July 9, 2018

Timehop breach draws cybersecurity industry criticism as 21 million affected

By Lucy Ingham

Social media app Timehop has drawn criticism from the security industry following a major breach. The Timehop breach has impacted all 21 million of its users.

Timehop is a tool that allows users to view and repost old social media posts from previous years, which has become very popular on Facebook and Twitter.

While not all users have been equally impacted, Timehop has said that the attacker has gained details including usernames, emails, telephones and access keys.

The company has drawn criticism for the attack, which some in the cybersecurity industry have said was the result of poor security.

“It’s ironic that a service which brings back memories from the past was also breached by an attack vector which is one of the oldest: taking over an administrator account,” said Ben Herzberg, director of threat research at Imperva.

“There are many solutions to this problem (like restricting access to the interface to certain IP addresses and two-factor authentication), yet they’re not the first (nor the last) company to be breached due to this.”

Timehop breach: an example of third-party dangers

The Timehop breach has been highlighted as an example of the dangers of insecure third-party applications.

“While most of the main social media platforms have robust security in place, many third parties which develop apps or features on top of these don’t always have the same level of security built into their offering,” said Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault.

“Users should always be careful as to which third parties they grant access to and revoke access once no longer needed.”

What can users affected by the Timehop breach do to protect themselves?

For the 21 million users affected by the Timehop breach, the advice is familiar: change your passwords.

“With a breach on this scale, it would always be a good idea to change your Timehop password as well as all the passwords used to grant Timehop access to your other social media accounts,” advised Jake Moore, Security Specialist at ESET.

“Timehop typically pulls data from Facebook and Twitter to read old posts and view photos, therefore we would advise people to de-authorise their accounts and change all associated passwords before reauthorising granted access.”

Users should also stay on the lookout for phishing attacks that take advantage of the incident.

“After any large scale incident like this, fraudsters from around the world will inevitably jump at the chance to try and catch a few unsuspecting people out,” added Moore.

“If you receive any emails purporting to be from Timehop or such like mentioning it asking for any personal information or to click on unverified links, discard them.”

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