Fighting On!

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 27, 2012 in Internet |

Strange, but no matter where you happen to go on the Internet, you’re going to get hit by spam, by pop-up and pop-under advertising, but attempts to infect your computer through a virus. Two examples I’ve come across recently.

The first is on Instagram which, fortunately, is not such a big thing. The likelihood of getting a computer infection through Instagram is somewhat smaller since the site is meant for smartphones and not really the Internet. That said, it is more than  possible if someone decides to put an external ink in one of their comments and someone follows it (to their doom!). Instagram has problems with spam messages and comments just the same as any forum or comment thread. Someone creates an account and sends out comments about how wonderful a certain job site is, and they just got a job there. Absolutely believable, I don’t think, and annoying. The sites has names like InstagramJobs, which would make them suspect from the get go.

There is a reporting system in place, although I don’t know whether it works since I never bother with a follow up and my account hasn’t been found by the spammers yet.

More of a problem is Twitter. First you have spam, as you’d expect, then you have sponsored Tweets; Tweets someone has paid to have inserted in your Timeline without you being connected to the sender in any way. This is, I am told, one of the ways that Twitter makes money which is fine by me, as long as it steers itself in the right direction and the Tweets are clearly marked as sponsored. Mostly they have nothing to do with my interests anyway, so I can ignore them or, a good thing about Twitter, block them.

So that isn’t the problem. The problem is those people coming onto Twitter now and sending out personal (direct message) or linked (quoting the user name) Tweets with a link to a photograph or something similar. Sometimes there is also a question, like ‘Is this you?’, attached to it, sometimes just the photo link. These lead through a shortened link to a web page which redirects to a Russian site – one I have heard of is spy.ru – which infects your computer with a nasty virus or Trojan. I’ve seen a couple recently, addressed to me, but as I know there aren’t any photographs, I hardly need look.

What can Instagram and Twitter do against such people? Sadly, precious little. Setting up an account is quick and easy, a few minutes work and it is there and the user can start spamming. Much the same as with many other systems. Close down an account, also easy, if there are enough people working the abuse desk. Then wait for the next account to be opened and the cycle begins again. It’s a bit like the advertising in newspapers: we decide upon a service or product, and take whatever comes with it.

I haven’t seen any warnings from Twitter on the virus links yet, but I am sure they will come eventually…

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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