Here is the main story, http://www.techcrunch.com/..
Executive Summary: Hacker finds gmail address of employee. Goes to Gmail’s lost password function. Sees secondary email account is a hotmail account that is deactivated. Creates new hotmail account with that address. Recovers password. Changes password back for stealth. Then has access to Google Apps on the twitter.com domain.
Basically, here is what happened:
A young Frenchman named “Hacker Croll” got interested in web security, social engineering a few years ago. He is unemployed. He wanted to hack into Twitter.
- He starts doing web searches on Twitter, accumulating vast amounts of names and email addresses of Twitter employees
- From there he uses the “Forgot Password” on a Twitter employees gmail address.
- Unable to determine what it is by guessing, he asks for a hint. Gmail balances usability with security by offering users to have a second email account attached to the main email account in case of password resets. Gmail informs Hacker Croll that they sent a password reset to “******@h******.com”
- Hacker Croll guesses that it is probably a hotmail account, so uses the same username at hotmail.com to check the email address
- Hotmail recycles old usernames, so the username was deleted.
- Hacker Croll creates a new hotmail user account with the twitter employees username. Asks for the password reset from the Twitter Employee’s gmail and gets the reset.
- Hacker Croll then searches through the account and finds what the password was before he changed it, so he could reset it and not alert the Twitter Employee.
Now, he has completely shadowed a twitter employees account and has their ‘main’ reused password. He uses that password to gain access to Google Apps on the Twitter domain. There he hit the goldmine with emails, and email attachments. Then he took control of their personal email, work email, iTunes (iTunes has a security hole that you can see the complete credit card numbers), banking account information, ATT, MobileMe, Amazon, everywhere the person was a customer through the vast amount of emails he had control of.
Then the CEO of Twitter downplayed the attack, so Hacker Croll got offended and sent all of the documents to TechCrunch to prove the severity of the attack. Then, they published a wealth of internal Twitter memos, strategies, and other documents. Here is HC’s apology.
I would like to offer my personal apology to Twitter. I think this company has a great future ahead of it.
I did not do this to profit from the information. Security is an area that fascinated me for many years and I want to do my job. In my everyday life, I help people to guard against the dangers of the Internet. I learned the basic rules .. For example: Be careful where you click the files that you download and what you type on the keyboard. Ensure that the computer is equipped with effective protection against viruses, external attacks, spam, phishing … Upgrading the operating system, software commonly used … Remember to use passwords without any similarity between them. Remember to change them regularly … Never store confidential information on the computer …
I hope that my intervention will be repeated to show how easy it can be for a malicious person to gain access to sensitive information without too much knowledge.
Here is Twitter’s Official Response:
Twitter, Even More Open Than We Wanted
About a month ago, an administrative employee here at Twitter was targeted and her personal email account was hacked. From the personal account, we believe the hacker was able to gain information which allowed access to this employee’s Google Apps account which contained Docs, Calendars, and other Google Apps Twitter relies on for sharing notes, spreadsheets, ideas, financial details and more within the company. Since then, we have performed a security audit and reminded everyone of the importance of personal security guidelines.
That begs to make you think about the balance between usability and security. The security as a whole is only as strong as its weakest link. Better check those secondary email addresses and ensure that they are just as safe and secure as your primary. Which reminds me, I need to go change some stuff… brb. 🙂
Twitter’s Internal strategy, http://www.techcrunch.com/…
The “Peanut Butter Manifesto” internal Yahoo Memo from back in the day, http://online.wsj.com/…