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 Monday, June 08, 2009
Twitter Trends exploited to promote scareware

Hackers are manipulating a hot topics feature of Twitter to promote malware-infected websites. The gaming of the Twitter Trends feature recalls the manipulation of Google search results using black-hat search engine optimisation techniques.

In the case of the Twitter attack, cyber-criminals created hundreds of accounts and posted multiple messages under the topic "PhishTube Broadcast", a reference to the US rock band Phish, but containing links to a spoof pornographic Web page. The topic appeared in the Trending Topic list, achieving greater visibility and therefore more user traffic to comments made under that category.

Users intrigued enough to visit the supposed websites promoted through the Twitter social-engineering ruse risk exposure to the PrivacyCenter fake antivirus (scareware) package. The software runs a spoof scan of system before falsely informing users that their computers are infected with malware, whether they are or not, in order to induce frightened users into buying software of little or not utility.