They are everywhere and are one of the main negatives of Twitter. The bots, an army of fake accounts that has invaded the social media site, can actually pose a serious risk for users.
They reached the height of their infamy thanks to a fight between politicians to see who could get the most followers on Twitter. This showed, rather humorously, that the network of bots is a double-edged sword. On one hand, they allow you to inflate the number of followers that you have, but on the other hand they can also lead to an embarrassing situation if you’re caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
Nevertheless, this is the harmless side to the bots because, in reality, this coordinated network of fake accounts could put the security of other users at risk. This is because in the hands of a cybercriminal, a network of bots could steal your personal information.
Even if they are most famous for spreading spam, the robots on twitter are also a powerful tool that are used for spreading different types of malware. All it takes is a few hundred false accounts and a shortened URL to infect your computer.
That means that a shortened linked that is tweeted by a large groups of these bots could be a trap to steal user information via phishing, or even a Trojan which could gain access to your bank details.
This is how cybercriminals make a profit from creating fake accounts on Twitter. By stealing user information, they can make money by selling the information or, in extreme cases, stealing directly from your bank account.
Careful with shortened links
It’s important to remind users to be wary before clicking on a shortened link and to follow some advice to be sure that a link is safe. These include checking to see if it has been tweeted by a trusted account or by taking a look at its statistics and web page by adding the “+” symbol to the URL. This is a quick and easy way to avoid a nasty surprise.
Apart from being wary of the shortened links that come from unknown sources, users of Twitter should also be careful with hashtags, which are also becoming a way to spread malicious software.
Bots that are created and coordinated by a cybercriminal can take advantage of the tags on twitter to easily spread malware. This means that you need to keep an eye on trending topics as they are the most dangerous – the cybercriminals know that this is an easy way to take advantage of careless users.
It has to be repeated that the spreading of spam is not the worst thing that these bots can do – if they manage to rob from you via Twitter then that is a far more worrying prospect. In order to avoid this scenario, be wary of every Tweet before opening the content that is contains and, where possible, avoid really popular hashtags. You never know which of them has been infiltrated by an army of bots with bad intentions.