Researchers find Botnet of over 350,000 Twitter accounts

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A group of researchers from UCL have uncovered a massive Twitter Botnet, containing upwards of 350,000 accounts.

A recent study looking at 1% of Twitter’s user base trying to understand how people use social media, has found a huge network of lurking Bots. The largest network constituted 350,000 fake accounts.

After probing further into the Botnets, the data showed strange results. The researchers found many linked accounts, suggesting that it’s one person or group running the linked botnet.

They discovered that the accounts did not act like other bots the researchers had come across, but also were not acting human either. They believe the bots are accounts that are run remotely by someone who automates the messages.

The 350,000 bot accounts stood out because they shared several characteristics, which is what indicated they were linked. These are:

  • Tweets coming from where no one lives
  • Messages only posted from windows phones
  • Almost exclusively using Star Wars quotes


Mark James, ESET IT Security Specialist, discusses why the social media platform is used by hackers to spread malware and botnets.

“Social networks are big for many reasons, not just for their intended purpose.

“They can be used as the new way to measure fame, and that can generate revenue for some people.

“Bots or automated twitter accounts could be used to boost someone’s followers, not necessarily by the owner of the original account I must add.

“Social media is also a very good platform to spread malware, dodgy links, fake websites and generating likes for malicious reasons.

“These are all ways we have seen social media being used.

“Of course it is in Twitters interest to keep the numbers legit, but with hardware and software available today it’s no surprise there are hundreds of thousands, if not more, fake or dummy accounts being used for the wrong reasons.”

Have you ever encountered a bot or fake account on Twitter? Let us know on Twitter @ESETUK

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