Twitter has begun to look out for additional options to secure its users’ authentication after at least 250,000 account passwords were compromised in a hacking fiasco that took place last week. In an effort to strengthen its security measures, Twitter is looking to correct its breached security and has advertised that it is seeking to employ software engineers to develop “user-facing security features, such as multifactor authentication and fraudulent login detection.”
The Twitter job hiring requires knowledge on fraudulent login detection techniques. However, Twitter has not clarified as to whether or not the hiring has been planned to implement two-factor authentication. Twitter currently uses OAuth as its authentication protocol via mobile apps Web services, which prevents hackers from recording and replaying session information trying to hijack open user sessions.
For direct user authentication, Twitter uses secure socket layer (SSL) encryption to pass user credentials from Web browsers and other Twitter clients. These measures protect users’ passwords and sessions from being directly intercepted and taken over in most cases. But they don’t guard against “man-in-the-middle” attacks, where a malicious access point or firewall using an SSL proxy intercepts encrypted Web traffic.
Hackers have caught hold of users’ Twitter credentials in the past through malicious webpages using cross-site scripting, e-mail “phishing” attacks, and other means. Last August, for example, the Reuters news service had its Twitter feed taken over by pro-Syrian hackers who pulled the Twitter password from the service’s blogging platform.
Two-factor authentication schemes are helpful for preventing password hacking through many of these means, and these can prevent account hacks in cases where passwords themselves are compromised—like the case of last week’s Twitter breach. Currently, Google and Microsoft have implemented forms of two-factor authentication for their services, using text messages to a “trusted” mobile device to confirm logins from previously unknown devices or IP addresses.