What Steps Can Twitter Take To Boost Its Shaky Security?

Twitter security

Last week’s spate of high-profile Twitter account hijackings has once again raised the issue of security on social media sites, particularly where it concerns well-known brands and businesses.

In case you missed it, last week saw the Twitter accounts of Burger King and Jeep compromised by unknown hackers, alongside (rather amusingly) the @Anon_CentralNF account belonging to the hacktivist collective Anonymous. For Burger King, the hacker’s mischief was particularly embarrassing for the company, swapping its logo for that of MacDonalds and tweeting that the company had been bought out by the rival fast food joint. Burger King later recovered its account, and even managed to share a joke with Jeep, tweeting: “@Jeep Glad everything is back to normal,” to which Jeep responded, “@BurgerKing Thanks BK. Let us know if you want to grab a burger and swap stories – we’ll drive.”

But jokes aside, these latest hacks once again raise questions surrounding the security of social media passwords. It seems to have become almost a game for hackers to outdo each other by hacking into as many brand-name Twitter accounts as possible, and such attacks will surely increase if action isn’t taken to improve their security.

Speaking to Kristin Feledy on today’s edition of NewsDesk, SiliconANGLE’s contributing editor John Casaretto argues that much of the responsibility for the hacks falls on Twitter’s shoulders, claiming that there are “glaring issues with its security”.

Just like Facebook and other social media sites, Twitter has shifted its focus to offering  paid advertising options for companies, taking on an important role in many brands marketing efforts. This is good for Twitter’s revenues, but the more important its platform becomes for brands’ marketing efforts, the bigger the danger that it could upset its partners by failing to provide adequate security.

Twitter’s security seems to be its biggest weakness. Corporate users – many of whom are paid advertisers – are only offered the same basic level of security (passwords) as regular everyday users like you and me, and this clearly isn’t going to be enough to stop these kinds of attacks in future.

Casaretto points out that Twitter’s security is lacking in many aspects. For example, the site is well known as a haven for malicious content:

“There’s a lot of malicious content that’s out there… (Twitter) needs to figure out some intelligent way of knowing that that message is something that really shouldn’t be spreading, and block it,” states Casaretto.

Asked what security improvements Twitter can make to prevent future attacks, Casaretto explains that its security policies have a lot of room for improvement.

“There’s a number of concrete ways to set up better intrusion detection, better analysis… What Twitter can do is take information from these attacks, learn from them, and put some better security in place.”

Curiously, if Twitter was to beef up its security, it might not be beneficial to everyone. Somewhat perversely there is some evidence to suggest that the publicity generated by getting hacked can actually be advantageous – The New York Times cites the case of Anonymou’s @YourAnonNew, which gained an extra 100,000 followers after it was taken over last week.