Feeds

Amateur goof makes Twitter account hijacking a snap

Just add XML

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Twitter is sitting on an amateur configuration blunder that makes it trivial for attackers to take control of user accounts, a researcher said Friday.

The error resides in an Adobe Flash object hosted on the microblogging site, said Mike Bailey, a senior security analyst with penetration testing firm Foreground Security. Contrary to Adobe recommendations, the object is free to load files hosted virtually anywhere on the net, including those containing booby-trapped javascript and action script.

"This is not Adobe's fault," Bailey told El Reg. "This is due to the fact that a lot of really bad programmers are coding Flash objects. I've seen literally hundreds of these things across the web."

The list of other offenders making the same goof reads like a who's who of search engines, software companies and news sites. Bailey shared the names with The Register on the condition they not be published. He plans to out many of the sites during a talk scheduled for next month at the Black Hat security conference in Washington DC.

Using an XML file hosted on one of his servers, Bailey was able to exploit the weakness to cause a dummy account to tweet: "@mckt_ just pwned my Twitter account. Neat." All that was required was that a link on Bailey's server be clicked while logged in to Twitter. (As usual, the NoScript addon for Firefox blocked the exploit.)

Screenshot of pwned Twitter account

Pwn me, please

But the consequences could have been more malicious.

"In reality, I have full access to everything your Twitter account has on the web," Bailey said. "I can think of a million ways to use this as an attacker."

Actions include adding or removing account followers and reading direct messages presumed private.

Reconfiguring an object not to talk to strange files generally takes a matter of minutes, maybe an hour or two at most. And yet, at time of writing, the flaw was still active more than 24 hours after Bailey reported it. That doesn't give us a warm and fuzzy feeling about the site's security. ®

Update

Around the same time this article was published, Twitter said it had disabled the misconfigured Flash object "out of an abundance of caution" while the situation is assessed.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
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
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
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
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
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.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
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.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.