More Than 3,000 Apps Expose Twitter API Keys

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • Aug 04, 2022

Digital security specialists have identified more than 3,200 apps used on mobile devices that are leaking API keys related to Twitter. Some of the leaked API keys can obtain unauthorized access to users' Twitter accounts.

How is It Possible to Take Over Twitter Accounts?

According to a recent CloudSEK report, the takeover of Twitter accounts results from a leaked consumer secret and key data. Exactly 230 of the more than 3,200 apps reveal authentication credentials, setting the stage for the complete takeover of users' Twitter accounts.

How are the Compromised Twitter Accounts Used?

There is the potential for hackers to hijack Twitter accounts and use them for nefarious purposes such as making threats against public officials, corporations, governments, and other entities. There is also the possibility that the hackers will simply read through direct messages, delete tweets, eliminate users' followers, change personal profile pictures, or alter account settings.

How is the Twitter API Accessed?

The Twitter API is accessed during the generation of Access Tokens and Keys. These two bits of information function as the login credentials to access Twitter. A hacker in possession of such information has the potential to generate an entire army of bots that could disseminate information across the entirety of the social media platform.

In other words, there is the potential for the hackers who hijack Twitter accounts to dominate the narrative by posting inaccurate or sensational comments on Twitter threads or directly tweeting to a massive audience of followers.

Will the API Leak Trigger Malware?

According to CloudSEK, the tokens and API keys taken from the mobile apps can be put within programs for extensive malware campaigns conducted through verified accounts to zero in on followers.

Are the Keys Limited to the APIs of Twitter?

Digital security specialists insist that the leak of the keys does not strictly pertain to Twitter APIs. CloudSEK's team of digital security specialists insists secret keys have been recovered for the likes of HubSpot, AWS, GitHub, and other services from mobile apps that lacked the necessary protection.

How can Twitter Users and Others Defend Against the Threat?

It is possible to reduce the chances of such a covert cyber attack by reviewing the code for hard-coded API keys. Furthermore, the rotation of keys to fresh ones will also help decrease the risk of a future leak. Files with environment variables within the source code should not be included. Variables in such an environment are essentially an alternate way of referencing and concealing the aforementioned keys so they do not become ingrained within the source file.

Above all, Twitter users, everyday people who use computers, and those who make the decisions about digital security in the workplace are encouraged to enhance their digital security protections with the industry's latest shields. Fortify your digital defenses today, and you'll be able to transition to tomorrow and beyond in confidence, knowing you've done everything in your power to prevent a disruptive online attack.

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