Saturday, June 6, 2009

How safe are the tweets links?

Twitter is a popular and effective means of reaching out to the masses. It is the Internet equivalent of passing messages by word-of-mouth and a convenient tool for building your own network. How one goes about spreading information is through its 140 characters-limit "tweet". This could be a problem when attaching a lengthy URL. To counter that problem, a URL shortener comes into the picture. While a URL shortener is handy, it hides the actual URL leaving the recipient with no idea which website it is directing them to should they click. With that in mind, how safe is that link for the recipient?

The threats of Spyware, Trojan and Computer viruses are real on twitter. Just few days ago, a newest Twitter Worm “Best Video” is spreading. It is another classic example of how such tweets resemble the pattern on messengers and forwarded emails. Here are few points we can prevent ourselves from such mishaps.

Know who you are following.
The pros of twitter is you will not get tweet by anyone if you are not his/her follower. Getting followed is a good feeling and often enough we get followed by people we hardly know in person. Out of good will or formality, we follow them back. A rule of the thumb of safety is to know who you are following. Checking on his profile is a good start. See the content of his previous tweets to decide if that person is trustworthy. In the latest Twitter worm attack, the owner of an infected computer or account may not even be aware that a malicious tweet is automatically sent to all of his/her followers.

Know what you are clicking
Do not click any URL without knowing the owner and the proper content of the URL. If the description on the tweet is not enough for you to decide, you might want do some clarification before clicking. Honestly, "Best video" already looks fishy enough as it lacks the intent of conveying a personal message across.

As Twitter is widely used for leisure, people are likely to let their guard down in the hope of viewing videos or interesting stuff. However, in the age of the Internet, we are open to exploitation. We may end up putting our data on our PC at risk. Always be mindful to never to fall prey to such malicious attacks.

If you can think of other ways of prevention, please feel free to discuss! :)