Security Corner

Aug 28 2009   2:39AM GMT

Twitter Security: TwitBlock Blocks the Spammers

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

Besides being a security Geek, I’m also an Internet marketer (no, not the bad kind—the good kind—I actually try to help people with what I sell). Twitter, at first blush, appears to be a great way to get your message out; it probably is, if done right, but it’s also easily abused. Yes, Twitter gets spam, too. The spammers are relatively easy to spot; you see them sending out multiple marketing messages in rapid succession, often using different profiles for the same message.

Here’s the rub: Because Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet, the URLs are always shortened, therefore it’s difficult to identify their target. My policy is to never click on a link in a tweet from someone I don’t know, especially when I see them sending multiple tweets trying to get me to take action of some sort. That’s a dead giveaway that the person or persons controlling the profile are spammers or scammers.

Enter TwitBlock, a junk filter and bulk blocking tool for Twitter users. Here’s what they say:

You may think you have a loyal following of people who find you interesting, or amusing, but they’re probably not all real people. Among your followers will be a wide spectrum of fully automated, or computer aided Twitter accounts. They will range from reputable companies looking to profile and market to you, to fake profiles directing you to adult websites. At the very worst you will find the spammers and phishing gangs – the same junk you get in your email inbox, designed to sell you fake pharmaceuticals, or trick you into parting with your passwords or credit card numbers.

An easy way to spot the spammers on your own is to look for duplicate profile images. I have my own handsome mug posted on my Twitter profile and I’m sure no one else is using it. Spammers tend to use pics of attractive women, often “R” rated, or generic photos. TwitBlock maintains a list of the top 20 duplicate profile pics (Warning: some are inappropriate for young viewers!)

The application is still in alpha, but consider testing it. Just give it some thought before you block “Annette552” who may just be your next door neighbor in disguise, but who is more likely to be a spammer out to get your credit card info. You be the judge.

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