Cybercriminals are using Twitter accounts to distribute links that redirect users to fake anti-virus sites and download malicious programs on to their computers.
According to Kaspersky Lab, a leading software developer and threat management solutions company, cyber criminals are using Google’s web address shortening service Goo.gl, and converting longer URLs into shorter versions which disguise their malicious destination.
The shortened URL transfers the victim through a number of redirections before they eventually land on the fake anti-virus webpage. Here, users receive a warning inviting them to remove all threats from their computer. If the user chooses to do so, a Rogue AV application called ‘Security Shield’ starts downloading, causing the user’s computer to become infected with a malicious program.
Shortened URLs have become very popular and are widely used on micro blogging sites such as Twitter where there is a character limitation restricting longer URLs being used. Unfortunately solving one problem has inadvertently created another.
Shortened URLs may make it easier to share, tweet or email links to friends but it also creates a huge security threat,” said Jimmy Fong, Kaspersky Lab’s Director of channel Sales, Southeast Asia.
“It is now much easier for cybercriminals to disguise the destination of their malicious links until it is too late and the victim lands on an infected site.”
“Users should remain particularly wary of links posted on social networking and micro blogging sites which have fast become a cybercriminal’s playground. Clicking on the wrong link could lead to severe infection of their machine. Users should remember the golden rule - if in doubt, don’t download,” said Mr Fong.
Fake Anti-Virus programs also known as ‘scareware,’ have been around for some time and are a popular money making tool in cybercriminals’ arsenal.
“Downloading a rogue AV can result in the installation of malware that goes undetected as it steals their data, or the victim could find themselves being lured into fraudulent transactions such as upgrading to a non- existent paid version of the program.”
“Cybercriminals are always going to be trying new ways of taking advantage of unwary users. It is up to each user to protect themselves by installing appropriate security software on to their systems. All Kaspersky Lab products are capable of detecting this threat via their inbuilt heuristic analyzer,” Mr Fong said.