Security experts identified and analyzed a large Stars Wars botnet that is made up of 350 000 hosts hooked on the Twitter social network.
Powerful Stars Wars Botnet Available on Twitter
Security experts discovered a large and rather dangerous botnet available on the Twitter social network. The infected hosts recruited into it post various quotes from the Stars Wars franchise. This has led to its name which is dubbed as the Star Wars Botnet.
According to the research the individual bots are controlled via the Twitter client for the Windows Phone mobile operating system. The team who initiated the research into it is made up of Juan Echeverria and Shi Zhou from the University College in London. According to them this botnet is non-benign as it does not spread malware at the moment. It merely sends out spam messages. Such networks are also used to manipulate the public opinion and sold on various hacker markets for profit. In addition the researchers point out that astroturfing attacks are also initiated by such botnets. These are large-scale campaigns that create a fake sense of agreement among Twitter users. In these messages the main sponsor of the hidden which makes it seems as it originates from the social media community itself.
The botnet generates tweets that include references and quotes from the Star Wars franchise along wit hashtags that are associated with earning new followers or symbols that are placed in front of randomly chosen words. An interesting fact about the threat is the individual profiles tweet random quotations from novels therefore posing as real humans. Most of them even have photos as profile pictures to present themselves as more genuine. They do not include URLS in their tweets, do not reply or mention any users and only follow a small number of other users. These are the distinct characteristics that the researchers discovered about the Star Wars botnet.
Its discovery was done thanks to the fact that the tweets were location-tagged. The researchers found out that the botnet was deliberately designed to remain low-profile. As it gains more bots it can be used to carry malware samples as well. The team concludes with the following: “The fact that the Star Wars botnet has so many bots makes its potential threats serious, perhaps more serious than we have ever seen before“.
For more information you can access the original research paper titled “The ‘Star Wars’ botnet with >350k Twitter bots“.