Natural Disasters Help Twitter Attackers
Back in June, Mashable reported on the increasingly frequent practice by spammers and attackers, of hiding behind popular Twitter trending topics that are more likely to generate click-throughs, that then trigger viruses or steal personal information.
As social media serves the purpose of the new age town crier, the global community rapidly shares pictures and headlines, communicating threats from terrorists, Amber Alerts, and helping to find people after natural disasters like the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and the threatened tsunami along the coastal cities of the Pacific.
Experts warn this is creating the perfect breeding ground for viruses and malware that invade an unsuspecting person's computer and may help them pass along more than supportive wishes. By creating tweets that use common hashtags, or mentioning people who have tweeted about a trending topic, hackers are engaging users who are sympathetic to a cause to spread the infected links through re-tweets.
One popular topic that social media users are being warned against using since the evacuations began at Hawaiian resorts following the 8.8 earthquake that happened of the South American coast early Saturday morning is #hitsunami. Security experts and corporate IT managers recommend the same online hygiene for social media follower that they have advised consumers to follow to avoid infected email:
1. Don't click on a link from someone you don't know. Social media tends to encourage URL shorteners making it even harder to discern a legitimate link. Links can activate downloads which can be infected with viruses and key tracking code.
2. People you are networked with aren't always who they say they are. Your friends may be unwitting co-conspirators with the spammer or hacker.
3. Don't allow access to your log-in information to just anyone. Check out the site thoroughly and independently before passing along your user name and password.