Duo Security researchers have found over 15,000 Twitter bots being used to push cryptocurrency scams.
Scams have been around since the dawn of man. I was exposed to scams in my youth through the various ads in the back of comic books. All kinds of wondrous toys and other items were dangled in front of eager kids, but the reality is that the item ordered often did not live up to expectations. (Case in point is the infamous Sea-Monkeys promotion.) Now social media is allowing scams to have greater reach and an ease of launching, especially when it comes to cryptocurrency and Twitter.
Twitter Bots Everywhere
The Twitter social media platform is an important place for cryptocurrency movers, shakers, and enthusiasts. Flames are thrown, plans for new coins and ICOs are announced, and discussions over regulations, hard forks, and current prices are easily found. However, cryptocurrency scams also abound on the platform.
Researchers from Duo Security combed through all the social media chatter. What they found was pretty amazing: over 15,000 bots designed to promote cryptocurrency scams.
Many crypto enthusiasts have come across some of these bots sometime in the past. One of the common forms a Twitter bot takes is pretending to be someone important in the cryptocurrency sphere. These fake accounts then begin regurgitating the real Tweets from the copied source, trying to lure unsuspecting people in.
Duo Security found some ways that such bots escape detection. They spoof high-profile accounts, use Unicode characters instead of ASCII in Tweets, use typos when spoofing high-profile people and companies, outright steal images while doing some minor editing to them, and adding white spaces between words or punctuation. In essence, such bots are constantly in a war against Twitter as the platform seeks to purge them by constantly updating its algorithms.
The malicious bots seek to run cryptocurrency scams, usually by offering a cryptocurrency giveaway. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has had a number of spoof accounts attached to his name, promoting fake giveaways, such as “send me .5 ETH and I’ll send you 1 ETH back.”
The sheer number of such bots is amazing, but Duo Security points out that they also work together to promote their scams. They found that there are amplification bots whose job is to promote the tweets from other robot accounts. Tweets are liked and retweeted, which give users a false sense of authenticity.
In the end, as soon as Twitter finds one way to banish a bunch of fake accounts, scammers will find ways to put them back online. It’s a never-ending war. The best bet that anyone can do is to make absolutely sure that a Tweet is coming from a verified account. Plus, the old adage of “if something is too good to be true, it probably is” should always be observed.
Have you fallen for a cryptocurrency scam on Twitter? Let us know in the comments below.
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