Twitter is not considered to be the most secure social networking environment by experts. Recently, Chris Soghoian (a privacy researcher) reiterated the fact that Twitter has been lackadaisical in its data protection and security attempts. 2009 was the big year for Twitter, in terms of security breaches to the site. Early that year the micro-blogging network was hacked twice and user information was jeopardized. This year Twitter finally settled that issue with the Federal Trade Commission.
At the back of these developments comes the news that Twitter has acquired a mobile security start up called Whisper Systems. Well known hacker and security expert, Moxie Marlinspike, is one half of the duo behind Whisper Systems. Whisper Systems is known for its security software products for smartphones and other mobile devices. Twitter has been gung-ho about the mobile platform in the recent past. Accessing the micro-blogging site from a mobile device has become a smoother experience and the ambit of functions that can be performed from a mobile device have also been broadened. In this light Twitter acquisition of Whisper Systems seems to be a good move.
With Moxie and Stuart now part of and aiding the Twitter engineering team, the security solutions they develop can be specifically customized for Twitter. Twitter has been on the upswing over the past 12 months and 2012 will be a crucial year for them to reach the ‘next level’. There has been a steady rise in the number of Twitter users as well as in the number of tweets. Sharing photos through Twitter has also become an important activity. Twitter introduced their in-house photo-sharing service this year as well. Improving the security of the site and protecting user data has become even more important in the current situation and Twitter cannot afford another mishap similar to the 2009 incidents.
Whisper Systems products have been focused on securing the Android platform. They have developed applications for encrypting calls (RedPhone) and text messages (TextSecure) specifically or encrypt the entire data (FlashBack) or communication going in or coming out of the phone and the apps installed in it. Whisper System have mentioned on their site that their products, “as our users know it will live on”, but will be temporarily unavailable during the transition period.
How Twitter plans utilize these products or the expertise of the founding team is not clear yet. Improving data security will be a great Christmas gift for its users.
Whisper Systems co-founders are the best talents Twitter could have hoped to attract for their security team.