Last year, as Twitter attracted more users, the rates of cybercrime rose concurrently. Phishing scams in particular greatly increased on the popular microblogging site. These attacks typically involve cybercriminals breaking into personal accounts in order to send direct messages to the victims’ networks, knowing that their friends are more likely to click on messages from a trusted source.
In addition to Twitter’s rise to prominence, the increase in malicious attacks also stemmed from the use of shortened URLs. Since Twitter users must succinctly craft their updates in 140 words or less, it became common practice to shorten URLs (the series of characters that correspond to a website) through services like TinyURL or Bit.ly when including a link in a post. These services masked the original URL, making it harder for users to detect potentially dangerous sites.
On March 10 Twitter launched a new link-screening service as a way to combat phishing scams. Additionally, Twitter will use its own URL shortening service, which will appear as twt.tl. The site already fights phishing attacks by monitoring affected accounts and resetting passwords.
According to a blog post written by the Director of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Team, this new development protects users from bad links and harmful attacks: “By routing all links submitted to Twitter through this new service, we can detect, intercept, and prevent the spread of bad links across all of Twitter. Even if a bad link is already sent out in an email notification and somebody clicks on it, we’ll be able to keep that user safe.” (Read the entire blog post here).