Twitter tightens security against NSA snooping

The company calls on others to embrace 'perfect forward secrecy'

Twitter has implemented new security measures that should make it much more difficult for anyone to eavesdrop on communications between its servers and users, and is calling on other Internet companies to follow its lead.

The company has implemented "perfect forward secrecy" on its Web and mobile platforms, it said Friday. The technology should make it impossible for an organization to eavesdrop on encrypted traffic today and decrypt it at some point in the future.

At present, the encryption between a user and the server is based around a secret key held on the server. The data exchange cannot be read but it can be recorded in its encrypted form. Because of the way the encryption works, it's possible to decrypt the data at some point in the future should the server's secret key ever be obtained.

With perfect forward secrecy, the data encryption is based on two short-lived keys that cannot be later recovered even with the knowledge of the server key, so the data remains secure.

It's an important principle, because while encryption traffic is difficult to break with current computer technology, innovations in computing hardware and systems might make it easier to break in the future. Perfect forward secrecy should ensure data remains secure no matter the advances in computer technology.

Twitter didn't provide a reason for the switch, but it did link to a blog post by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that suggested the method be used as a way to stop the National Security Agency (NSA) or another party from snooping on Internet communications.

Of course, much of what is sent over Twitter is destined to be public anyway, but the service does support a direct messaging system between two clients that is hidden from public view.

In a blog post introducing the new security, the company said it believes it "should be the new normal for web service owners."

"If you are a webmaster, we encourage you to implement HTTPS for your site and make it the default. If you already offer HTTPS, ensure your implementation is hardened with HTTP Strict Transport Security, secure cookies, certificate pinning, and Forward Secrecy. The security gains have never been more important to implement."

It's important to note that while the technology safeguards against eavesdropping, it won't affect the ability of law enforcement agencies to obtain information from Twitter through conventional legal channels.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitysocial mediacybercrimeinternetlegaltwittersocial networkingencryptiononline safetyInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?