Thousands of Twitter users hit by classic Facebook scam

Filed Under: Facebook, Rogue applications, Social networks, Spam, Twitter

Twitter users have once again found themselves the target of rogue applications this weekend, in a similar fashion to the problem which has been plaguing Facebook users for over a year.

Over 9,000 Twitter users clicked on links posted by fellow Twitter users, claiming to be about a girl who killed herself after her dad posted a message online:

OMG: This GIRL KILLED HERSELF after her father posted THIS on her wall

OMG: This GIRL KILLED HERSELF after her father posted THIS on her wall: [LINK]

Find the wording familiar? Well, you might very well do if you're a Facebook user, as the "girl kills herself after her father" meme has become one of the most popular methods by which scammers on the social network have tricked people into clicking on their links in the last year.

And now, it's made an unwelcome appearance on Twitter too. Clicking on the link would take you to a rogue app which would attempt to connect with your Twitter account.

Of course, if you were desperate to read about the girl who allegedly killed herself you might think nothing of granting permission to an app written by a complete stranger to post messages to your wall. And so, the links begin to spread virally - which suits the scammers just fine as they can either use their new access to post spam messages via your account or generate income from online surveys.

This appears to be a developing trend on Twitter. Earlier this month Twitter was hit by rogue apps which claimed users had been on Twitter for 11.6 hours or had discovered who their top 10 profile stalkers were.

Now do you understand why we were so upset about how people signed up for Connect.me last week without even thinking about what they might be doing?

In response to the latest attack on Twitter users, Del Harvey, who heads up Twitter's Trust & Safety department, tweeted a warning to users reminding them to take care about which applications they authorised to access their accounts.

In addition, it appears that bit.ly has shut down the links. But, of course, the person behind them (who goes by the bit.ly username of "ecigarmy") might create more.

Certainly earlier today ecigarmy was hard at work, tricking almost 35,000 people into clicking on another scam attack on Twitter:

I am 64% addicted to Twitter, find out how addicted you are here

I am 64% addicted to Twitter, find out how addicted you are here: [LINK]

where the percentage number could be different each time.

We all know that breaking news can spread as fast as a petrol fire on Twitter. That's one of its great strengths. But we all have to work hard and act sensibly to avoid dangerous links also worming their way rapidly across the micro-blogging network.

If you're on Twitter and want to learn more about threats, be sure to follow Naked Security's team of writers. Meanwhile, Facebook users would be wise to join the Sophos Facebook page, where we give early warning about new threats.

, , ,

You might like

2 Responses to Thousands of Twitter users hit by classic Facebook scam

  1. I always did think the url shortening sites were a great idea, but they also play a significant role in scams like these. They make me think twice before clicking any short urls, even when they are legitimate redirects.

  2. Kas · 1137 days ago

    I use a firefox addon to let me know what the long links are of these shortened ones simply by mousing over them. Keeps me safe as I saw short url's as dangerous awhile ago. Spammers and scammers love any link that hides their true destination and short url's make it less work for them!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.