Don't become Twitter phishing bait

We continue to see Twitter users being targeted by criminal campaigns designed to phish passwords for the site. The problem is that often they are disguised as direct messages (DMs in Twitter parlance) from your online friends.

The latest attack comes in the form of a DM from one of your Twitter acquaintances: "when did you make this video? its hilarious, cant stop laughing lol [LINK]"

It's the sort of message that many Twitter users may feel very tempted to click on. After all, it's come directly from one of your Twitter buddies, and if it's really a video of you that's hilarious you probably want to see it for yourself.

If you click on the link you are taken to Twitter's login page, where you are asked to confirm your username and password.

Woah! Did I say that was Twitter's login page? I mean, it sure looks like Twitter's login page – but if you take a careful look at the address bar you'll see that you're not at twitter.com but (in this case) itwitier.com instead.

Which means that you might be about to hand over the username/password for your Twitter account to a complete stranger. That's like throwing your car keys out of the window.

And chances are that that may well be what the Twitter pal whose account sent you the message in the first place did. Or maybe they unwittingly added a rogue application that sent the DMs on their behalf.

And once the bad guys have your Twitter password, they can not only start sending spam messages from your Twitter account – they can also try that password against other accounts which you may have online.

In other words, before you know it, you could find all kinds of internet accounts you own have been broken into – and who knows what the cybercriminals might take from them or how they might abuse them for more money-making.

So, first thing's first: Change your password.

If you use the same password in multiple places, it only takes one password to be stolen for fraudsters to be able to gain access to your other accounts and steal information for financial gain.

Not sure how to choose a password that's memorable but also hard for the hackers to guess? Watch this video:

If you found your Twitter account was one of those sending out the phishing messages, you shouldn't just change your password and consider if you are using the same password elsewhere. You should also visit the Applications tab in "Account Settings", and revoke access for any third-party application that you don't recognise.

Take care of your computer's health by keeping your defences up-to-date, and remain aware of the latest threats by reading sites like Naked Security or following me on Twitter.

Graham Cluley is senior technology consultant at Sophos.