Researchers have discovered a huge botnet that mimics under real Twitter accounts. Its accounts are used to promote fraudulent schemes using cryptocurrency.
As ITPro reports, the botnet was discovered during the research of the Duo Security team, which checked 88 million Twitter. To identify bots, malicious accounts, etc. researchers used machine learning.
The team of researchers found a three-tiered network of more than 15,000 bots used to promote the 'scheme', in which people are offered to transfer a small amount in the cryptocurrency, and then get a big profit. Over time, this network evolved for masking purposes.
Researchers said that attackers, as a rule, first create a fake account that mimics under a real account that is related to crypto-currencies, copying its name and image in the profile.
For promotion purposes, bots comment on tweets and leave a link leading to the fraudulent portal.
It turned out that the subscribers of many imitative accounts are the so-called "hub-accounts", created, in the opinion of researchers, "to give them legitimacy."
In the botnet army, there are also "bot-amplifiers" - fake accounts that put the likes of fraudulent tweets to "artificially inflate the popularity of the tweet and give legitimacy to this cryptocurrency fraud."
Malicious bot detection and prevention is a cat-and-mouse game. We anticipate that enlisting the help of the research community will enable discovery of new and improving techniques for tracking bots. However, this is a more complex problem than many realize, and as our paper shows, there is still work to be done.
Principal R&D engineer, Duo
Although Twitter has recently taken a number of measures to combat such cryptocurrency fraud schemes, Duo researchers concluded that these botnets are still active. "We do not believe that the problem is solved," the publication reads.
They plan to make public the techniques described in the article, in the hope of developing new methods that will identify malicious bots and help "Twitter and other social networks remain a place for healthy online discussion and building communities."