Vetting Twitter links

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This is good.

As Twitter becomes increasingly abused by hackers, Finjan Software released on Tuesday a free browser add-on with a new feature that scans links and warns if they point to a page containing malware.

The SecureTwitter component is wrapped into SecureBrowsing, a plug-in for either the Firefox or Internet Explorer browsers, said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Finjan’s CTO.

ecureTwitter is designed to warn people about links that people post on the micro-blogging service. Because of Twitter’s 140-character limit, most of the URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) posted have been shortened using services such as or TinyURL.

Those services completely obscure the true destination of the link, which is dangerous since users have no idea that they could be directed straight to a site that will look for software vulnerabilities in order to infect the PC with malware.

Even if a URL isn’t shortened, it’s nearly impossible to tell if a site may host malware since many legitimate sites have been hacked, too.

“The hacker is taking advantage that their content is now being served by legitimate sites, and there’s high traffic on these sites today,” Ben-Itzhak said. “This is how they distribute their malicious code.”

How does it work?

SecureBrowsing shows either a green check next to a link indicating that the target Web site is fine or a red “X” if it’s bad. SecureBrowsing may also show a question mark if the site can’t be scanned.

Upon visiting Twitter, users will see a rotating circle as Finjan is scanning the URLs. The links are sent to Finjan’s data center, which performs the scan and reports back within a couple of seconds. A pop-up window contains a link that will take a user to Finjan’s site for an explanation of why the site has been flagged as bad.

SecureBrowsing will also scan links in other Web-based services and social networking sites such as Bebo, Digg, Slashdot, MySpace, Gmail and for Google and Yahoo searches. (Source: Free security add-on vets Twitter links – InfoWorld Security Center)

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About brvanlanen

Just a thirty-something guy currently hanging it up in the greater Green Bay area. My post-high school educational background is mainly in the Information Technology field. Specifically I have an A.A.S. in Computer Network Systems and a B.S. in Information Systems Security, both from ITT Technical Institute, in addition to A and MCDST certifications. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking and sports. My Christian faith is also important to me as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran and all my children attend a Lutheran grade school. When it comes to political leanings I am a conservative first and foremost which you will discover rather quickly. As for sports I am a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers.

Posted on June 23, 2009, in malware, Security, Twitter and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Vetting Twitter links.

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