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Guy Kawasaki's Tweet Gone Wild

Guy Kawasaki
Source: Guy Kawasaki
Uh-oh. Well, with all the good news about how Twitter is helping Iranians voice their dissent over the legitimacy of the recent election results, perhaps it was inevitable the dark side of the microblogging site was revealed.

Noted industry figure Guy Kawasaki was the apparent victim in a scheme to spread malware using his Twitter account. A link in his Twitter feed, purported to lead to a sex tape featuring Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester, appeared as the result of leaving his feed open to "user generated" stories, he said.

But Kawasaki denied initial reports that his Twitter account had been hacked.

He said he was using an RSS feed from NowPublic that he thought was moderated, but wasn't -- and someone compromised the feed.

"Nothing was hacked," Kawasaki told InternetNews.com. "Someone succeeded in putting spam into a feed I happened to post to Twitter."

He said NowPublic effectively corralled the link, which had asked users to download a codec to properly view the video, but in fact, downloaded malware.

"They made it a password-protected page, so it was only active less than an hour," he said.

"None of this is Twitter's fault," he added. "I could have shoved that RSS feed into anything, like Google Reader or elsewhere, and the same thing would have happened"

In an e-mail, Kawasaki joked to the Cult of Mac Web site that: "My short career as a pornographer lasted 45 minutes. :-)"

Malware threats

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant for Web security firm Sophos, said that however long the link was active, it represented a real danger.

Clicking on the link and downloading what's listed as a required codec, would in fact enable a Mac Trojan virus known as OSX/Jahlav-C.

"The fact that the post was published on Guy Kawasaki's Twitter account (which has almost 140,000 followers) is particularly worrying," Cluley said in a blog post. "I wonder how many people might have thought it was worth the risk of clicking on the link if there was a chance of watching a free Leighton Meester sex video."

Cluley noted Sophos first reported other instances of hackers spreading the Jahlav-C Trojan horse via an X-rated lure to Mac users a few weeks ago.

"The worry is that many Mac users are not running any antivirus protection -- something maybe they need to reconsider," Cluley said.

"Don't forget, Twitter isn't scanning the links which it points people to," he added. "It's your job to make sure you're protected every time you click on a link."

Cluley also said that both Mac and Windows are at risk as the malware can detect what operating system is being used. Once installed on a computer, Trojans typically are used remotely to distribute spam or enable other security problems.