Twitter is encouraging all of its 330-million strong user base to change their passwords amid a bug alert, as an internal error has allowed a bug to expose such passwords in plain text. Users and fans of the popular social media platform don’t have to be immediately alarmed, however, as there doesn’t appear any evidence of any misuse or breaches. So what happened?
Execs and developers at Twitter expressed their concerns for users who have used their Twitter logins to places such as TweetDeck and Twitterrific, as the bug exposure may have left these places vulnerable. They said password changes based on an “abundance of caution” is still recommended to avoid any potential “disasters” due to the supposed breach.
Looking Back: A Plain Text Anomaly
A statement explains the bug manifested out of an issue in what’s known as the “hashing” process. This originally serves as the mechanism that hides passwords of users by instead “replacing” them with a random character string that gets stored inside Twitter’s database. An internal error however converted the strings back to plain text inside an internal log. Twitter devs claimed to have removed the passwords after seeing the bug in the system, and is now working to ensure users this won’t happen again.
The social media platform hasn’t revealed just how much user data was “revealed” in the breach, much more potentially compromised. It also wasn’t able to clarify just how long the bug was in the system and may have been “leaking” the passwords to malicious parties. The paranoid and the extra careful may have noticed that given Twitter is encouraging all its users to change passwords, however, may suggest this number is large.
This may also just be Twitter’s way of wanting to avert another Cambridge Analytica crisis, where it can be remembered that Facebook is now under heat for apparently misusing user data with the aforementioned data body.
Looking Further Back: Humble Beginnings
Fans of Twitter can remember its small beginnings as an online social networking and news service that started last 2006 by Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Noah Glass, and Jack Dorsey. The service achieved global popularity in a few years, with 2012 having the service reach as much as 100 million users. The website is said to handle more than 1.6-billion search queries every day from a user base that tweets 340-million times daily.
Previous twitter policies forced “tweets” or messages to be at 140 characters long, which has since then been removed by the service. The Silicon Valley-based app has also been proclaimed the biggest source of breaking news during the United States presidential elections last 2016.
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