Twitter’s numbers are astounding. In the physical world, when communities become larger and more densely populated, crime rises. The same applies to online communities.
CNET broke down Twitter’s recent blog post, which celebrates their significant numbers: “It took three years, two months, and one day for Twitter to hit 1 billion tweets; now, a billion tweets are posted in the course of a week. An average of 460,000 new accounts were created per day over the past month, and an average of 140 million tweets were posted per day. Twitter now has 400 employees, 50 of whom have been hired since January.”
Spammers, scammers, and thieves are paying attention.
Techland reports, “At least 10,000 Twitter users fell for a scam that spread like wildfire across the social networking site early today. Quick action by link shortening service bit.ly – as well as thousands of people retweeting warnings – brought the scam attack under control in a few hours.”
Common Twitter scams include:
Hijacked Accounts: Numerous Twitter accounts have been hacked, including those of President Obama and, recently, Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher’s account was most likely “Firesheeped,” which can occur when a wireless device is used to access an unsecured site.
Social Media Identity Theft: Hundreds of imposter accounts are set up every day. Sarah Palin, St. Louis Cardinals coach Tony LaRussa, Kanye West, The Huffington Post, and many others have been impersonated by fake Twitter accounts opened in their names.
Worms: Twitter has been plagued by worms, which spread messages encouraging users to click malicious links. When one user clicks, his account is infected and used to further spread the message. Soon his followers and then their followers are all infected.
Phishing: Hacked Twitter accounts are used to send phishing messages, which instruct users to click links that point to spoofed sites, where users will be prompted to enter login credentials, putting themselves at risk of identity theft.
Social media sites could go a long way in protecting their users by incorporating device reputation management. Rather than accepting information provided by an anonymous user, device reputation allows social sites to leverage knowledge about a device’s history—which could include spam, phishing attempts, predatory behavior, profile misrepresentation and even credit card fraud. Device reputation alerts businesses to suspicious behavior exhibited while bad actors are on their websites, uncovers the device’s true location, and exposes hidden relationships to other high-risk accounts and devices.