Twitter and Facebook developers found that a couple of software development kits (SDKs) from third-party sources accessed private user data outside of their purview, without the user’s knowledge and consent.
Twitter was the first to inform users of a malicious SDK from oneAudience, explaining that its developers could exploit a vulnerability in the mobile ecosystem to access personal data such as emails, usernames and last Tweets.
The role of SDKs is to gather usage data, which is then used by data monetization companies for advertisement purposes. In fact, developers are paid to implement such SDKs into their apps.
“While we have no evidence to suggest that this was used to take control of a Twitter account, it is possible that a person could do so,” said Twitter in an official communique. “We have evidence that this SDK was used to access people’s personal data for at least some Twitter account holders using Android, however, we have no evidence that the iOS version of this malicious SDK targeted people who use Twitter for iOS.”
The issue arose when some apps using this SDK were authorized to access Twitter accounts. Unfortunately, users can do nothing about it, besides checking which apps have permission to access Twitter.
According to a CNBC report, Facebook had the same issue with OneAudience and a second company, by the name of Mobiburn. Facebook sent a cease and desist letter to both companies, and removed all apps using these SDKs from their platform.
Both companies said the data collected by their SDKs was not used for nefarious purposes and wasn’t sold or used in any way.