to earning that trust every day.