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Twitter docs hack exploits stupidity vuln

Google Apps and the mental midgets

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If "not failing at life" is one of your core competencies...

Even without Google Docs's innovative new feature - "run really fucking slow when I'm trying to get work done, and then stop responding to all clicks on UI widgets" - for a sensible IT manager at a high profile organization, storing all of your company secrets on somebody else's servers is probably not the best way to move yourself up the corporate ladder.

At Twitter and elsewhere in San Francisco startup land, there's a strong drive to outsource every aspect of your "business" that's not your core competency. Provided that "not failing at life" is one of your core competencies, it's likely a bad idea to keep critical company information in a place where anybody with an internet connection can take a stab at guessing the password.

When it comes to highlighting the failure of the new way of performing old tasks that's been forced on us by under-confident managers following the advice of overconfident journalists, there is no finer poster child than Twitter. The driving force behind "cloud computing" is that things need not be better so long as they are different, a dogma that Twitter has flagellated its business model with, thinking full well that media hysteria is more valuable than revenue.

Among the documents liberated from Twitter were the notes of a brainstorming session about business plans, the first of which being "verified accounts," so you can pay Twitter for a badge on your page that guarantees it's actually you trying desperately to broadcast your unexceptional life, 140 characters at a time.

The other, more predictable business plan discussed is advertising. Ah yes, the beloved "run a business on AdSense." It's all well and good before you realize that Google has your profit margin's balls in a vise. Twitter is fun and all, but the now public internal discussion about justifying the investment to the venture capitalists shows that yes, at some point in her life, every big-titted fat girl needs to be told flat out that she's nothing more than a big-titted fat girl.

Twitter is understandably butt-hurt over the release of these documents. "We are pursuing a path to address the harm caused by these actions and as noted yesterday, we've already reached out to the partners and individuals affected," founder Biz Stone wrote in a company blog post, referring to TechCrunch's release of some of the Twitter documents, as the editors play Woodward and Bernstein over a collection of bullet points and spreadsheets that would make anyone outside of the tech industry run screaming for the back button.

Yes, nebulous threats of legal action against journalists are best ways to advertise that you're really trying not to be bothered by this sort of public humiliation. But at 158 characters, Biz is woefully over budget.

Twitter is also digging its heels in, refusing to learn the lesson that's been forcibly taught by the steel toed boot of a hacker. "This attack had nothing to do with any vulnerability in Google Apps which we continue to use. This is more about Twitter being in enough of a spotlight that folks who work here can become targets."

I wonder if there are private discussions about the seriousness of this breach and honest considerations of making internal documents actually internal. Given Twitter's track record, we should all know in about six months. ®

Ted Dziuba is a co-founder at Milo.com You can read his regular Reg column, Fail and You, every other Monday.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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