Twitter, Tweets, Cyber-Criminals And You

imageI like the idea that technology makes it easier to stay “connected”, but Facebook , Twitter and the like, take that connected feeling well past my comfort zone. While I do have several Twitter accounts, those accounts are dedicated to professional tweets only.

Despite my personal reluctance to be “hard connected”, I can certainly understand the attraction of social networking – particularly for the “wired” generation. I have no problem accepting that the social relevancy of Twitter and Facebook, is substantial.

Although, I must admit, I fail to see the social relevancy of the inane “look at me” tweets, posted to Twitter by celebrities like Demi Moore, or Ashton Kutcher. I’m just not driven by the paparazzi mentality, I guess.

Despite the obvious benefits of social networking, these sites are not without risk. Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, are now a veritable snake pit of nasty socially engineered malware attacks.

The “wired” generation, who are anything but “wired”, in my view, when it comes to good security practices, have taken their inadequate security habits over to Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. As a result, social networking sites have proven to be a gold mine for cyber-criminals.

Not a day goes by, where I don’t report in my Tech Net News column, on another virus, worm, or Trojan, targeting Twitter and Facebook users. Despite constant warnings NOT to click on embedded links, or respond to social network generated emails, a considerable number of users blithely ignore this critical advice. Go figure!

On balance, social networking is a good thing – it’s opened new doorways of opportunity to stay connected. But, with those positive opportunities, comes a new set of opportunities for cyber-criminals. Now, more than ever, if you are a social network aficionado, you need to be aware of the risks.

Minimum social networking safe practices:

Don’t let your guard down – assume every link in Twitter is potentially unsafe – including links from friends.

Be particularly cautious of shortened URLs.

Don’t trust social network e-mails – including emails that are purportedly from Twitter support.

Be aware that a single wrong click can lead to a drive-by-download infection.

It should go without saying that you must keep all applications (including your operating system) patched.

Install anti-virus/anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Email, FaceBook, Interconnectivity, internet scams, Malware Protection, social networking, Social Networks, Twitter, Windows Tips and Tools

5 responses to “Twitter, Tweets, Cyber-Criminals And You

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    I guess social networking appeals to those who like to know what everyone else is doing, it really is part of human nature in a way. It makes people feel important to be part of a social network. The problem is, as you point out, that if a person is not “security conscious”, all sorts of bad crap can happen to your computer. I cancelled my Facebook account months ago, due to the security issues and the fact I don’t care what someone had for lunch or whether they are having a coffee etc. But I still get spam emails saying there is a message on Facebook for me. I know not to click that link but many don’t and that is why so many people get infected.

    I don’t know what the answer is, because as you know, you can talk til you’re blue in the face to someone about good security practices but they still go ahead and do stupid stuff anyway.


    • Hey Mal,

      I hear ya. I keep a Facebook account that’s invisible which I use only as sort of a honeypot, to keep track of the malware scene in Facebook. Despite it being invisible, I still get the “there’s a message waiting for you” emails. Phony of course.

      Yes, we’ve had the same experience in trying to get friends to change behaviors – it seems to be a lost cause.



  2. kj

    +1 on the celebrity nonsense. And, from just 2 days ago:

    You’re right (I really like the last paragraph of your post), any useful communications medium providing opportunity to scam others can and will be abused. But, my guess is that more infections happen because of blackhat seo than social networking attacks, imho.

    Anyways, in the US, Fb is used more to share photos and re-connect with friends and family, and complement usual visits and real life. Microblogging (Twitter) is much more popular in asia to keep in touch with family and friends. Seems reasonable to me, and nobody really needs to keep the guy’s posts on their wall that is always “having a cup of coffee”. 🙂

    Nice post.

    • Hey Kurt,

      I heard that you had moved over to Kaspersky – very cool. Thanks for the link – very interesting. Agree that blackhat seo is more of an issue than social networking attacks – much greater opportunity.

      Good to hear from you.


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