Story image

Twitter users beware: Phishers target account verification in latest attacks

01 Feb 2017

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.

Avi Networks: Using visibility to build trust
Visibility, also referred to as observability, is a core tenet of modern application architectures for basic operation, not just for security.
Privacy: The real cost of “free” mobile apps
Sales of location targeted advertising, based on location data provided by apps, is set to reach $30 billion by 2020.
Myth-busting assumptions about identity governance - SailPoint
The identity governance space has evolved and matured over the past 10 years, changing with the world around it.
Forrester names Crowdstrike leader in incident response
The report provides an in-depth evaluation of the top 15 IR service providers across 11 criteria.
Slack doubles down on enterprise key management
EKM adds an extra layer of protection so customers can share conversations, files, and data while still meeting their own risk mitigation requirements.
Security professionals want to return fire – Venafi
Seventy-two percent of professionals surveyed believe nation-states have the right to ‘hack back’ cybercriminals.
Alcatraz AI to replace corporate badges with AI security
The Palo Alto-based startup supposedly leverages facial recognition, 3D sensing, and machine learning to enable secure access control.
Unencrypted Gearbest database leaves over 1.5mil shoppers’ records exposed
Depending on the countries and information requirements, the data could give hackers access to online government portals, banking apps, and health insurance records.