Facebook, Twitter fail latest security assessment

Powered by SC Magazine
 

Lack of SSL authentication a major drawback.

A nonprofit security think-tank's 'report card' has failed Facebook and Twitter for neglecting to implement safeguards that are available on other popular online services.

Digital Society recently doled out grades for the security of a number of widely-used online services, including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and Hotmail.

The services were graded on whether they use full Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protection and if they are susceptible to attacks that can expose user's credentials or authentication cookies.
Out of the services graded, Facebook and Twitter came out on the bottom, both receiving the lowest grade of 'F'.

According to Digital Society, the most pressing security problem affecting the social networking sites is that they do not use SSL authentication, a means of verifying the site's identity to users through visual queues such as a padlock or 'HTTPS' in the website URL, George Ou, policy director at Digital Society, told SCMagazineUS.com.

“They are not verifying to users who they are before they ask for a username and password,” Ou said.

As a result, attackers can create a fake Facebook or Twitter login page that is indistinguishable from the real thing and trick users into handing over their credentials, he added.

Moreover, both Facebook and Twitter do not use end-to-end encryption to safeguard users' sessions, leaving them vulnerable to an attack known as 'HTTP session hijacking', in which an attacker steals a user's cookie to take over the account, Ou said.

The danger of unencrypted websites garnered widespread attention late last month with the release of a free tool called Firesheep. The Firefox web browser plug-in lets anyone scan open Wi-Fi networks and hijack accounts belonging to sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Since its release, the extension has been downloaded more than 600,000 times.

A Facebook spokesman told SCMagazineUS.com in an email that the site recently has implemented a number of safeguards and is working to further improve security.

“We appreciate Digital Society raising awareness about the dangers of surfing over unsecured networks, and we have been making progress testing SSL access across Facebook and hope to provide it as an option in the coming months,” a company spokesman said. “However, the report fails to include many important security metrics that place Facebook as a leader in this industry and doesn't even mention many of the unique security features we offer to make accounts more secure.”

Those security features include login notification, remote session management, one-time passwords, and internal spam prevention systems, the spokesman said.

A Twitter spokeswoman said the microblogging service takes security seriously but does not have a comment on Digital Society's report card. 

Meanwhile, in Digital Society's assessment, Gmail received an 'A' grade for implementing safeguards, such as SSL authentication and browsing.

Hotmail, on the other hand, received 'D-' grade. Security issues on the webmail service could allow an attacker to view every message a user has received and sent, or send messages on behalf of a user, Ou said.

Microsoft, however, plans to upgrade the security of Hotmail by enabling SSL browsing, he said.

See original article on scmagazineus.com

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition


 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  20%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1498

Vote