Feeds

Fake Vint Cerf tweets link spam on Twitter

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

SANS - Survey on application security programs

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.