New Twitter worm targets celebrities

The worm hacks into Twitter profiles and automatically sends unauthorized posts

A worm referencing celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Oprah Winfrey is rapidly spreading across microblogging site Twitter, security firm Sophos said on Friday.

The worm hacks into Twitter profiles and automatically sends unauthorized Twitter status updates to contacts from the hacked accounts. Users who look at infected profiles are then automatically infected, and unauthorized posts are automatically sent to their contacts.

Possibly infected accounts are creating posts that mention the Twitter profile names of celebrities such as Kutcher and Winfrey, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. If the celebrities see the posts and click on the profile names they came from, the infection could spread faster, he said.

Kutcher has more than 1 million people following him on Twitter. "If he were foolish enough to click on one of those, he could be hit and potentially affect a million others," Cluley said.

Cluley wasn't certain whether the accounts of the celebrities themselves had been infected.

Twitter said Friday it was working to fix the problem.

"We're aware of the ongoing spam attack happening on Twitter and we're working to bring it under control," the company said in a blog entry.

The worm spreads by taking advantage of a common Web programming error, called a cross-site scripting vulnerability, on the Twitter Web site, said Aviv Raff, a computer security researcher. The worm only affects users of the Internet Explorer browser, he said in an interview by instant message.

The worm is a modified version of a series of four cross-site scripting worms that spread last week via Twitter. Called "Mikeyy" or "StalkDaily," the worms started off as plugs for the Web site StalkDaily.com, which was owned by Mikeyy Mooney. Mooney admitted to creating the worm.

It was revealed on Friday that Mooney was hired by a Web company, Exqsoft Solutions, "who appear to have thought this a cheap way of publicity," Cluley said. Mooney may not be responsible for the new worm, but it could be from a script-kiddie looking for a job, or someone looking to take revenge on Mooney.

"It is perfectly possible this is a copycat attack or someone trying to get Mikeyy ... into trouble," Cluley said. Nevertheless, Mooney's original intent was dangerous and he has laid the groundwork for potential legal action against him, Cluley said.

To prevent the worm from affecting profiles, Cluley recommends patching browsers and blocking scripting with a plug-in such as NoScript for Firefox. For those infected, Cluley suggests cleaning up their Twitter profiles and clearing out content they didn't add themselves.

(Robert McMillan in San Francisco contributed to this story.)

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags twitterwormcelebrities

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?