Friday, January 20, 2012

Spammers Using Twitter to Harvest Valid Email Addresses

Twitter icon by James WhiteHave you ever wondered how spammers collect email addresses?

While we all know a spammer can go out and purchase a mailing list, it may not be common knowledge that they can also harvest valid email addresses from social networking sites like Twitter.

I know it sounds crazy, but people have written scripts that sift through Twitter search results in and pluck email addresses that they then add to their list of spam victims.

The amount of email addresses that a spammer can collect using a simple Twitter email harvesting script is phenomenal too.

Security researchers at Websense recently ran an experiment where they monitored Twitter to see how many email addresses were shared. During a 24-hour period, they found that more than 11,000 email addresses were shared worldwide!

Tweets with Email Addresses

Not only are folks who share their email address opening themselves up to spam, but they could potentially be increasing their risk of their email account being infiltrated by a very determined cybercrook.  After all, the guy who managed to break into the email accounts of multiple celebrities did so by keeping a watchful eye on their social media accounts in order to guess their passwords.

So how can you keep your email account safe and spam-free? Websense offers the following tips:

  • Only share your email address via DM (direct message) on Twitter.

  • Treat emails from friends linking you to other sites with caution.

  • Don’t use passwords that can be inferred from publicly accessible information.

  • Make sure that your email security has superior malware protection against modern threats.

Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet,  “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.

Twitter bird by James White
Tweets with email addresses credit: Websense Security Labs

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