Quite many Twitter users have recently seen messages similar to this:
I lost my 15 pounds and my belly fat using free garcinia: http://womenshealth.com-ar1(.)info 🙂
This diet spam campaign has been running for quite some time. If you are not familiar with the topic, please read this article by Softpedia. Read also: Another day, another round of diet spam on Twitter by Graham Cluley.
This blog post contains some additional information.
Here is a list of domain names and links spammers have been using – note that the list is most likely not complete.
30-Jun update: it seems diet spammers are now also using hacked web-sites making it more difficult to spot and block the domains. Many hacked web-sites are using an old version WordPress. Most likely hackers have installed the malicious redirect-script by using a known vulnerability. List of spotted links can be found below (bold).
- com-15.us, com-11.us, com-10.us, com-17.us, com-16.us, com-14.us
- org-17.us, org-18.us, org-10.us, org-13.us, org-14.us
- net-10.us, net-11.us, net-12.us, net-13.us, net-16.us, net-15.us
- com-ar2.info (28-Jun – including cnbc.com-ar2.info which is not diet related)
- com-may.us, com-april.us, com-june.us
- com-c.pw (womenshealth.com-c.pw – reported as a web forgery)
- com-0624.net (weightloss.com-0624.net)
- com-06-24-12.net (loseweight.com-06-24-12.net)
- net-2.us, net-18.us (28-Jun)
- com-lot.pw (28-Jun)
- com-indexrx.us (29-Jun)
- com-mo.com (29-Jun – links appear to be broken)
- toysoncam.com/pbdv.php (30-Jun – most likely a hacked site)
- nameconnect.com/semk9.php (-,,-)
- ericabodinepottery.com/7l2bv.php (-,,-)
- tacticalgearmanufacturer.com/brlue.php (-,,-)
- thoreast.com/gqhqc.php (-,,-)
- tugbucket.net/qbgb.php (-,,-)
- suttoncoldfieldconservativeclub.com/124e3.php (-,,-)
- baliseawalker.com/c1g09.php (-,,-)
- balirc.com/3d0f.php (-,,-)
- bibliofreakblog.com/70nup.php (-,,-)
- baliwatersport.com/3ojnp.php (-,,-)
- obligationagent.com/9zkxe.php (-,,-)
- primsydoodledesigns.net/8pk4l.php (-,,-)
- annuaire4web.com/yuvdh.php (-,,-)
- tolucabaseball.com/96pf6.php (-,,-)
- barsoftball.com/hlf4w.php (-,,-)
- mygoalfriend.com/v45z.php (-,,-)
- stamfan.com/ip5mx.php (-,,-)
- prestigeplus.rs/xtcdo.php (-,,-)
- shetlandpeople.com/h2o9q.php (-,,-)
- nexgen-capital.com/wosz5.php (-,,-)
- psblog.org/ev8wh.php (-,,-)
- radiointel.net/iav16.php (-,,-)
- wp3theme.wpfeed.com/wp-content/plugins/zz53f.php (-,,-)
- digisoft.nl/vijverbergers/z2kks.php (-,,-)
Spammers use sub-domains in order to fool users e.g. womenshealth (womenshealth.com-ar1.info), healthywomen (healthywomen.com-garcinia-diet.net), dieting.com-articles.net, loseweight.com-news-garcinia.net etc. Please note that womenshealth.com and healthywomen.com do not have anything to do with these spam domains. It is relatively easy to spot the spam if you pay attention to the full domain name.
Spammers have also used other tricks such as open redirect vulnerabilities and Google search. More information in E hacking news. At least one open redirect vulnerability has not been fixed yet: wzus1.ask.com. In these cases the domain (e.g. http://ask.com/) is most likely not malicious. Spammers simply misuse a known vulnerability to get users to visit spam sites without realizing it – before it is too late. Example post:
The spam tweets or DMs may come from your followers, unknown persons or even from people you know. There are many “spam bot accounts” involved. But the most worrying part in this campaign is the hijacked user accounts. It is not clear how the accounts were compromised.
Twitter instructions for reporting spam: https://support.twitter.com/articles/64986-how-to-report-spam-on-twitter. Reporting account for spam could be difficult in case the tweet originates from a known person or a friend. It might be also ineffective: the account will not be suspended automatically.
On 26th of June CEO of Twitter, Mr. Dick Costolo (@dickc), reacted to user complaints on Twitter: “we are on it”. I have not yet seen any other public reactions or instructions from Twitter.
Similar spam campaigns
- Spammers play dirty – hijack Twitter accounts again – by Sophos, Oct-2009
- Twitter account sending spam direct messages – by Socially Lost in Media blog, Sep-2012
- Twitter diet spam on the run – by Trend Micro, Mar-2013
Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest are also affected
Twitter is not alone with this problem. I have read about similar problems affecting Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest. E.g. http://pinterest.com/kylef1337/wedding-photography/ – contains “wedding photography” with links to scam pages such as www(.)msnbc.msn.com-april.us (main domain name: com-april.us). This one: http://pinterest.com/source/sms.mojgrad.org/ uses another domain: sms.mojgrad.org which redirects users to http://www.womenshealthmag.com-may.us.
Here is an example spam post from Facebook:
Affected users should change their passwords – yes, all of them – immediately. If that doesn’t stop the spamming, there could be some malicious 3rd party Twitter application involved. You can find instructions on how to revoke access or remove an application from here.
If your account was hacked and tweeted diet spam, it would be interesting to hear about your experiences.