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New Twitter Security Experiment Goes Live

Errata Security's TwiGUARD service detects Twitter spam, malicious links
Errata Security today launched a free, experimental service for detecting Twitter spam and threats called TwiGUARD, which lets Twitter users check if a follower is a spammer or if a link embedded in a tweet is malicious.

"People often get links [on Twitter] that they may want to follow," says Robert Graham, CEO of Errata. "We're finding lots of hostile executables out there, some through a 'bit.ly' link that can break into your machine."

TwiGUARD also tracks the Twitter threat level, which will be adjusted according to active attacks on the service, providing attack details and how users can protect themselves. The threat level starts with Threat Level 1 (normal activity), then Threat Level 2 (possible threat), such as a jump in malicious activity or an indication of a larger attack in the works, and Threat Level 3, in which specific attacks are found on Twitter.

Graham says the site breaks new ground for Twitter security because, so far, there aren't any such tools available. "There's nothing out there for Twitter security, but there's [also] nothing good you can do with Twitter security [now]," he says. "This is useful for a very small part of what we want for Twitter security."

The site, which is still under development, uses a reputation-based algorithm to see if a follower is a spammer or if a link is infected. "Our end goal is to remove those people from your follower list," Graham says. "We're tracking how much malware spam goes across Twitter."

But Graham says it's not easy to do this job, thanks to some efforts by Twitter to get a handle on the spam problem. "In their attempts to stop spam, it makes it hard for us to look at spammers. In many ways, our behavior looks a lot like a spammer," he says.

TwiGUARD's first phase is mainly research, however, and Errata has bigger plans for the second phase of the site. "Right now, it's just experimental," Graham says. "Stage 2 will be finding a service [for this]," he says.

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