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Friday, June 25, 2010
Twitter to Establish Independently Audited Information Security Program After FTC's Order

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced that the Twitter reached an agreement that resolves security privacy concerns.

The announcement follows FTC's inquiry into Twitter's security practices.

The FTC?s complaint alleged that between January and May of 2009, hackers were able to gain administrative control of Twitter on two occasions. In January 2009, a hacker used an automated password-guessing tool to gain administrative control of Twitter, after submitting thousands of guesses into Twitter?s login webpage. The administrative password was a weak, lowercase, common dictionary word. Using the password, the hacker reset several passwords, and posted some of them on a website, where other people could access them. Using these fraudulently reset passwords, other intruders sent phony tweets from approximately nine user accounts. One tweet was sent from the account of then-President-elect Barack Obama, offering his more than 150,000 followers a chance to win $500 in free gasoline. At least one phony tweet was sent from the account of Fox News.

During a second security breach, in April 2009, a hacker was able to guess the administrative password of a Twitter empoyee after compromising the employee?s personal email account where two similar passwords were stored in plain text. The hacker reset at least one Twitter user?s password, and could access nonpublic user information and tweets for any Twitter users.

Within hours of the January breach, Twitter said that it had closed the security hole and had notified affected account holders. In the April incident, within less than 18 minutes of the hack Twitter had removed administrative access to the hacker and notified affected users.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced that Twitter has reached an agreement that resolves their security concerns. Twitter said that it had implemented many of the FTC's suggestions before today's announcement, adding that it remained committed to those security practices.

"Under the terms of the settlement, Twitter will be barred for 20 years from misleading consumers about the extent to which it protects the security, privacy, and confidentiality of nonpublic consumer information, including the measures it takes to prevent unauthorized access to nonpublic information and honor the privacy choices made by consumers," the FTC said in a statament. "The company also must establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program, which will be assessed by an independent auditor every other year for 10 years."

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