Tag: Twitter

Twitter Exposes Personal Information for 5.4 Million Accounts

Twitter accidentally exposed the personal information—including phone numbers and email addresses—for 5.4 million accounts. And someone was trying to sell this information.

In January 2022, we received a report through our bug bounty program of a vulnerability in Twitter’s systems. As a result of the vulnerability, if someone submitted an email address or phone number to Twitter’s systems, Twitter’s systems would tell the person what Twitter account the submitted email addresses or phone number was associated with, if any. This bug resulted from an update to our code in June 2021. When we learned about this, we immediately investigated and fixed it. At that time, we had no evidence to suggest someone had taken advantage of the vulnerability.

In July 2022, we learned through a press report that someone had potentially leveraged this and was offering to sell the information they had compiled. After reviewing a sample of the available data for sale, we confirmed that a bad actor had taken advantage of the issue before it was addressed.

This includes anonymous accounts.

This comment has it right:

So after forcing users to enter a phone number to continue using twitter, despite twitter having no need to know the users phone number, they then leak the phone numbers and associated accounts. Great.

But it gets worse… After being told of the leak in January, rather than disclosing the fact millions of users data had been open for anyone who looked, they quietly fixed it and hoped nobody else had found it.

It was only when the press started to notice they finally disclosed the leak.

That isn’t just one bug causing a security leak—it’s a chain of bad decisions and bad security culture, and if anything should attract government fines for lax data security, this is it.

Twitter’s blog post unhelpfully goes on to say:

If you operate a pseudonymous Twitter account, we understand the risks an incident like this can introduce and deeply regret that this happened. To keep your identity as veiled as possible, we recommend not adding a publicly known phone number or email address to your Twitter account.

Three news articles.

Twitter accidentally exposed the personal information—including phone numbers and email addresses—for 5.4 million accounts. And someone was trying to sell this information.
In January 2022, we received a report through our bug bounty program of a vulnerability in Twitter’s systems. As a result of the vulnerability, if someone submitted an email address or phone number to Twitter’s systems, Twitter’s systems would tell the person what Twitter account the submitted email addresses or phone number was associated with, if any. This bug resulted from an update to our code in June 2021. When we learned about this, we immediately investigated and fixed it. At that time, we had no evidence to suggest someone had taken advantage of the vulnerability. …Read More

How to incorporate ACM PCA into your existing Windows Active Directory Certificate Services

Using certificates to authenticate and encrypt data is vital to any enterprise security. For example, companies rely on certificates to provide TLS encryption for web applications so that client data is protected. However, not all certificates need to be issued from a publicly trusted certificate authority (CA). A privately trusted CA can be leveraged to issue certificates to help protect data in transit on resources such as load-balancers and also device authentication for endpoints and IoT devices. Many organizations already have that privately trusted CA running in their Microsoft Active Directory architecture via Active Directory Certificate Services (ADCS).

This post outlines how you can use Microsoft’s Windows 2019 ADCS to sign an AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) Private Certificate Authority (Private CA) instance, extending your existing ADCS system into your AWS environment. This will allow you to issue certificates via ACM for resources like Application Load Balancer that are trusted by your Active Directory members. The ACM PCA documentation talks about how to use an external CA to sign the ACM PCA certificate. However, it leaves the details of the external CA outside of the documentation scope.

Why use ACM PCA?

AWS Certificate Manager Private Certificate Authority (ACM Private CA or ACM PCA) is a private CA service that extends ACM certificate management capabilities to both public and private certificates. ACM PCA provides a highly available private CA service without the upfront investment and ongoing maintenance costs of operating your own private CA. ACM PCA allows developers to be more agile by providing them with APIs to create and deploy private certificates programmatically. You also have the flexibility to create private certificates for applications that require custom certificate lifetimes or resource names.

Why use ACM PCA with Windows Active Directory?

Many enterprises already use Active Directory to manage their IT resources. Whether it is on-premises or built into your AWS accounts, Active Directory’s built-in CA can be extended by ACM PCA. Using your ADCS to sign an ACM PCA means that members of your Active Directory automatically trust certificates issued by that ACM PCA. Keep in mind that these are still private certificates, and they are intended to be used just like certificates from ADCS itself. They will not be trusted by unmanaged devices, because these are not signed by a publicly trusted external CA. Therefore, systems like Mac and Linux may require that you manually deploy the ADCS certificate chain in order to trust certificates issued by your new ACM PCA.

This means it is more efficient for you to rapidly deploy certificates to your endpoint workstations for authentication. Or you can protect internal-only workloads with certificates that are constrained to your internal domain namespace. These tasks can be done conveniently through AWS APIs and the AWS SDK.

Solution overview

In the following sections, we will configure Microsoft ADCS to be able to sign a subordinate CA, deploy and sign ACM PCA, and then test the solution using a private website that is protected by a TLS certificate issued from the ACM PCA.

Configure Microsoft ADCS

Microsoft ADCS is normally deployed as part of your Windows Active Directory architecture. It can be extended to do multiple different types of certificate signing depending on your environment’s needs. Each of these different types of certificates is defined by a template that you must enable and configure. Each template contains configuration information about how Microsoft ADCS will issue the certificate type. You can copy and configure templates differently depending on your environment’s requirements. The specifics of each type of template is outside the scope of this blog post.

To configure ADCS to sign subordinate CAs

On the CA server that will be signing the private CA certificate, open the Certification Authority Microsoft Management Console (MMC).
In the left-side tree view, expand the name of the server.
Open the context (right-click) menu for Certificate Templates and choose Manage.

Figure 1: Navigating to the Manage option for the certificate templates

This opens the Certificate Template Console, which is populated with the list of optional templates.

Scroll down, open the context (right-click) menu for Subordinate Certification Authority, and choose Duplicate Template, as shown in Figure 2. This will create a duplicate of the template that you can alter for your needs, while leaving the original template unaltered for future use. Selecting Duplicate Template immediately opens the configuration for the new template.

Figure 2: Select Duplicate Template to create a copy of the Subordinate Certification Authority template

To configure and use the new template

On the new template configuration page, choose the General tab, and change the template display name to something that uniquely identifies it. The example in this post uses the name Subordinate Certification Authority – Private CA.
Select the check box for Publish certificate in Active Directory, and then choose OK. The new template appears in the list of available templates. Close the Certificate Templates Console.
Return to the Certification Authority MMC. Open the context (right-click) menu for Certificate Templates again, but this time choose New -> Certificate Template to Issue.

Figure 3: Issue the new Certificate Template you created for subordinate Cas

In the dialog box that appears, choose the new template you created in Step 1 of this procedure, and then choose OK.

That’s all that’s needed! Your CA is now ready to issue certificates for subordinate CAs in your public key infrastructure. Open a browser from either the ADCS CA server itself or through a network connection to the ADCS CA server, and use the following URL to access the certificate server’s certificate signing interface.

http://<hostname-of-your-ca-with-domain>/certsrv/certrqxt.asp

Now you can see that in the Certificate Templates list, you can choose the Subordinate Certification Authority template that you created, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: The interface to sign certificates on your CA now shows the new certificate template you created

Deploy and sign the ACM Private CA’s certificate

In this step, you will deploy the ACM PCA, which is the first step to create a subordinate CA to deploy in your AWS account. The process of deploying the ACM PCA is well documented, so this post will not go into depth about the deployment itself. Instead, this procedure focuses on the steps for taking the certificate signing request (CSR) and signing it against the ADCS, and then covers the additional steps to convert the certificates that ADCS produces into the certificate format that ACM PCA expects.

After the ACM PCA is initially deployed, it needs to have a certificate signed to authenticate it. ACM PCA offers two options for signing the new instance’s certificate. You can choose to sign either through another ACM PCA instance, or via an external CA. Since you are using ADCS in this walkthrough, you will use the process of an external CA. The ACM PCA deployment is now at a point where it needs its CSR signed by Microsoft ADCS. You should see that it is ready in the AWS Management Console for ACM PCA.

To deploy and sign the ACM PCA’s certificate

When the ACM PCA is ready, in the ACM PCA console, begin the Install subordinate CA certificate process by choosing External private CA for the CA type.

Figure 5: Options for signing the new instance’s certificate

You will then be provided the certificate signing request (CSR) for the ACM PCA. Copy and paste the CSR content into the ADCS CA signing URL you visited earlier on the CA server. Then choose Next. The next page is where you will paste in the new signed certificate and certchain in a later step.
From the ADCS CA URL, be sure that the new Subordinate Certification Authority template is selected, and then choose Submit. The new certificate will be issued to you. The ADCS issuing page provides two different formats for the certificate, either as Distinguished Encoding Rules (DER) or base64-encoded.
Copy the base64-encoded files for both the certificate and the certchain to your local computer. The certificate is already in Privacy Enhanced Mail (PEM) format, and its contents can be pasted into the ACM PCA certificate input in the console. However, you must convert the certchain into the format required by the ACM PCA by following these steps:
To convert the format of the certchain, use the openssl tool from the command line. The process of installing the openssl tool is outside the scope of this blog post. Refer to the OpenSSL site documentation for installation options for your operating system.
Use the following command to convert the certchain file from Public Key Cryptographic Standards #7 (PKCS7) to PEM.

openssl pkcs7 -print_certs -in certnew.p7b -out certchain.pem

Using a text editor, open the certchain.pem file and copy the last certificate block from the file, starting with —–BEGIN CERTIFICATE—– and ending with —–END CERTIFICATE—–. You will notice that the file begins with the signed certificate and includes subject= and issuer= statements. ACM PCA only accepts the content that is the certificate chain.

Return to the ACM PCA console page from Step 1, and paste the text the you just copied into the input area provided for the certificate chain. After this step is complete, the private CA is now signed by your corporate PKI.

Test the solution

Now that the ACM PCA is online, one of the things it can do is issue certificates via ACM that are trusted by your corporate Active Directory joined clients. These certificates can be used in services such as Application Load Balancers to provide TLS protected endpoints that are unique to your organization and trusted only by your internal clients.

From a client joined to our test Active Directory, Internet Explorer shows that it trusts the TLS certificate issued by AWS Certificate Manager and used on the Application Load Balancer for a private site.

Figure 6: Internet Explorer showing that it trusts the TLS certificate

For this demo, we created a test web server that is hosting an example webpage. The web server is behind an AWS Application Load Balancer. The TLS certificate attached to the Application Load Balancer is issued from the new ACM PCA.

Conclusion

Organizations that have Microsoft Active Directory deployed can use Active Directory’s Certificate Services to issue certificates for private resources. This blog post shows how you can extend that certificate trust to AWS Certificate Manager Private CA. This provides a way for your developers to issue private certificates automatically, which are trusted by your Active Directory domain-joined clients or clients that have the ADCS certificate chain installed.

For more information on hybrid public key infrastructure (PKI) on AWS, refer to these blog posts:

How to implement a hybrid PKI solution on AWS
Integrating Microsoft Active Directory with AWS Certificate Manager Private CA using Secardeo certEP

For more information on certificates for Mac and Linux, refer to the following resources:

Add certificates to a keychain using Keychain Access on Mac
Ubuntu – Installing a root CA certificate in the trust store
RedHat – Making CA certificates available to Linux command-line tools

 
If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, contact AWS Support.

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Geoff Sweet

Geoff has been in industry for over 20 years, and began his career in Electrical Engineering. Starting in IT during the dot-com boom, he has held a variety of diverse roles, such as systems architect, network architect, and, for the past several years, security architect. Geoff specializes in infrastructure security.

Using certificates to authenticate and encrypt data is vital to any enterprise security. For example, companies rely on certificates to provide TLS encryption for web applications so that client data is protected. However, not all certificates need to be issued from a publicly trusted certificate authority (CA). A privately trusted CA can be leveraged toRead More

AWS co-announces release of the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF) project

In today’s fast-changing security environment, security professionals must continuously monitor, detect, respond to, and mitigate new and existing security issues. To do so, security teams must be able to analyze security-relevant telemetry and log data by using multiple tools, technologies, and vendors. The complex and heterogeneous nature of this task drives up costs and may slow down detection and response times. Our mission is to innovate on behalf of our customers so they can more quickly analyze and protect their environment when the need arises.

With that goal in mind, alongside a number of partner organizations, we’re pleased to announce the release of the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF) project, which includes an open specification for the normalization of security telemetry across a wide range of security products and services, as well as open-source tools that support and accelerate the use of the OCSF schema. As a co-founder of the OCSF effort, we’ve helped create the specifications and tools that are available to all industry vendors, partners, customers, and practitioners. Joining us in this announcement is an array of key security vendors, beginning with Splunk, the co-founder with AWS of the OCSF project, and also including Broadcom, Salesforce, Rapid7, Tanium, Cloudflare, Palo Alto Networks, DTEX, CrowdStrike, IBM Security, JupiterOne, Zscaler, Sumo Logic, IronNet, Securonix, and Trend Micro. Going forward, anyone can participate in the evolution of the specification and tooling at https://github.com/ocsf.

Our customers have told us that interoperability and data normalization between security products is a challenge for them. Security teams have to correlate and unify data across multiple products from different vendors in a range of proprietary formats; that work has a growing cost associated with it. Instead of focusing primarily on detecting and responding to events, security teams spend time normalizing this data as a prerequisite to understanding and response. We believe that use of the OCSF schema will make it easier for security teams to ingest and correlate security log data from different sources, allowing for greater detection accuracy and faster response to security events. We see value in contributing our engineering efforts and also projects, tools, training, and guidelines to help standardize security telemetry across the industry. These efforts benefit our customers and the broader security community.

Although we as an industry can’t directly control the behavior of threat actors, we can improve our collective defenses by making it easier for security teams to do their jobs more efficiently. At AWS, we are excited to see the industry come together to use the OCSF project to make it easier for security professionals to focus on the things that are important to their business: identifying and responding to events, then using that data to proactively improve their security posture.

To learn more about the OCSF project, visit https://github.com/ocsf.

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.

Mark Ryland

Mark is the director of the Office of the CISO for AWS. He has over 30 years of experience in the technology industry and has served in leadership roles in cybersecurity, software engineering, distributed systems, technology standardization and public policy. Previously, he served as the Director of Solution Architecture and Professional Services for the AWS World Public Sector team.

In today’s fast-changing security environment, security professionals must continuously monitor, detect, respond to, and mitigate new and existing security issues. To do so, security teams must be able to analyze security-relevant telemetry and log data by using multiple tools, technologies, and vendors. The complex and heterogeneous nature of this task drives up costs and mayRead More

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Former Twitter Employee Found Guilty of Spying for Saudi Arabia

A former Twitter employee has been pronounced guilty for his role in digging up private information pertaining to certain Twitter users and turning over that data to Saudi Arabia.
Ahmad Abouammo, 44, was convicted by a jury after a two-week trial in San Francisco federal court, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. He faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced.
The verdict comes nearly three yearsA former Twitter employee has been pronounced guilty for his role in digging up private information pertaining to certain Twitter users and turning over that data to Saudi Arabia.
Ahmad Abouammo, 44, was convicted by a jury after a two-week trial in San Francisco federal court, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. He faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced.
The verdict comes nearly three yearsRead More

Voormalig Twitter-medewerker verstrekte privédata gebruikers aan Saudi-Arabië

Een voormalig medewerker van Twitter is in de Verenigde Staten schuldig bevonden aan het verstrekken van privégegevens van …Een voormalig medewerker van Twitter is in de Verenigde Staten schuldig bevonden aan het verstrekken van privégegevens van …Read More

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The Business of Hackers-for-Hire Threat Actors

Today’s web has made hackers’ tasks remarkably easy. For the most part, hackers don’t even have to hide in the dark recesses of the web to take advantage of people any longer; they can be found right in plain sight on social media sites or forums, professionally advertised with their websites, and may even approach you anonymously through such channels as Twitter.
Cybercrime has entered a newToday’s web has made hackers’ tasks remarkably easy. For the most part, hackers don’t even have to hide in the dark recesses of the web to take advantage of people any longer; they can be found right in plain sight on social media sites or forums, professionally advertised with their websites, and may even approach you anonymously through such channels as Twitter.
Cybercrime has entered a newRead More

Twitter data breach affects 5.4M users

Twitter has confirmed that it was breached last month via a now-patched 0-day vulnerability in Twitter’s systems, allowing an attacker to link email addresses and phone numbers to user accounts. This enabled the attacker to compile a list of 5.4 million Twitter user account profiles.

“We want to let you know about a vulnerability that allowed someone to enter a phone number or email address into the log-in flow in the attempt to learn if that information was tied to an existing Twitter account, and if so, which specific account. We take our responsibility to protect your privacy very seriously, and it is unfortunate that this happened.”

When a person submits a publicly known email address or phone number to Twitter, the system tells this person what Twitter account the email or phone number is associated with. The attacker took advantage of this and created a list containing 5.4 million Twitter users with scraped publicly available details of the accounts, including whether the account was verified.

This is especially worrying for users who want to remain anonymous on the platform. It’s a bit late now, but Twitter recommends anyone trying to stay anonymous should not tie a publicly known phone number or email to their Twitter account.

If you operate a pseudonymous Twitter account, we understand the risks an incident like this can introduce and deeply regret that this happened. To keep your identity as veiled as possible, we recommend not adding a publicly known phone number or email address to your Twitter account.

According to BleepingComputer, the attacker sold the data on twice, saying that “the data would likely be released for free in the future.”

Twitter introduced the vulnerability after updating its code in June 2021. A threat hunter reported this vulnerability in January 2022, with Twitter eventually awarding the researcher for the find as part of its bug bounty program.

While the company says no passwords were compromised, it continues to encourage users to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for their accounts, either in the form of authentication apps or hardware keys.