Twitter, Facebook turn on session encryption

Don’t end up hacked like Ashton Kutcher, says Sophos

Extra security for social networking sites have kicked in this week to combat the rise of attacks targeting user profiles.

Session encryption was released in the wake of scams such as Who Viewed Your Profile, which hit Australian Twitter users earlier this month.

The scam involved the use of a third-party applications, where once allowed access to users' profiles, it sent out posts on the user's Twitter account which read `I just viewed my top 10 stalkers’ and included a shortened website link.

Sophos Asia Pacific head of technology, Paul Ducklin, said in a statement that the site, along with Facebook, now has an HTTPS option. This means that all tweets and direct messages will be encrypted automatically.

“If you don't use HTTPS, imposters who listen into your Twitter traffic can obtain what's called your session key," he said.

"This is a secret code which identifies you for as long as you're logged in. And that means they can impersonate you, posting any old tweets on behalf of your or your company.

“To enable this new Twitter option, go to your settings page. At the bottom is the new always use HTTPS option. Turn it on and click save, and then save changes,” he said.

According to Sophos, the breach is known as sidejacking because it will let someone else hijack a user’s Twitter session while sitting near them.

"Every time you use unencrypted Wi-Fi, for example in an airport lounge, any one of the other users sitting round about could be sidejacking you,” said Ducklin

He said the most famous example was US actor, Ashton Kutcher, who was sidejacked this month during a conference where free Wi-Fi was in use.

The hacker posted messages posted to Kutcher's aplusk account, which were shared with his more than 6.4 million Twitter followers that said `Ashton, you've been Punk'd. This account is not secure. Dude, where's my SSL?’

The Facebook encryption change can be made through the account security page and selection of the secure browsing button.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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