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15K Twitter Crypto Scam Giveaway Bots Says Duo Security

This week, experts uncovered empirical data confirming what most in the crypto Twittersphere already know – the area if flooded with scam bots: 15,000 of them to be exact, according to Duo Security.

Experts Find 15K Twitter Crypto Scam Giveaway Bots

Don’t @ Me: Hunting Twitter Bots at Scale by Duo Security’s Jordan Wright and Olabode Anise is 46 pages of intense fine-tooth combing of data linked to the phenomenon of Twitter bots. “Social networks allow people to connect with one another, share ideas, and have healthy conversations. Recently, automated Twitter accounts, or ‘bots,’ have been making headlines for their performance at spreading spam and malware, as well as influencing this online conversation,” the authors began.

Over three months on their way to present findings at Black Hat USA 2018, experts detail how they “identified botnets, including a spam-spreading botnet case study,” Mr. Wright and Mr. Anise explain, though they “specifically looked for automated accounts, not necessarily malicious automated accounts.”

Their key results, published open source, were achieved as they “gathered a dataset of 88 million public Twitter profiles consisting of standard account information represented in the Twitter API, such as screen name, tweet count, followers/following counts, avatar and description. As API limits allow, this dataset was enriched with both the tweets published by accounts, as well as with targeted social network information (follower/following) information. Practical data science methods can be applied to create a classifier that is effective at finding automated Twitter accounts, also known as ‘bots.’”

Duo Security is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and just this month announced getting acquired by Cisco. The offer is worth more than $2 billion, and is likely to finalize in late October of this year. Cisco is interested in the firm due to its zero-trust authentication solution in order to buttress Cisco’s own network and cloud security offerings.

At Least 15,000 Bots Spreading a Cryptocurrency Scam

“By monitoring the botnet over time,” the researchers continued, “we discover ways the bots evolve to evade detection. Our cryptobot scam case study demonstrates that, after finding initial bots using the tools and techniques described in this paper, a thread can be followed that can result in the discovery and unraveling of an entire botnet. For this botnet, we use targeted social network analysis to reveal a unique three-tiered hierarchical structure.”

Furthermore, the paper “provides an in-depth description of the whole process for finding Twitter bots, from gathering the info to performing the evaluation.” Many of Duo Labs workers “use Twitter as a way to connect to the infosec industry. We were familiar with automated Twitter accounts, and had read previous academic papers covering both methods on creating a dataset of Twitter accounts as well as using various ways to recognize automated accounts from a previously shared dataset.”

15,000 Twitter Crypto Scam Giveaway Bots: Duo SecurityFor its part, “Twitter announced that they are taking more proactive action against both automated spam and malicious content by identifying and challenging ‘more than 9.9 million potentially spammy or automated accounts per week.’ In a follow-up blog post, Twitter also described their plans to remove accounts that had been previously locked due to suspicious activity from follower counts,” the experts noted.

The group doesn’t consider the issue solved, however. “We’re excited to find these efforts by Twitter and are hopeful that these increased investments will succeed in combating spam and malicious content,” they laud. Still their case study “demonstrates that arranged botnets remain active and can be discovered with relatively straightforward evaluation. By open-sourcing the tools and techniques developed in this research, [they] hope to enable experts to keep building on [their] work, creating new ways to recognize and flag malicious bots, and helping to keep Twitter and other social networks a place for healthy online conversation and community.”

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