Story image

Twitter users beware: Phishers target account verification in latest attacks

01 Feb 17

Twitter is now the target of a phishing attack that uses methods to trick brand managers and social influencers into fake account verification.

Security firm Proofpoint discovered the phishing attack, which places ads on websites and lures brand managers to false verification pages.

The ads come from an account that copies the official Twitter support account. It looks genuine through Twitter branding, logos and colours. However, the handle @SupportForAll6 and the low number of followers detracts from the authenticity.

The scam uses Twitter-sponsored ads, which appear in feeds without any user interaction, need to follow or messaging requirements.

When users click the link, they are taken to a domain called twitterhelp.info. Proofpoint says the domain should give the game away, but otherwise the site looks genuine.  The URL resolves to an IP address that has previously been used for phishing activities. When users follow instructions, they are asked for Twitter usernames, emails, phone numbers and the account passwords.

Users are then prompted for their credit card number and security code for additional ‘verification’.  The form includes a template for extracting payment information from Github and tells users ‘they will not be charged’.

“While there is no validation on the form asking for account information, allowing users to submit empty values, this is not the case with the financial information; this cannot be submitted without providing the requested credit card information,” Proofpoint says.

The final step of the process includes a thank you note and notification to receive an email with verification details. The site then redirects to the genuine Twitter page, concluding the apparent legitimacy of the transaction.

Proofpoint says that the phishing attempts are not overly sophisticated, use social engineering, traditional phishing methods and social impersonation to come up with new ways of creating attacks.

What’s worse is that these techniques could be applied to any social media platform that uses account verification.

Devin Redmond, vice president and general manager of Digital Security and Compliance, Proofpoint, says attackers will always go where their victims are.

"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 only 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% Q3 vs. Q2 2016,” he says.

Twitter’s Brand Verification and account verification have been described as ‘powerful’ ways for brands to distance themselves from fake, parody and fraudulent accounts. When a brand is authenticated, it receives a special badge that shows users the account is verified.

“Our latest discovery, that cybercriminals 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 organization’s radar. Phishing will be a serious threat to Australian employees, data and companies throughout 2017. We anticipate that cybercriminals will continue to target Australians across the channels they use to work today, which includes email, social media networks and mobile devices,” Redmond says.

How blockchain will impact NZ’s economy
Distributed ledgers and blockchain are anticipated to provide a positive uplift to New Zealand’s economy.
25% of malicious emails still make it through to recipients
Popular email security programmes may fail to detect as much as 25% of all emails with malicious or dangerous attachments, a study from Mimecast says.
Human value must be put back in marketing - report
“Digital is now so widely adopted that its novelty has worn off. In their attempt to declutter, people are being more selective about which products and services they incorporate into their daily lives."
Wine firm uses AR to tell its story right on the bottle
A Central Otago wine company is using augmented reality (AR) and a ‘digital first’ strategy to change the way it builds its brand and engages with customers.
DigiCert conquers Google's distrust of Symantec certs
“This could have been an extremely disruptive event to online commerce," comments DigiCert CEO John Merrill. 
Protecting organisations against internal fraud
Most companies tend to take a basic approach that focuses on numbers and compliance, without much room for grey areas or negotiation.
Telesmart to deliver Cloud Calling for Microsoft Teams
The integration will allow Telesmart’s Cloud Calling for Microsoft Teams to natively enable external voice connectivity from within Teams collaborative workflow environment.
Jade Software & Ambit take chatbots to next level of AI
“Conversation Agents present a huge opportunity to increase customer and employee engagement in a cost-effective manner."