Sadly it’s no surprise that the ‘Trending Topics’ ranking on Twitter is being used by both spammers and distributors of Malware. Or for instigating DoS attacks:
Malware is the catch-all term for software referred to in the mainstream press as ‘virusus’ – technically a virus is a type of Malware.
Luckily the methods being used aren’t particularly sophisticated yet – the scammers are creating fake Twitter accounts to post with #hashtags for trending topics and links to sites which contain the malicious software or scams.
Mashable reports that the most common links at the moment are “Twitterbest (dot) mp” and “Zasaden (dot) mp”. An added sign is that in this case, the url also tends to contain a pornographic term.
The alert from Mashable came via Panda Security who explain that the fake accounts link to a page that prompts you to ‘upgrade your Flash player’ or similar. If you agree to download software, it installs itself, and you’ll get error messages warning you of a virus and that you need to pay $89 for fake software called “Fast Anti-Virus 2009”.
The best tip is to avoid links that look suspicious, or are posted by people you don’t know. And if you do think you need to download a software update, go to the site of the company concerned, rather than installing via a random 3rd party site.
The New York Times is reporting that Twitter is being used to instigate Denial of Service attacks against key government officials in Iran;
‘But a still developing and less benign use of Twitter in Iran has been its application in denial-of-service attacks against key government officials, including those affiliated with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
… Tweets have begun circulating that allow users to target a Web site that will eventually be overcome by simply clicking on the embedded URL in the message. As soon as a user hits the page, as many as 24 frames open up simultaneously and refresh continuously, causing a DoS attack against the 24 separate Web sites.’