A single network of over 80,000 Twitter accounts sent a staggering 8.5 million tweets in the last handful of months that linked to spammy dating and hook-up websites, security researchers have discovered.
Security firm Zero Fox discovered the network of tweets using their computer vision and natural language processing algorithms, that look for patterns in tweets that would suggest that they are part of this spam botnet, a botnet that Zero Fox has dubbed SIREN.
The name SIREN comes from Greek mythology – the Greek Sirens would lure wayward sailors to their doom with their seductive cries.
Zero Fox has claimed this is one of the largest spam campaigns every conducted on social media.
Over 8.5 million tweets were sent out in only a few months and they all linked to sex and hook-up affiliate websites. These are websites that claim to offer various free adult services before forwarding you to spammy sex related websites that are certainly not free.
Zero Fox published the various phrases and patterns these tweets took, which you can see below. The first sentence was a seductive exclamation designed to attract the attention of the reader and the second sentence asking the reader to click a link. In all cases the link was a shortened Google URL redirector.
The links were clicked on a staggering 30 million times. It is safe to assume that at least a few of those clicking ended up handing over their payment details to these spammy websites.
Many of these adult websites were also related to a spam email campaign that also claimed to offer free adult services but again then forwarded visitors to spammy not free adult websites. After Zero Fox notified Twitter about the tweets, most of them have been removed.
Adult related spam is one of the most oldest variants of digital spam there is, yet large scale spam campaigns like this demonstrate that it is clearly very successful. So for all those clicking spammy links on social media looking for… erm… free services… just don’t.