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Luckily, none of the links tweeted by the SIREN botnet appear to contain malware, nor were any associated with phishing attempts.

But with more than 30 million clicks, the discovery reveals what a threat such an operation could be if the goal were shifted slightly to include, for example, the spread of ransomware.

Likewise, many of the "dating" websites are themselves scams, chiefly comprised of fake female profiles which encourage visitors to sign up for paid subscriptions with promises of lame cybersex and nudes.

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The 90,000 accounts were all created using roughly the same formula: A profile picture of a stereotypically attractive young woman whose tweets included sexually suggestive, poorly written remarks that invite users to "meet" with them for a "sex chat".

Millions of users apparently fell for the ruse and, presumably, a small fraction of went on to provide their payment card information to the pornographic websites they were lured to.

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A "large chunk" of the accounts' self-declared languages were Russian, Zero FOX reports, and approximately 12.5 per cent of the bot names contained letters from the Cyrillic alphabet.

"To our knowledge, the botnet is one of the largest malicious campaigns ever recorded on a social network," Zero Fox concludes.

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Zero FOX's research into SIREN offers a rare glimpse into how efficient scammers have become at bypassing Twitter's anti-spam techniques.

415 Comments

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