Ax Sharma

May 4, 2018

3 min read

Twitter Plaintext Password Bug, following GitHub’s

UPDATE: This is a developing story and more information may be added as it becomes available.

Yesterday, I wrote an article about GitHub’s security notification sent to some of its members, including me, which revealed presence of a bug storing plaintext passwords in their log files.

24 hours later, I have received a very similar message from Twitter for one of my accounts. And, it turns out Twitter was using bcrypt too, in a similar fashion as GitHub did.

It is presently unclear where exactly the bug is present? Within the logging software, bcrypt itself or …what? It is typically very unlikely for two different programmers to write the exact same piece of code, so this is very likely to be existing within a vendor product (software — open or closed source).

Here are the contents of the email:

Hi [@]HANDLE_REMOVED, 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.

Tips on Account Security Again, although we have no reason to believe password information ever left Twitter’s systems or was misused by anyone, there are a few steps you can take to help us keep your account safe:

  1. Use a strong password that you don’t reuse on other services.
  2. Enable login verification, also known as two factor authentication. This is the single best action you can take to increase your account security.
  3. Use a password manager to make sure you’re using strong, unique passwords everywhere. We are very sorry this happened. We recognize and appreciate the trust you place in us, and are committed to earning that trust every day.

Team Twitter

Looks like it’s time to start hunting GitHub’s source code — available to all:
It is possible that some vulnerable libraries may lie there. Although that is only a possibility.

© Akshay Sharma. All Rights Reserved.