The Federal Trade Commission announced that social-networking site Twitter has agreed to settle FTC charges “hat it deceived consumers and put their privacy at risk by failing to safeguard their personal information, marking the agency’s first such case against a social networking service.”
The FTC’s complaint against Twitter charges that serious lapses in the company’s data security allowed hackers to obtain unauthorized administrative control of Twitter, including access to non-public user information, tweets that consumers had designated private, and the ability to send out phony tweets from any account including those belonging to then-President-elect Barack Obama and Fox News, among others. [...]
According to the FTC’s complaint, Twitter was vulnerable to these attacks because it failed to prevent unauthorized administrative control of its system, including reasonable steps to:
- require employees to use hard-to-guess administrative passwords that they did not use for other programs, websites, or networks;
- prohibit employees from storing administrative passwords in plain text within their personal e-mail accounts;
- suspend or disable administrative passwords after a reasonable number of unsuccessful login attempts;
- provide an administrative login webpage that is made known only to authorized persons and is separate from the login page for users;
- enforce periodic changes of administrative passwords, for example, by setting them to expire every 90 days;
- restrict access to administrative controls to employees whose jobs required it; and
- impose other reasonable restrictions on administrative access, such as by restricting access to specified IP addresses.
Under the terms of the settlement, Twitter will be barred for 20 years from misleading consumers about the extent to which it protects the security, privacy, and confidentiality of nonpublic consumer information, including the measures it takes to prevent unauthorized access to nonpublic information and honor the privacy choices made by consumers. The company also must establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program, which will be assessed by an independent auditor every other year for 10 years.
More information on the case, In the Matter of Twitter, Inc., a corporation: FTC File No. 092 3093, is available at the FTC’s site.
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