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Torrent site vulnerability trips up Twitter users, everyone urged to change passwordsOn Tuesday night, after a long day of dealing with recent phishing attacks, Twitter posted a long message on the Twitter Status Blog explaining a possible source of the attacks and detailing how users can defend themselves against such vulnerabilities.
The idea is simple.
Somebody created some torrent sites a few years ago that require a login and password which, after the original creator had sold the sites, were still accessible via security exploits. Following the reasonable belief that people use the same account name and passwords for numerous sites, this person was then able to gain access to users' Twitter accounts by using the logins and passwords stolen from the torrent sites' backdoors.
As always, Twitter urged its users to change their passwords in order to ensure security of their accounts. But something else about this whole situation apparently bothered Twitter a lot:
"The takeaway from this is that people are continuing to use the same email address and password (or a variant) on multiple sites."
"We strongly suggest that you use different passwords for each service you sign up for."
Now I don't know about you, but I log on to at least ten services every single day: GMail, Facebook, Last.fm, Flickr, Twitter, Vator.tv, my college campus network, and multiple blogs. Those are just the essentials. While I certainly take advantage of a few different passwords, Twitter is living in a dream world if it thinks people are about take up its advice to remember a different password for every single new service. I have trouble enough already with my few accounts.
Maybe the solution to all this is having one secure system used to access every site, like Facebook Connect. Or, perhaps even better, something that makes passwords obsolete.
Until then, though, watch out for those torrent sites with required login.
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What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests.
Where did the idea for Twitter come from?
Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.
How is Twitter built?
Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes.
We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.
How do you make money from Twitter?
There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.
In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet.
At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.
Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.
What's next for Twitter?
We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users.
We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.