Malware hijacks Twitter accounts to send dangerous links

Trusteer has found malicious software that leverages Twitter to infect more computers

Twitter users in the Netherlands are being targeted by a piece of malware that hijacks their accounts, according to security vendor Trusteer.

The software vulnerability lies on the client computers of people using Twitter and not Twitter itself. Once a computer is infected, the malware injects JavaScript into the victim's browser when they're on their Twitter account page. The malware steals the user's authentication token, which allows it to make calls to Twitter's API (application programming interface) and post tweets.

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Dana Tamir, Trusteer's director of product marketing, wrote that the malware had been used in the past to steal user credentials for financial accounts but has been modified for Twitter.

The malware tweets messages in Dutch such as "Our new King William will earn even more than Beatrix. Check his salary" and "Beyonce falls during the Super Bowl concert, very funny!!!!" along with links.

Although Trusteer said it did not follow the links, it is suspected the links are malicious and aimed at infecting new users. The links are shortened URLs, making it impossible to tell where the links lead.

Hackers will send malicious links to potential victims that, if followed, will land them on a website that tries to attack the person's Web browser, looking for vulnerabilities in which to exploit and deliver malware.

"This attack is particularly difficult to defend against because it uses a new sophisticated approach to spear-phishing," Tamir wrote. "Twitter users follow accounts that they trust. Because the malware creates malicious tweets and sends them through a compromised account of a trusted person or organization being followed, the tweets seem to be genuine."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk.

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