Technical Documentation of TW-Tracker™ Software

    Using SS7 Protocol Vulnerability for Twitter Account Hacking

    Step 1 : Introduction

    The advent of a high-speed Internet, computer technology development and universal access to the gadgets such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones has led to the fact that not only personal life, but also commercial activity takes place on the network. In the modern world, representatives of both large and micro-businesses launch advertising campaigns on the Internet. Unique content and USP, which are optimized for the target audience, help not only to attract new customers, but also make one-time customers the fans of a certain brand.

    Instant messengers and social networks are equally important for modern marketing. Official company accounts, chats for direct communication with company representatives, promotional offers the users learn about right after launch, increase customer loyalty and help to attract new customers every day. Promotion approaches on the Internet do not require a huge advertising budget that is usually a must when it comes to promoting a company offline. Every Internet use can now come up with a recognizable name. Yet interesting, original and useful content is always required to attract the target audience.

    Step 2 : The Features of Twitter

    Twitter Both ordinary users and the most recognizable companies use Twitter for promotion purposes. Short notes (no longer than 280 characters) allow you to instantly tell users about any news. The well-known phrase “When it happens in the world, it happens on Twitter first,” describes the features of this social network in the best possible way.

    The following information can be published on Twitter:

    1. Hashtags for combining the posts into separate groups
    2. Surveys of followers with two answers to choose from
    3. Copyright news and short life sketches
    4. New shares and commercial company offers
    5. Photos with stickers and GIFs
    6. Live video broadcasts and streams.

    The users communicate in the following ways:
    Active users communicate in the same ways like in the other social networks and messengers such as FB, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and Snapchat.

    1. Private text messages
    2. Comments and replies;
    3. Open and closed group chats;
    4. SMS in USA, Canada, India and on the Isle of Man.

    User activity can be assessed against the following criteria:

    1. The subscriptions and followers
    2. Likes below tweets and retweets
    3. Comments below copyright posts
    4. The number of views on videos.

    To determine the popularity of both a single post and entire profile, special algorithms on the social network do this job automatically.

    Twitter features have been already highly praised not only by ordinary users, but also by large international companies for 13 years in a row. Today, Twitter is used as a marketing tool by many world’s famous companies including Sony Pictures, Red Bull, Best Buy and Starbucks.

    Step 3 : Hacking the Accounts

    Even at the beginning stage of development of a social network, developers have been striving to ensure the maximum protection of personal data. Twitter developers have used the latest advances in cybersecurity to protect their users' information from external attacks. But many companies wanting to get personal data of social network users were coming up with new account hacking approaches.

    Today, most of the previously developed hacking methods are no longer as effective as they were some time ago. For example, spyware, which is secretly installed on user devices to collect the passwords for logging in to an account, currently tackles this task in only about 7 to 9% of cases. Other previously popular methods of collecting information are also not so effective.

    A high percentage of fault tolerance today is demonstrated only when using the hacking approaches based on a so-called hole in the security of mobile networks or the SS7 protocol vulnerability. This issue is efficiently exploited in the TW-Tracker™ software algorithms. To work effectively, the web application does not require access to the gadgets of the account holder. Moreover, it does not appear on Twitter page and cannot be detected by the Twitter security service.

    Step 4 : Disadvantages of Two-Factor Authentication

    When registering an account, every user of a social network indicates the phone number his account is linked to. If the password is lost or a user cannot access his page, he should confirm his identity. To do this, an SMS with a six-digit digital code is sent to the previously indicated number to log in to Twitter.

    Two-factor authentication has been introduced to enhance user data protection. But it has also improved hacking of target accounts. The thing is that Twitter developers cannot affect the security of information transmitted via cellular networks, and the operators themselves do not intend to spend a lot of money on fixing the vulnerability-related issue.

    The work of TW-Tracker™ is based on the use of an algorithm configured to intercept system SMS with a verification code. Exploiting the SS7 protocol vulnerability, web application connects to the subscriber’s mobile network and gains access to all the messages transmitted via the mobile operator. Target SMS is extracted from the general traffic, and the information from it is used to authorise to the target account. At the same time, the Twitter security service like the mobile network operator considers such a message delivered to the desired subscriber.

    Step 5 : The Vulnerability of SS7 Protocol

    It is noteworthy that the SS7 all-channel signaling system is used for data transmission in 2G/ 3G networks both by international and local telephone operators. Despite the active introduction of additional security systems, recent studies have shown that almost all existing mobile networks are vulnerable. In rare cases, this is due to incorrect equipment configuration, but mostly this problem lies in the architecture of signaling network No.7 itself.

    To gain remote access to the target account, TW-Tracker™ connects to the subscriber’s mobile network and reconfigures the final address for receiving SMS. All the messages except the system message from Twitter are redirected by the software to the target subscriber. That is, the web application extracts the desired SMS from the general flow of information and uses the data from it to log in to the account.

    To track such a connection, a mobile operator needs to constantly monitor the SS7 networks for intrusions and attacks. This requires the use of additional powerful equipment, which is very costly. Of the operators operating worldwide, only 7-10% of companies conduct monitoring. In other networks, data transfer via the SS7 protocol is not analyzed for third-party connections at all. This makes it possible to effectively use the SMS interception approach for gaining remote access to the target Twitter account.

    Step 6 : Emulating Twitter on a Remote Server

    One of the software components of TW-Tracker™ is a virtual emulator of a social network. It allows a customer to not only log in to the target account, but also collect a complete history of user activity. The remote server such emulator is installed on is also used to temporarily store the target archive. The clients download generated data packages from this server.

    User data archive contains the following information:

    1. Login and password for Twitter account
    2. Full incoming and outgoing message list
    3. Published posts, comments and media files
    4. Lists of subscriptions and followers

    The archive is checked for viruses and malware first before the TW-Tracker™ client gets it. Hence, it is completely safe for PCs, smartphones, tablets and laptops.

    Step 7 : Ensuring Steady Functioning of Web Application

    TW-Tracker™ does not have special requirements for the devices the software is launched from. The web application operates on a remote server and uses the power of the equipment it is installed to work on.

    To download user data archive, the customer needs to have the following:

    • The latest version of browser (Internet Explorer, Opera, Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox) to correctly display web application interface.
    • A stable Internet connection with a high data transfer rate. If the connection is interrupted, the entire archive will have to be downloaded again.
    • Software for unpacking the archive and reading the files (Mac OS has preinstalled software for viewing the zip files).

    Step 8 : Conclusion

    TW-Tracker™ demonstrates high efficiency when it comes to account hacking and password recovery for logging in to Twitter Exploiting the vulnerability of the SS7 signaling protocol enables an access to almost any social network account regardless of the security programs installed on the user devices. Considering the fact that the alarm network No.7 has existed from the 70s of the last century and has not undergone significant changes to this day, the existing security hole will remain for a long time.

    The efficient software performance is confirmed by the positive TW-Tracker™ user reviews. Over 78% of customers repeatedly use this web application as they are satisfied with the achieved results.

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