Twitter worms aren’t the only threat

By Roel Schouwenberg
Over the weekend, we’ve seen a number of Cross Site Scripting worms for Twitter.
 
Now, with all the recent security problems at Twitter,  these worms [networkworld.com] come as little surprise.  The most virulent worm is not particularly complex in the vulnerability it is exploiting. The original author? A bored 17-year-old who had nothing better to do over the Easter weekend.

By Roel Schouwenberg

Over the weekend, we’ve seen a number of Cross Site Scripting worms for Twitter.
 
Now, with all the recent security problems at Twitter,  these worms [networkworld.com] come as little surprise.  The most virulent worm is not particularly complex in the vulnerability it is exploiting. The original author? A bored 17-year-old who had nothing better to do over the Easter weekend.

A story like this is clearly reminiscent of the malware landscape ten years ago — the malware is noisy and annoying rather than a serious threat as no user credentials are currently being stolen.

Yesterday, while watching what was going on Twitter, I noticed a lot of tweets about twitzap. Suspecting this was a worm I did some digging and found that it wasn’t. It turned out this was a separate service with a nice “promote us” button that made a Twitter user post a status update promoting the service.

What do you have to do to activate it? Click on the button – and it sends a promotional update to your Twitter account!

A quick search revealed that this service only started receiving attention this Monday.
Given the XSS worm, I think the promotion of this service could have been a whole lot better.

Also in response to the new XSS-Worms, some web services have been created to supposedly protect the user. But again, these services ask users to just click on a link – while asking their friends to do the same. So your Twitter account gets updated, but if the service happens to be malicious, you could be sending off your account details to who knows where!

It’s actually this part of the social networks that scares me much more than an XSS-worm.

Web sites left and right that integrate with Twitter – and other networks – are asking users to use their services. Many people seem to be making use of them without too many questions, and without any proper means of verifying the integrity of these services.

What does this mean? Users are basically being trained to give up their credentials just like that.

XSS-Worms are not the real problem here, folks. We’re basically growing a new set of (extra) vulnerable users which will be more vulnerable to attack simply because they’re not asking any questions.

* Roel Schouwenberg is a senior anti-virus researcher for Kaspersky Lab. He is a member of the company’s Global Research & Analysis Team and focuses on attacks targeting banks and other financial institutions.

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