Twitter is advising all 330 million users to change their account passwords after a bug logged them in plain text. Although Twitter doesn’t believe that anyone found the passwords or has misused them in any way, the company is still recommending that users change their passwords out of an “abundance of caution.”
According to Twitter’s blog post, the breach occurred because of a flaw in Twitter’s security system. The company is supposed to only store passwords in an encrypted format, known as a “has.” Unfortunately, plaintext passwords were being saved to an internal log file in plain text, raising the possibility that someone could potentially have seen and copied users’ passwords.
If Twitter’s internal investigation is correct, the log file with the plaintext passwords was never exposed externally, which means that the possibility that the file was accessed by malicious actors is low. In this instance, it seems that Twitter discovered the security vulnerability on its own, before anyone had a chance to take advantage.
As ever, it’s a good idea to not only change your password, but also to enable two-factor authentication on your account. Having a second factor of authentication, such as an SMS message with a login code or an Authenticator app, means that just your username and password isn’t enough to log into your account, which makes this kind of vulnerability far less scary.
Twitter’s full explanation for the bug can be found below:
When you set a password for your Twitter account, we use technology that masks it so no one at the company can see it. We recently identified a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We have fixed the bug, and our investigation shows no indication of breach or misuse by anyone.
Out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password. You can change your Twitter password anytime by going to the password settings page.
About The Bug
We mask passwords through a process called hashing using a function known as bcrypt, which replaces the actual password with a random set of numbers and letters that are stored in Twitter’s system. This allows our systems to validate your account credentials without revealing your password. This is an industry standard.
Due to a bug, passwords were written to an internal log before completing the hashing process. We found this error ourselves, removed the passwords, and are implementing plans to prevent this bug from happening again.