Beware shortcuts for getting more followers on Twitter

There are various different ways of getting more followers on Twitter.

The easiest method is to be a celebrity. It doesn’t matter if you tweet anything interesting, you’ll probably find a fair number of people will follow you regardless.

Alternatively, you could try to tweet something that people find useful or amusing or informative on a regular basis. If you put in the hours, write great tweets and be yourself then you may find others are happy to follow you and engage with you online.

But if both of those options sound far too tricky, you might be tempted to try the Twitter equivalent to a “get rich quick” scheme in your hunt for more followers.

Take these messages which are currently appearing on Twitter, for instance:

Get more followers tweets


If you are tempted to click on the link, you will be taken to a webpage which offers you a service that promises hundreds or thousands of new followers. Many different websites exist like this, here’s just two of the sites we have seen being used in the current campaign.

Get more followers webpages

Although the graphics differ, the basic template of the site remains the same – including options to either pay for a VIP plan or try out a free service that promises hundreds of new followers.

I must admit I smelt a rat, and so I created a brand new Twitter account to see what would happen if I tried out the “free trial”.

Get more followers username and password request

Hello hello.. what’s this? The pages ask you to enter your Twitter username and password. That should instantly have you running for the hills – why should a third-party webpage require your Twitter credentials? What are the owners of these webpages planning to do with your username and password? Can they be trusted?

In the bottom right hand corner, they admit that they are not endorsed or affiliated with Twitter.

Now obviously I wasn’t going to handle over the password for my @gcluleyTwitter account, so I entered the login details for the test account I had just created instead.

Before I knew it, I was presented with a familiar Twitter dialog box asking me if I really wanted to grant an application access to my Twitter account.

Get more followers authorise app

Common sense would hopefully tell you to step back at this point, and not allow the app’s authorisation. But if you’re hungry for new followers maybe you would continue, oblivious to the risks.

But sadly, some people are too keen for new followers. And they pay the price in the form of a message promoting the followers service is posted to their feed. In this way, the links can spread rapidly between Twitter users.

Get more followers tweets

What surprised me the most however is that I started to get many more followers on my test Twitter account. Other, seemingly random, Twitter user began to follow my test account in huge swathes and my account began to follow seemingly random people in return.

Although this may seem like a good thing, it isn’t. After all, the rogue app has now made your account follow scores of seemingly random Twitter users – if you have no interest in what they have to say, you’re going to find that pretty irritating.

Blue birdFurthermore, if you’re just playing a numbers game on Twitter you’re fooling no-one but yourself. It doesn’t actually matter how many people in total follow you on Twitter – what’s much more important is how many people arelistening to what you’re saying on Twitter.

It’s no good, for instance, if you have five million Twitter followers but there aren’t actual people sitting behind them, reading what you have to say.

In other words, these “get more followers fast” apps are a waste of time. You’re not interested in what random people are saying on Twitter, so why should random people care about what you have to say?

Furthermore, whose to say that some of these new people who you are following are not cybercriminals, planning to tweet out malicious links or spam messages in your direction?

So, what should you do?

Well, if you fell for the trap and granted the rogue application access to your Twitter account, revoke its rights immediately by going to the Twitter website and visiting Settings/Applications and revoking the offending app’s rights.

Revoke Twitter application

But don’t forget that you entered your username and password on the third-party website too! That means you should consider your password to now be compromised, and you should change it as soon as possible.

Remember – the fact that you gave them your username and password means they could in theory log into your account and read any of the information you store up there – including your email address and your private direct messages.

If you take no action against attacks like this, don’t be surprised if the unknown parties who now have control over your Twitter account use it to commit crimes or cause a nuisance.SRC

China building GFW-free cloud computing zone for tech companies and startup

Local Chinese press Southern Weekend reports that China is building a ‘cloud computing’ Special Administrative Region (SAR), a special hi-tech industrial zone for tech companies and startups to have complete, uncensored access to the Internet.

The Cloud SAR is a RMB 1 billion ($US 154m) project being built in Chongqing, south-western China. Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of this industrial zone is that it will be free from China’s infamous Internet-filtering system so as to enable tech companies to be on par with the developments around the world in cloud computing. It will be using an Internet connection that is isolated from the mainland network so no data would have to go through the Great Firewall of China.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Because it is. And it doesn’t come without a big “but”. According to the report, this place will strictly be exclusive to foreigners and no local Chinese enterprises will be allowed. In fact, Chinese citizens are not allowed to enter the area, and the working employees will have to pass through strict security checks before entering their workplace.

Cloud computing is becoming popular around the world, with US and European companies locating servers in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and India to reduce costs. China, although popular for its cheap labor, couldn’t take advantage of the cloud computing business due to the restrictions on Internet access.

The Chinese Government has approved a Special Administrative Region in order to build an international data center hub. Foreign investors can carry out offshore operations in the SAR with unrestricted Internet access and unlike in other parts of China can hold 100% of the company’s shares.

IT Forecast: Increasing Cloudiness

If you think cloud computing will become a major factor in IT of the future, you’re not alone. With more cloud providers on the scene than ever before, plus a plethora of new mobile end user devices such as iPad and other tablets and iPhone and other smartphones, users can now be more productive on the go than ever before. Now, a new survey by IDC/IDG Enterprise shows increasing cloudiness ahead as IT executives say they believe the cloud will significantly impact IT organizations, IT vendors and enterprises. Many of the concerns around cloud computing today will ultimately become catalysts for the move to the cloud. Here’s a look at what IT decision makers had to say about cloud trends in the immediate future.
Almost 80 percent of IT executives said that cloud service brokers that provide integration, management, security and other services across public cloud offerings will emerge as powerful industry players by 2015.

‘Gifted’ teenager held in hacking probe

'Gifted' teenager held in hacking probe

A FORMER Essex special school pupil accused of masterminding an international computer hacking operation from his bedroom was gifted, his head teacher said.

Ryan Cleary, 19, who is suspected of launching cyber attacks on the US Senate, CIA, Sony and UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency, was encouraged to study computing at Colchester Institute when he finished his GCSEs.

Teachers at the Heath School, Colchester, put him forward for a course at the further education college after recognising his potential in ICT.

During his time at the Winstree Road school he hacked into fellow pupils’ passwords on the school system.

His attendance dropped off in the final term and he did not pass all his exams.

Stewart Grant, who was headteacher at the Heath School, which changed its name to Ramsden Hall School when it moved to Langham in 2009, said: “If he had stayed with us properly right through year 11 I have no doubt he would have walked out with a lot of GCSEs.

“He was particularly good with ICT.”

He added it was not unusual for children with behavioural and emotional problems to be gifted.

“We have a whole range of youngsters who end up with us who are quite gifted in ares such as ICT and art, but can’t survive in mainstream schools because of their behaviour,” he said.

However, he said he was surprised by the media attention Mr Cleary had attracted.

“There are lots of children who pass through school and may get on the wrong side of the law but they don’t end up in the national press.

“He clearly was an intelligent youngster who went to a school for behavioural problems who three years down the line used the skills he picked up over time to get himself into trouble.”

Mr Cleary was arrested after police raided his Wickford home as part of a pre-planned operation involving the FBI and the Met Police.

He was taken to a London police station where he was questioned about computer-misuse and fraud offences.

If charged, he could be extradited to America to stand trial.

The FBI suspects he is the brains behind hacking group Lulzsec.

Lulzsec was believed to have intially targeted only US broadcasters including PBS and Fox and gaming firms.

But the Twitter page @Lulzsec recently declared its intention to break into Government websites and leak confidential documents. plugins hacked, Dropbox lets its passwords down

Badge technology blog

From the (that is, the code development site, not the blog hosting site, which is

Earlier today the WordPress team noticed suspicious commits to several popular plugins (AddThis, WPtouch, and W3 Total Cache) containing cleverly disguised backdoors. We determined the commits were not from the authors, rolled them back, pushed updates to the plugins, and shut down access to the plugin repository while we looked for anything else unsavory.

We’re still investigating what happened, but as a prophylactic measure we’ve decided to force-reset all passwords on To use the forums, trac, or commit to a plugin or theme, you’ll need to reset your password to a new one. (Same for and

They also offer standard good advice:

As a user, make sure to never use the same password for two different services, and we encourage you not to reset your password to be the same as your old one.

Second, if you use AddThis, WPtouch, or W3 Total Cache and there’s a possibility you could have updated in the past day, make sure to visit your updates page and upgrade each to the latest version.

WordPress has had similar problems in the past, including an occasion when a fake “new” version was rolled out with a backdoor in it.

Meanwhile Dropbox, the digital locker service, has had to face the fact that it broke its own authentication system for four hours on Tuesday – which meant that anyone could log in to anyone else’s account. Dropbox says that it thinks only 1% of people logged into accounts in that time, though of course it doesn’t know if they were the ones who were meantto log in to them.

Many people might say “no harm done – all that’s happened is that someone might stick some files in your Dropbox.” Yes, or read them. Or, as someone suggested, stick a malware-infected file in. It’s a bad lapse for Dropbox. There’s enough hacking going on as it is without this.

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Ryan Cleary charged with LulzSec DDoS attack on SOCA and other websites

LulzSec without wine

The British 19-year-old arrested on Monday nightin connection with a series of internet attacks has been formally charged and is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.

Ryan Cleary, of Wickford, Essex, has been charged with offences under the Criminal Law Act and Computer Misuse Act by PCeU officers (Police Central e-Crime Unit).

The charges claim that he built a botnet to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks against the likes of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

There has been speculation in the media that Cleary might also have been involved in internet attacks by the LulzSec group against websites belonging to Sony and the CIA, but at the moment it appears he is being called to answer questions against British websites.

Cleary is is due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday. More details about the charges against him are available in apress release issued by the Metropolitan Police.

You may also wish to read a report from The Daily Telegraph, which contains some suggestions that Cleary has lead a troubled life.

Finding himself at the centre of a high profile cybercrime case is probably the last thing that he needed.

FBI announces international cyberbusts: scareware peddlers and malvertisers taken out

Twenty years ago, people used to ask, “Why do virus writers do it?”

That was a tricky question to answer, since there was often little motivation beyond notoriety – being recognised in the counterculture as a virus writer.

These days, you can explain virus writing Jeopardy-style instead. (Jeopardy is a back-to-front US game show in which the quizmaster gives an answer, and the contestants win by giving a question which produces it.) Like this: “To make lots of money online from victims all over the world with very little effort.”

Now, the question people usually ask is, “It seems so easy to be a cybercrook – why don’t the police do something about it?” One answer is that evidence can be tricky to acquire, and jurisidiction tricky to establish, when doing something about cybercrime. A crook in Belgium can defraud someone in Australia via a malicious advert served from China which tricks them into a credit card transaction in Canada processed by a server in Finland.

Despite the technical and legal hassles, the cops sometimes do get their man – or men. The US federal police force, the FBI, just announced some important international success against two cybergangs.

The operation, codenamed Trident Tribunal, lead both to arrests and to the significant disruption of their criminal operations.

The first cybergang was allegedlyresponsible for selling scareware, better known as fake anti-virus software. I’m sure you’re familiar with it: a popup advises you you’re at risk; then a ‘free scan’ finds a raft of ‘threats’; and a cleanup button offers to fix your woes. But the cleanup isn’t free. So you pay up, and the ‘threats’ are ‘removed’. For now, anyway.

The FBI estimates that this group tricked nearly a million people into buying its fraudulent software. With a price point from $50 to $130 (depending on how many ‘extras’ the victim gets talked into), this netted them over $72,000,000.

The second cybergang provided malvertising services. This is a technique which lets you sneak adverts for fraudulent services – notably, for scareware – onto respectable websites. The group allegedly created a fake advertising agency, and gave themselves a fake commission from a hotel chain to buy online ads in a Minneapolis newspaper. The ads were approved by the newspaper, but the fake agency ran malverts instead.

According to the FBI, it looks as though just two guys were able to make more than $2,000,000 in that scam.

Given the global scale of cybercrime, this may seem like a small victory for law enforcement. But it is a victory nevertheless.

The really good news here is that the anti-cybercrime operations above saw the successful co-operation of law enforcement teams in twelve countries: USA, Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, Netherlands, Cyprus, France, Sweden, Lithuania, Romania, Canada, and the UK.

Now we know the answers.

“Why do virus writers do it?” Sadly, because they can hope for revenues of about $75 per ‘sale’ by peddling an online sack of lies to one million ‘customers’.

“Why don’t the police do something about it?” Happily, they do.

Winklevoss Twins Give Up on Facebook Case

After years of litigation and multiple appeals, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have decided to take their cash and end their judicial crusade against Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg.

The twins, who became mainstream figures thanks to the success ofThe Social Network, accused Zuckerberg of stealing the idea and technology for Facebook when they were classmates at Harvard. The two sides settled in 2008 in a deal worth approximately $200 million today, but in the last year the twins have tried to appeal the settlement based on the claim Facebook and Zuckerberg defrauded them on the true value of Facebook stock.

The twins lost in an appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with the court declaring that, “at some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached.” The Winkelvii didn’t agree though, and theyappealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now, after “careful consideration,” the twins have decided to withdraw their appeal, according to Reuters.

We’re not surprised: the U.S. Supreme Court was extremely unlikely to even take their case, much less rule in their favor. We doubt this will be the last time we hear from the twins, though.

Here’s What Gunman Posted to Facebook During Standoff

Gunman Jason Valdez kept police at bay during a 16-hour standoff in Salt Lake City, Utah. All the while, Valdez was updating his public Facebook profile, keeping friends and family members current on his status, via mobile phone.

Valdez’s Facebook profile, still accessible on Facebook, lives to recount the odd tale. Friends, family members and strangers continue to post messages on his wall.

On Friday, June 17, Ogden police attempted to serve Valdez with a felony drug warrant after a missed court appearance. He then barricaded himself inside a hotel room and proceeded to update his Facebook profile as the situation developed.

Valdez posted six status updates — the first one posted Friday, June 17 at 10:23 p.m. and the last Saturday, June 18 at 6:25 a.m. The updates are included in chronological order below. Valdez also uploaded two photos of a female who police characterized as a hostage, and added a least a dozen new Facebook friends during the ordeal.

The standoff ended when police stormed the room and Valdez shot himself in the chest with a handgun. Valdez is reported to be in critical condition.MORE