Security Experts:

Twitter Fixes Vulnerability Potentially Impacting Company's Ad Revenue

A researcher has uncovered a vulnerability on one of Twitter's subdomains that could have been exploited to delete all the payment cards used by customers to pay for advertisements.

Companies and individuals that want to run ad campaigns on Twitter's platform are required to add a payment card to their account. Egyptian security researcher Ahmed Aboul-Ela discovered multiple Insecure Direct Object Reference flaws that could have been leveraged by an attacker to delete the cards associated with Twitter Ads.

Aboul-Ela identified the first vulnerability after analyzing the POST request sent to the server when the "Delete this card" button is clicked. The request contained the parameters "account," the ID of the Twitter account, and " id," a 6-digit number associated with the customer's credit card. By changing the value of these parameters to one of a different account he owns, the researcher managed to delete the card.

While this method required the attacker to know the targeted user's Twitter account ID, the second vulnerability found by the Egyptian expert is far easier to exploit.

If users add invalid credit cards to their Twitter Ads accounts, they're presented with two options: try to add the card again, or dismiss it. Dismissing a card is the same as deleting it, and the researcher soon realized that he could perform this action on valid cards already added to accounts. After analyzing the POST request, Aboul-Ela found that unlike the previous attack method, this one only required the attacker to know the 6-digit ID associated with the card.

"Imagine a blackhat hacker that could write a simple Python code and use a simple for loop on 6 numbers he could delete all credit cards from all Twitter accounts which will result in halting all the Twitter ads campaigns and incur big financial loss for Twitter," the researcher explained in a blog post.

Aboul-Ela said Twitter addressed the vulnerabilities within two days after being notified. The company rewarded him with a $2,800 bounty.

Twitter has been running a bug bounty program on the HackerOne platform for the past three months, but at the beginning of September, the company decided to start handing out monetary rewards for researchers who contribute to making the service more secure. The minimum reward is $140, but a maximum limit has not been set. The bounty paid by Twitter to Aboul-Ela is the largest so far.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.