Tech

Twitter’s SMS two-factor authentication is melting


Two weeks later of the extreme chaos in Twitter, users are joining and leaving the site in bulk. More quietly, many people are likely scrutinizing their accounts, checking their privacy settings, and downloading their data. But some users are reporting problems when they try to generate two-factor authentication codes via SMS: Messages don’t arrive or messages are delayed by hours.

A malfunctioning SMS two-factor code means that users can have their accounts locked and lose control of them. They may also find themselves unable to change their privacy settings or download their data using Twitter. Access feature. The situation also provides an early hint that troubles in Twitter’s infrastructure are emerging.

Not all users have problems receiving SMS authentication codes, and those who rely on authenticator apps or physical auth tokens to secure their Twitter accounts may have no reason to check. this mechanism. But users have been self-reporting issues on Twitter since the weekend, and WIRED has confirmed that on at least some accounts, validation texts are hours behind or not arriving at all. The crisis came less than two weeks after Twitter lay off about half of its workers, roughly 3,700 people. Since then, engineers, operations specialists, IT staff, and security teams have been trying to adapt Twitter’s services and build new features to the agenda of new owner Elon Musk.

Reports indicate that the company may have laid off too many employees too quickly and that the company has tried to re-hire some workers. Meanwhile, Musk has said publicly that he is directing employees to disable certain parts of the platform. “Part of today will be turning off bloatware ‘microservices’,” he tweeted this morning. “Twitter actually needs 20 percent less to work!”

Twitter’s communications division, where is said to be defunct, did not return WIRED’s request for comment regarding issues with SMS two-factor authentication codes. Musk did not answer a tweet request comment.

“Temporarily discontinuing multi-factor authentication could have the effect of locking people out of their accounts. But what’s even more worrisome is that it will encourage users to disable multi-factor authentication entirely, which makes them less secure,” said Kenneth White, co-director of the Open Cryptocurrency Audit Project. and a longtime security engineer said. “It’s hard to say exactly what’s causing the problem so many people are reporting, but it could certainly be the result of large-scale changes to web services that were announced.”

SMS messages are not the safest way to receive authentication codes, but many people rely on this mechanism and security researchers agree that it is better than nothing. As a result, even intermittent or infrequent power outages present problems for users and can put them at risk.

Twitter’s system of sending SMS verification codes has had several stability issues over the years. For example, in August 2020, Twitter Support tweeted, “We are reviewing the account verification code that was not sent via SMS or phone call. Sorry for the inconvenience, and we’ll keep you updated as we continue our work on fixing this issue.” Three days later, the company more, “We still have a lot of work to do with fixing the verification code submission, but we are making progress. We apologize for the disappointment this has caused and appreciate your patience while we continue to work through this issue. We hope it will be arranged soon for those of you who did not receive the code.”

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