Cybersecurity firm Duo Security, published a new research showing how cryptocurrency-related scam bots have affected the Twitter platform. The research, which analyzed 88 million Twitter accounts, aimed at creating a methodology for identifying Twitter account information, in a bid to look deeper into bots and how they operate.
During the course of the study, security analysts discovered that the social media platform is host to at least 15,000 crypto scam bots—many of which were promoting free token giveaways to unsuspecting Twitter users.
The bots deceive users by creating fake accounts with a profile pictures of prominent people, not just in the cryptocurrency industry. They mimic the profiles of influential people like Roger Ver and even U.S. President Donald Trump to create the fake accounts, which have the blue check marks making them look like real accounts. However, these are run by the bots, which, in turn, get a user’s personal information or lure them into taking part in a scam.
— Roger Ver (@rogerkverss) August 6, 2018
On social platforms, people are predisposed towards believing information that has been widely shared and liked. On Twitter, people believe that the more the retweets the higher the changes the information is true. Scammers are also aware of this fact, and have developed mechanisms that helps their tweets get more retweets or likes. They also use their scam bots to target the most viral tweets.
Efforts to remove these scam bots are proving to be a headache. According to the research, the bots have developed ways of running their operations without being noticed. This has made it very hard for the relevant authorities to take action against them.
People who fell victim to the scams have long changed their account details and warned friends not to engage or believe the information being shared. Some stated clearly they did not receive any tokens or coins from the scammers. Even Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin had to change his twitter account user name to “Vitalik non-giver of Ether.”
The Duo research also states that the bots are actively engaged in preventing authorities from shutting their operation. For instance, a bot account will normally tweet in intervals causing the average time between tweets to be very low.
Responding to the research, a Twitter spokesperson said: “Twitter is aware of this form of manipulation and is proactively implementing a number of detections to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner. Spam and certain forms of automation are against Twitter’s rules. In many cases, spammy content is hidden on Twitter on the basis of automated detections. When spammy content is hidden on Twitter from areas like search and conversations, that may not affect its availability via the API. This means certain types of spam may be visible via Twitter’s API even if it is not visible on Twitter itself. Less than 5% of Twitter accounts are spam-related.”
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