SAN FRANCISCO — Real-time social messaging utility Twitter is this year's "it girl," hands down. And with success come more and more spam attacks, as well as unwanted porn and phishing schemes, often hitting tweet-happy minors.
Recent weeks have seen Twitter users who don't make their accounts private receiving messages from unknown users containing "inappropriate" links, CNN reports.
Those links could launch pop-up pages that may look like porn sites but instead are loaded with spyware designed to open up a PC to hackers, attempting to access email contacts, financial information and other personal data.
In May, AVN.com reported on a "Porn Name Game" phishing scam that could put some user security information at risk.
Then, as noted by security site CSO Online, Twitter hacking just a few weeks ago spread a porn-related Trojan virus aimed at both Windows and Mac users when the account of Mac proponent Guy Kawasaki was taken over.
Twitter has seen security nightmares in recent months, including hackers getting into the accounts of President Barack Obama, Britney Spears (granted, nowhere near as important) and other famous names.
The latest Twitter attack came on July 5 in the former of "Operation Sh**ter," said to have been orchestrated via the site 4chan through a wiki on insurgen.info with instructions for any participating pranksters to create a fake account and start posting spam and nonsensical messages with the Twitter "hashtag" of "#gorillapenis" included in every message.
The 4chan instructions also asked users to register eBaum's World — a multimedia content, blog and gaming site — as their location in the user profile. While the instructions claim eBaum's is a "sponsor," the site disavows involvement with the spam scheme.
According to CNET, the instigators are a hacking collective of sorts from online bulletin board 4chan and other boards frequented by hackers. The same bunch has claimed credit for a recent YouTube porn prank, playing havoc with a Time magazine online poll of 2009's most influential people, and is also suspected of hitting the Church of Scientology with a cyber attack last year.
The gorilla penis scheme was a top trending topic on Twitter until the company stepped in to deal with the spam attack and eliminate the fake accounts.
At the same time, in what's been called "human error," perhaps thousand of legitimate user accounts were said to have been suspended.
According PC World, most of those suspended accounts used a third-party Twitter application, Tweetlater, but Twitter said the program was "not to blame for these suspensions nor is it in violation of terms."
It is unknown if the suspensions were related to purging of the fake, 4chan-spawned accounts.
Twitter was not available for further comment.