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Microbloggers: Beware Of Dangerous Twitter-Growth Websites

Fueled by hype generated by celebrity devotees like Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, and Stephen Fry, it seems like everyone is jumping on board the Twitter train.
Fueled by hype generated by celebrity devotees like Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, and Stephen Fry, it seems like everyone is jumping on board the Twitter train.Of course, once you're using Twitter, the first move you'll want to make is to follow some people (perhaps friends, family, or a couple of celebs) and hope that some of them will follow you back.

Third-party Websites like Twittercounter and Twitterholic can even help you see how you compare in popularity with your fellow Twitter users, or tell you whether you're the most followed Twitter addict in your town.

But if someone promised they could guarantee you hundreds of new followers on Twitter every day, would you believe him? Would you be prepared to enter your Twitter username and password on a third-party site, effectively giving it to a complete stranger?

That's the trap many Twitter users fell into this past weekend, as the following video demonstrates:

Off the rails: Twitter, passwords and Twittertrain from SophosLabs on Vimeo.

Having handed over their account details, hundreds and hundreds of Twitter users started spamming the following message from their accounts, directing even more traffic to the site:

OMG WOW Im getting 100s of followers a day. Check out this site http://twittertrain.net

The truth is, you are playing Russian roulette every time you give your username and password to a third-party Website. Their promises of magically getting you more genuine followers on the microblogging network are likely to be little more than snake oil.

Twittertrain isn't the last Website to try and tempt you into handing over your password, and it won't be the last. Ultimately, it's your responsibility to ensure you never give your username and password to anyone -- or next time, it could be you endangering the safety of other users.

Graham Cluley is senior technology consultant at Sophos, and has been working in the computer security field since the early 1990s. When he's not updating his other blog on the Sophos website you can find him on Twitter at @gcluley. Special to Dark Reading.