Hackers and spammers have learned that social media is an effective way to spread malware around the Internet. That's why you should be very careful when you receive a direct message on Twitter inviting you to click a link to view an outrageous video or photograph.
Panda Security reports the latest Twitter spam campaign making the rounds may compromise user security. It uses a racial slur and promises to show President Obama "punching a guy in the face."
Of course, there is no such video. If the user clicks the link in the message, he is taken to a bogus Facebook page where he is are prompted to submit his Twitter log-in details.
What happens if you fall for it
However, if the user enters her credentials, the malware will hijack her account in order to send the same malicious message to all of her contacts.
The user is then taken to a Website that displays a fake YouTube video set against a fake Facebook background. This time, the victim is asked to update a "YouTube player" to watch the video. As typical with this type of scam, if the user clicks on the "Install" button, the Koobface.LP worm is downloaded, infecting his computer and attempts to steal all his personal data.
"This attack exploits the two most popular social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter, to trick users into believing they are viewing a trusted site," said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs. "It also relies on its victims' curiosity by using a scandalous story involving U.S. President Obama and racism. Cyber-criminals know people are curious by nature and take advantage of this to trick users and infect them with their creations."
Security experts point out that this is just the latest example of a cyber-scam that uses Twitter direct messages to spread. Users' accounts receive dozens of them every day with malicious links and enticing messages such as, "What exactly do you think you're doing on this video clip," "Hello this guy is saying bad rumors about u..." and "Did you see this pic of you?", etc.
"Never, ever, click the links within the text of those messages as they could infect your computer," said Corrons. "Every time you receive a direct message you should check with the sender that they have knowingly sent it to you. Make sure it has not been automatically forwarded to you from a hacked account. As a general rule, always keep your antivirus software up to date and be wary of messages offering sensational videos or unusual stories as, in 99 percent of cases they are designed to compromise user security."