Feeds

Twitter hardens two-factor authentication with app-based secure logins

SMS, phone number no longer needed

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Barely two months after rolling out two-factor authentication, Twitter has beefed up its login procedures yet again, both to improve security and to make two-factor available to more Twitter users worldwide.

Twitter launched two-factor authentication in late May with a system based on SMS messaging. While that was good enough for many users, however, it did present some problems.

For one thing, verification via SMS is only available via supported mobile carriers, which isn't all of them. For another, using SMS as a security mechanism relies on the SMS delivery channel being secure, and some carriers' text messaging systems might not be.

On Tuesday, Twitter rolled out an update to its two-factor authentication scheme that can optionally make use of the Twitter mobile app for Android and iOS, rather than SMS.

"Simply tap a button on your phone, and you're good to go," Twitter security engineer Alex Smolen wrote in a blog post. "This means you don't have to wait for a text message and then type in the code each time you sign in on twitter.com."

The app approach offers other advantages, as well. Because it's based on public-key cryptography, it's inherently more secure than the SMS approach. The mobile app generates a public/private key pair and Twitter only stores the public key, while the private key never leaves the user's phone. As a result, an attacker won't be able to fake a login even if Twitter's authentication server is compromised.

When the app receives a login verification request, it will also tell you details about the browser that is being used to make the login attempt, including its approximate location – so if you see any suspicious logins from Iran, you'll know not to approve them.

The app also generates a "backup code" during the setup process, which it advises you to write down and keep in a safe place. In the event you ever lose your phone, you can use the backup code to login to Twitter, un-enroll your old phone from login verification, and enroll your new one.

As before, login verification is optional and can be enabled from any Twitter account's Settings panel. To take advantage of the new, app-based authentication process, you'll need to update to version 5.9 of the Twitter app for iOS or version 4.1.4 of Twitter for Android, both of which shipped on Tuesday. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Shellshock over SMTP attacks mean you can now ignore your email
'But boss, the Internet Storm Centre says it's dangerous for me to reply to you'
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.