Timehop, a mobile app that surfaces old social media posts from the same day but from previous years, has announced a security breach affecting its entire userbase of over 21 million users. Not all users were affected to the same extent. The company said a hacker gained access to its infrastructure and stole details on its users that included usernames, emails, telephone numbers, and access keys. IT security experts commented below.

Ben Herzberg, Director of Threat Research at Imperva:

“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. There are many solutions to this problem (Like restricting access to the interface to certain IP addresses and 2 factor authentication), yet they’re not the first (nor the last) company to be breached due to this.

My hopes are that with the new privacy regulations, such as GDPR, companies will take better care of PII (Personal Identifiable Information), and such incidents will be less common.”

Javvad Malik, Security Advocate at AlienVault:

Javvad Malik“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. So users should always be careful as to which third parties they grant access to and revoke access once no longer needed.

It appears as if Timehop was breached by someone gaining access to the admin account. It is vitally important for companies, particularly ones with cloud services to protect their admin accounts with strong passwords and enabling multi-factor authentication where possible. Not doing so can literally give away the keys to the kingdom.

Coupled with this, it is critical to have strong monitoring and threat detection controls in place so that any breaches or attempted breaches can be spotted quickly and the appropriate and timely response taken.”

Jake Moore, Security Specialist at ESET:

“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. 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.

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. 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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