Twitter API abused to match of usernames to phone numbers – Security

Nancy J. Delong

State-sponsored menace actors are thought to have exploited social community Twitter’s software programming interface (API) to match usernames to mobile phone numbers.

Twitter uncovered an unnamed actor utilizing a big community of pretend accounts for the attack on Xmas Eve final yr.

The pretend accounts have been suspended, and Twitter mentioned they had been located in a vast vary of nations.

On the other hand, Twitter’s safety staffers observed that a notably substantial quantity of API requests arrived from web protocol addresses located inside of Israel, Iran and Malaysia.

These IP addresses may have ties to point out sponsored actors, Twitter mentioned.

The social community did not say how a lot of pretend accounts had been utilized for the attack, or how a lot of customers had been targetted.

TechCrunch reported that a researcher, Ibrahim Balic, was ready to upload lists with above two billion mobile phone numbers he experienced generated, and requested randomly, to Twitter thanks to a flaw in the social network’s Android app.

Balic was ready to match 17 million mobile phone numbers to user accounts above a period of time of two months right up until Twitter blocked the API queries on December twenty.

The researcher did not inform Twitter to the vulnerability, but utilized the mobile phone numbers of substantial-profile customers these as politicians and federal government officers and established up a WhatsApp team to warn them straight.

Twitter mentioned the API endpoint makes it simpler for new account holders to obtain individuals they could possibly currently know who are on the social community.

The API queries only worked from accounts that experienced the “Enable individuals who have your mobile phone range obtain you on Twitter” enabled. Also, the accounts essential to have a mobile phone range linked with them, which Twitter utilized to require of customers when it started off as an SMS-centered company.

Which is when it is really utilized as supposed exploiting the API to match usernames to mobile phone numbers was “beyond its supposed use case” Twitter mentioned.

It is no more time achievable to query the API and have it return the username linked with a mobile phone range.

Twitter apologised for the knowledge leak but has not mentioned it will get in touch with people influenced by it.


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