Feeds

Twitter's underwear exposed after Google Apps hack

Biz Stone's briefs

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

An unidentified hacker has exposed confidential corporate and personal information belonging to microblogging site Twitter and its employees after breaching electronic accounts belonging to several people close to the company.

The episode is the latest reminder that the convenience of cloud-based services that store spreadsheets and other information online cut both ways. While they make it easy to access personal notes from anywhere in the world, they also open up the information to theft - especially when the owners are highly public individuals who didn't take due care to safeguard the data in the first place.

The breach occurred "about a month ago," when an email account belonging to a Twitter admin was compromised. From there, the employee's Google Docs, Calendars, and other Google Apps were also accessed, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote here. Around the same time, a personal email account belonging to the wife of Twitter Chief Executive Evan Williams was also compromised, exposing a variety of accounts belonging to the CEO, including Amazon and PayPal.

The breach is an embarrassment for Twitter for a couple of reasons. First, it's the most recent example of employees at the highly visible company failing to adequately protect their accounts. (In January, accounts belonging to Britney Spears and other celebrities were compromised, and as Wired.com later reported, the weak link in the chain was an admin password set to "happiness"). What's more, the breach is airing documents the privately held company surely prefers to keep private.

For instance, by the end of 2013, the company expects to have 1 billion users and revenue of $1.54bn, according to documents posted on TechCrunch. They also claim that Twitter wasn't expected to generate revenue until the third quarter of 2009 (now, in other words), when the company would pull in $400,000. Sales are expected to jump to $4m in the fourth quarter, according to the documents.

Twitter's Stone compared the breach to having one's underwear drawer publicly rifled through: "Embarrassing, but no one's really going to be surprised about what's in there."

That's apt enough, but we think the episode better serves as a reminder of the difficulty of keeping secrets in a Web 2.0 world, at least when you're a target as highly desirable as Twitter. Combine it with a demonstrated lack of best password practices among Twitter employees, and such breaches are inevitable. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.