Social-media sites becoming channels for botnets

The cooler something is, the quicker the bad guys will adapt it to their use. Case in point: Twitter, which seems to be getting more than its share of bad news lately.

The latest wrinkle is the use of malicious tweets as a command and control channel for an apparent botnet. Compromised computers were signed up as followers of the “Upd4t3” Twitter account and were receiving update commands through the account’s Really Simple Syndication feed. According to Symantec’s security blog, the malware being distributed is Downloader.Sninfs. It downloads a password stealer known as Infostrealer.Bancos, which emulates some Brazilian banks on phishing sites to steal account information. Twitter has shut down the offending account.

“This is an interesting and new medium for malware authors to push out information,” Symantec said. “Although has been used in this instance, there are plenty of alternative sites on the Internet that could also be used.”

The best defense is to keep your security software updated and use common sense: Don’t accept "friend" or "follow" requests from people you don’t know, and don’t click on links from untrusted sources, Symantec said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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