UK's Energy secretary falls victim to Twitter phishing scam

21:47, February 26, 2010      

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Britain's Energy secretary Ed Miliband has become the latest victim of a new "phishing" scam on Twitter today.

Many of the Energy Secretary's 6,664 followers on the micro-blogging social network would have been surprised to receive an unusually personal message from him at breakfast time. "Hhey, i've been having better sex and longer with this here", said the "tweet" alongside a picture of a smiling Miliband.

The message was followed by a link to another website. It was swiftly followed by a genuine "tweet" from Ed Miliband, who wrote, "Oh dear it seems like I've fallen victim to twitter's latest 'phishing' scam."

Miliband was not the only person from Britain's parliament to find bizarre messages being sent from their Twitter accounts. On Thursday the Leader of the Commons Harriet Harman told MPs that her account had without her knowledge sent a tweet to a surprised shadow prisons minister Alan Duncan. Ms Harman did not say what was in the bogus message, but sent MPs' imaginations racing when she told them, "I wouldn't ever sent a tweet like that." Alan Duncan later wrote on his Twitter page, "I did get a message in Harriet's name, so I sent a friendly message back by text. A bit confusing, and all in my first week on Twitter."

Falkirk MP Eric Joyce was one of many people at Westminster puzzled by messages they were receiving. He sent out a - genuine - tweet to say, "Something odd happening on Twitter. Getting spam messages from folk but not from them. Not exactly hacking, I think. Hope Twitter's on 2 it." Several journalists have also apparently been victim to the phishing scams. Some correspondents have been contacted by friends asking why they had claimed to be "24, female and horny" in direct messages sent to them via Twitter.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Janet Anderson has urged the Government to look into an organization which had apparently set up "fake" Twitter accounts in the names of all North West MPs.

Ed Miliband and his colleagues were not the only victims of the latest phishing attacks to hit Twitter. Thousands of Twitter users have seen their accounts hijacked according to reports. Among more prominent victims are the Press Complaints Commission, the BBC correspondent Nick Higham and the Guardian's head of audio Matt Wells.

The purpose of the attacks, which began early on Thursday morning, is initially to draw people to the sites that hijack their accounts, and possibly install malware able to steal passwords on the user's computer. Another purpose may be simple identity theft since many people use the same passwords and usernames on multiple services. As such, obtaining access to one service may provide access to others.

Source: Xinhuanet/Agencies
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