Twitter verifies six fake accounts as part of a 1212 account botnet

Twitter has confirmed that six of its accounts were being used as part of a 1212 account botnet. The 1212 accounts were active between October and November of 2012, and used to spread malware, which is something Twitter has warned about in the past. Twitter has been working with McAfee and the FBI to take down the botnet, which involves shutting down the accounts and keeping them offline.

When state-sponsored hackers target a company’s online accounts, it’s usually because they’re looking to steal valuable data. But what happens when a hacker sends a tweet, hoping to dupe Twitter into thinking it’s the real account of an influential person?

Twitter has permanently banned a small number of fake accounts that the platform had mistakenly verified a few weeks after relaunching its public verification program.

The accounts in question were created 26 days ago and have profile pictures that appear to be from stock photo sites, but are fake nonetheless. In total, the fiasco affected six accounts that had almost as many followers but did not post a single tweet.

The incident came to light Sunday when Conspirador Norteño, a data scientist who studies disinformation, mentioned the six Twitter accounts, according to the Daily Dot,

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Two of the six accounts had profile pictures that appeared to be stock photos. The other seems to have been created with artificial intelligence. These six accounts had a total of 976 alleged subscribers whose accounts were closed between the 19th and 20th. June were made, with CGI profile pictures of people or cats.

This botnet uses different variants of profile symbols generated by GAN. (GAN = generative adversarial network, an artificial intelligence technique used by https://t.co/AxF5723Pje).

– 160 fake human faces (all female)
– 169 fake cats
– 183 anime images pic.twitter.com/VYJDitjGxM

– Conspirador Norteño (@conspirator0) July 12, 2021

Most of the following accounts also did not post any tweets. A handful of those who basically just tweeted about an automated Korean spam sent through an automation service called dlvr.it. He also explained that these accounts were part of a botnet consisting of 1,212 accounts.

Very few of the network’s accounts were on Twitter. Most of the content of the tweets is Korean spam sent through the automation service dlvr(dot)it that promotes a website. As always, beware of links to unknown sites posted by dubious accounts pic.twitter.com/DPDnmugx0g

– Conspirador Norteño (@conspirator0) July 12, 2021

In a statement to the Daily Dot, Twitter confirmed that it had mistakenly verified these accounts and took action against them,

We accidentally allowed a small number of non-authentic (fake) accounts to be verified. In line with our policies against platform forgery and spam, we have permanently suspended these accounts and removed their verification badges, Twitter said in a statement.

UPDATE : I heard they ruled out an attacker. I can’t wait to find out what happened.

– Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) 13. July 2021

Former Facebook security director Alex Stamos tweeted about the incident, suggesting it could be the work of an insider. He said something similar happened on Instagram, where spammers paid an insider. However, he later said in an update that they (Twitter) have ruled out the possibility of a malicious insider.

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Someone who writes, edits, films, presents technology programs and races virtual machines in their spare time. You can contact Yadullah at [email protected] or follow him on Instagram or Twitter.

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