Home Security Twitter’s verify account scam steals credentials and credit cards

Twitter is suffering from a phishing campaign that threatens to undermine the credibility of its verified accounts programme and steal credentials and money.

Twitter’s blue verified badge lets users know that an account is legitimate. Typically, this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas. Ordinary Tweeters are not asked to verify their accounts.

Proofpoint has found cyber criminals placing legitimate ads targeting brand managers and influencers, with a link to a phishing site purporting to offer account verification.

Devin Redmond, vice-president and general manager of Digital Security and Compliance, Proofpoint, said, “Attackers go where their victims are – and social media provides them with a unique opportunity to directly reach large audiences, without fighting corporate networks and their often-fortified security defences. Our research conclusively shows this trend is picking up speed. In the first six months of 2016, we saw a 150% increase in social media phishing attacks when compared to the same period the prior year. And that volume increased by 300% in Q3 vs. Q2 2016.

“Our latest discovery, that cyber criminals are actively looking to tempt users into verified account phishing scams, underscores our assertion that social media security and visibility should be on every Australian organisation’s radar. Phishing will be a serious threat to Australian employees, data and companies throughout 2017. We anticipate that cyber criminals will continue to target Australians across the channels they use to work today, which includes email, social media networks, and mobile devices,” Redmond added.

The ads themselves come from an account that mimics the official Twitter support account, @support. The fraudulent account, @SupportForAll6, uses Twitter branding, logos, colours, etc., to increase the sense of authenticity, despite a very low number of followers and a suspect name.

After clicking the link, users find themselves taken to a domain titled twitterhelp.info. The domain name should be a red flag but otherwise appears legitimate. The page itself also mimics Twitter with colour schemes and wording matching that of the official site.

The rest is predictable – you need to provide a credit card number and security code to verify the account and users are passed back to the official Twitter domain, none the wiser that they have given away Twitter credentials and credit card details.

Proofpoint says this scheme, though not especially sophisticated technically, is an excellent example of how attackers are combining traditional phishing methods, social engineering, and social impersonation to ultimately make money in new ways. "And while we observed this attack on Twitter, such a scam could be run on any social media platform that implements some form of account verification."


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!


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