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Sophos Discovers Infection Method involving Twitter, Google Adsense and Yahoo

Sophos has recently unearthed an unusually new hybrid method of cyber attack against users of Twitter. The technique exploits security problems with Google's advertising service Adsense, and Yahoo.

Chester Wisniewski, Security Consultant at Sophos, states that he was drawn to a Twitter message stating that Sophos had obtained ActiveState, the anti-spam specialist. The message apparently related to an ancient tale on the Internet, as reported by Infosecurity on March 8, 2010. The security consultant wondered why an anecdote of 2003 was being fed as a Twitter message in 2010. So he read the tweet sender's online profile.

Blogged Wisniewski that after checking out the tweet sender's complete profile, he found that it was a Twitter bot. The profile had a sexy woman's photo, a name which seemed like that of a company, and Jack Nellsan's actual name. Moreover, 10,525 tweets emerged overtime, all starting from February 4. Thus, the rate of tweets sent was a sheer 376 tweets/day. More worrisome -the tweets had almost 1,300 followers, as reported by Sophos on March 6, 2010.

Luckily, there is no malware on the site associated with the web-links provided in the tweets. According to the security researchers, incase the site harbors any malicious program, this method can entail huge security risks to visitors.

Wisniewski continued that the subsequent question that intrigued him were what source supplied all the content and what reason governed the tweets' dispatch. So he studied and assessed the website's content and realized that the website was scratching Yahoo! Answers' comments and posts after which it incorporated them into WordPress. Possibly, some of the content was taken from other websites too, but most of it came from Yahoo, Wisniewski elaborated.

Apparently, the website produced traffic for Adsense. With over 1,000 followers on Adsense and some SEO tactics, the dubious site could produce immense traffic and some money.

Security experts state that although there is nothing overtly illegal about the Twitter account, it is serving like proof-of-concept of a possible hacking technique.

Wisniewski advises users to scan all material arriving through the Web and to treat all links on social-networking websites with suspicion.

Related article: Spike in Attacks Causes Early Release of Windows Patch

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