Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

The Death of Twitter and Short URLs ???

The Death of Twitter and Short URLs ???

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The first time I saw twitter and the little URL converters that shorten big long URLs into tiny undecipherable URL thingies, I just knew this was a technology looking for a problem.  I was right.  Sure enough, the bad guys have already started using Twitter as a platform for their antics.  See http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/30/new-twitter-virus-best-video/ for some information on one of the latest worms taking advantage of the technology.

image The Impact

I have already started educating my family members on the problem.  You don’t think it’s a problem?  Think again.  The service is currently down.  And this sort of thing will likely have me shutting down my twitter account.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to worry about the risk associated with this sort of nefarious activity.

How do you know that the tweet coming from someone you follow is actually coming from them?  And even if you have some reasonable assurance, what security checks are in the platform and ANY of the twitter clients to prevent you from going to a web site that is trying to steal personal information?  None that I can tell.

Think about it.  Think about how much money has been spent trying to stop spam on email systems and the internet.  Do you really think a system like twitter with celebrities' millions of followers aren't just ripe for abuse?  Aren’t those tiny little URLs cute.  Target rich.

And the bad guys know it.  You were warned.

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  • never signed up for that junk and never will.

  • Interesting. I was trying to 'tweet' from my mobile phone and getting a very, very strange error.   As for those TinyURLs.. I never open them from website, only directly in IMs after I ask the person what it is first to rule out an IM bot..  It needs to temporarily redirect you to a page at tinyurl, where it shows the full URL, and allows you to click it to continue manually.

  • I have an addon that automatically converts any tinyurl's to the original. Unfortunately that addon only works for Firefox and not IE.

  • Most of the url shrinking services allow a preview mode to see where the url is linking to. With this feature many of the twitter apps, such as TweetDeck now provide a popup window showing you what the actual url is in the link giving you the option to not visit the website if it looks fishy.