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.

Threat Intelligence

10/15/2020
03:45 PM
50%
50%

Twitter Hack Analysis Drives Calls for Greater Security Regulation

New York's Department of Financial Services calls for more cybersecurity regulation at social media firms following the "jarringly easy" Twitter breach.

UPDATE: Twitter today confirmed it's investigating irregularity with its APIs. We will update as we know more information about the problem. 

New York's Department of Financial Services (DFS) is calling for greater cybersecurity regulation at social media firms following an investigation into the July 15 Twitter breach. The attackers' ability to achieve "extraordinary access" using "simple" techniques highlights the potential for major security incidents at similarly large and powerful tech companies, researchers report.

Related Content:

Twitter Hack: The Spotlight that Insider Threats Need

2020 State of Cybersecurity Operations and Incident Response

New on The Edge: What's Really Happening in Infosec Hiring Now?

Twitter, a $37 billion company with at least 330 million monthly active users, made headlines this summer when attackers used a social engineering scam to trick Twitter employees into handing over credentials into Twitter's corporate network. As indicated in the DFS report, the hackers claimed they were responding to a reported problem the employee was having with Twitter's virtual private network (VPN). Since switching to remote work, VPN issues were common at the company.

With this initial compromise, the attackers were able to navigate Twitter's internal websites and learn more about its information systems. They learned how to access internal applications and with this learned who they should target to access internal tools needed to take over a user's account. They took over accounts with desirable usernames and sold access to them.

Attackers then turned things up a notch and targeted high-profile accounts belonging to Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, and Kanye West, in addition to companies such as Uber and Apple. They used this access to launch a scam and posted several tweets requesting followers to send Bitcoin – a scheme that netted them about $118,000. 

Shortly after the attack, three individuals ages 17, 19, and 22 were charged for their roles in the hack. As the DFS points out, it was "jarringly easy" for young hackers to break into Twitter and hijack accounts belonging to some of the world's most prominent people and companies. While these attackers were focused on fraud, advanced adversaries could do far greater damage.

This incident underscores the need for strong security to "curb the potential weaponization of major social media companies," officials wrote. Public institutions haven't caught up with the new challenges that social media presents. Other industries, such as utilities, finance, telecommunications, and other critical infrastructure, have established regulation to ensure the public interest is protected. The same should be done for large and systemically important social media companies, they argue. 

"The Twitter Hack demonstrates, more than anything, the risk to society when systemically important institutions are left to regulate themselves," officials wrote. "Protecting systemically important social media against misuse is crucial for all of us–consumers, voters, government, and industry."

Read the full investigation report for more details on the Twitter hack and recommended steps for improving cybersecurity oversight of large social media companies.

Dark Reading's Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Ransomware Is Not the Problem
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
News
New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Google's new See No Evil policy......
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
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-2021-24368
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-20
The Quiz And Survey Master – Best Quiz, Exam and Survey Plugin WordPress plugin before 7.1.18 did not sanitise or escape its result_id parameter when displaying an existing quiz result page, leading to a reflected Cross-Site Scripting issue. This c...
CVE-2021-31664
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
RIOT-OS 2021.01 before commit 44741ff99f7a71df45420635b238b9c22093647a contains a buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-33185
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS contains a buffer overflow in the set_range test in TestBitmap which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-33186
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS in test-crypto.cpp contains a stack buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-31272
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS before commit 3844e8569689dd476064a0759d704bc64fb3ca2c contains a directory traversal vulnerability in tar/unzip that may lead to command execution or privilege escalation.