Feeds

Fake Vint Cerf tweets link spam on Twitter

'I get so much electronic chatter as it is', Cerf tells El Reg

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A Twitter account in the name of internet luminary Vint Cerf has been suspended after miscreants abused it to send link spam.

The @cerf account Cerf himself established with the micro blogging service last month was used to push auction search sites, according to a ZDNet security blog story.

Really? Actually no - it's a fake profile, as Cerf himself confirms.

Circumstantial evidence suggested that the account was set up by unidentified impersonators. A search on Twitter reveals that few plausible looking updates were sent last month before the account began pumping out link spam. A few days of this resulted in the automatic suspension of the account.

A stock statement by Twitter explains: "Sorry, the account you were headed to has been suspended due to strange activity. Mosey along now, nothing to see here."

We've emailed Cerf directly and he confirmed the profile was the work of imposters.

"I did not register the account so apparently someone else did; this was called to my attention and apparently to Twitter's by a colleague here at Google and subsequently the account was suspended and then, it seems, removed," Cerf told El Reg, adding that he's too busy to bother with Twitter.

"I get so much electronic chatter as it is, I didn't think I needed additional Twitter inputs so I did not register. The fact that it is easy to impersonate anyone you wish in email, Twitter and other accounts is obvious and I suppose we might give some thought as to how one could establish bona fides that a stranger could use to determine the validity of such accounts," he writes.

Impersonators on Twitter are nothing new. A buzz went around the micro-blogging community when @tonybenn joined last month but it quickly emerged that the updates pushed through the profile were from a supporter and not the respected left-wing former Labour cabinet minister.

Genuine celebrities on Twitter include tech enthusiast Stephen Fry (@stephenfry); Robert Llewellyn (@bobbyllew), who played Kryten on Red Dwarf, and Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry (@MichelleDewbs). Staffers of President elect Barack Obama maintained an account (@BarackObama) during his successful White House run but that profile has fallen silent since his election.

We know these profiles are genuine because of links from their established webpages or similar evidence. Twitter itself performs little or no checks beyond asking for an email address, before allowing anyone to post updates under what might very-well be an assumed pseudo-identity.

The one thing that rang true in this curious tale Cerf's impersonation (at least prior to his email) was the idea that the tech visionary is interested in Twitter as a technology.

Cerf, whose role as one of the founding fathers of internet technology will be familiar to Reg readers, is currently chief internet evangelist at Google, selected Twitter co-founder Biz Stone as one of the net visionaries to quiz on the future of the interweb when he guest-edited a Guardian column in December 2007. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.