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Tweets Link to Identity Theft


“Misty Buttons” just started following me on Twitter. She’s curvaceous, bodacious and isn’t getting her needs met. Apparently, she needs me to meet those needs. It is, of course, a tempting offer that someone, somewhere may accept. But I’m going to pass.

Twitter porn and cybercrime are one and the same. Criminal hackers use porn to lure unsuspecting Twitter users into their lairs, where they distribute malicious software and solicit credit card data. In some cases, their victims may deserve to be scammed. Clicking on the links that these ne’er-do-wells post on their Twitter feeds can have a devastating effect on your PC and your bank account.

Internet security software provider McAfee reported a 500% increase in malware in 2008. That’s more than the past five years combined. And the FBI reported a 33% increase in Internet crime last year. According to a survey of 1000 firms, companies coping with data breaches lost an average of $4.6 million in intellectual property. This is all due to insufficient hardware, outdated software and the various ruses, such as those perpetrated by Misty Buttons, that trick technology users into opening a door to criminals.

But it isn’t just obvious Twitter porn that you need to watch out for. It’s also seemingly legitimate links posted by those you follow. Criminals have figured out that Twitter is a social network that brings people together. Strangers follow you, and you often reciprocate, following them back and bringing them into your network. As with email phishing scams, criminals post tweets highlighting current events, with links that lead to malicious sites or direct malware downloads. Numerous news outlets have reported on malicious tweets purporting to point to news about Michael Jackson, Obama, Farrah Fawcett, Iraq and even the Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The shortened URLs that are necessary to keep tweets within the 140 character limit help mask these scams. As explained in NextAdvisor:

Whenever a complete URL is too long or cumbersome, many users turn to URL shortening services like TinyURL. Unfortunately, a condensed URL that appears harmless can easily lead to a malware download or phishing site, rather than the destination you were expecting. What appears to be a link to a friend’s home video may actually be pointing you toward the Koobface virus. Hackers can target a single URL shortening service and intentionally misroute millions of users.

How to protect yourself:

  1. Before you click on shortened URLs, find out where they lead by pasting them into a URL lengthening service like TinyURL Decoder or Untiny.
  2. Install anti-virus protection and keep it updated.
  3. Get a credit freeze. Go to and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
  4. Invest in identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses identity theft.



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