In the spring of 2009, the popular social networking website Twitter was attacked by a worm known as “Mikeyy” or the “StalkDaily” worm. It all started on April 11th when a link began to find its way around Twitter user accounts. This link was being sent without users even knowing about it much less knowing what it was.
The link sent those who clicked on it to a website called StalkDaily.com. This website was advertised as a microblogging site in the Twitter posts the link showed up in. Once someone clicked on this link, their Twitter account would become infected and messages would then begin to send automatically to their own followers. In addition, an account could be infected with the worm if someone viewed the infected profile of someone else.
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With the millions of users on Twitter as well as the amount of activity around the world every minute, much less every hour, it is not difficult to understand that the “Mikeyy” worm spread rapidly throughout the system. In all, there were about four attacks on the Twitter system in a rather short period of time.
The worm itself was not dangerous to users or to Twitter. The links that were passed around by infected profiles simple encouraged Twitter followers to visit the StalkDaily website which was very similar to Twitter in its purpose and functionality.
Created by Michael Mooney who was 17 at the time, the issue of breaking into the Twitter system and potentially causing harm to millions of end-users computers came full force into the public eye. In fact, internet security professionals claimed that it would have been very easy for someone to modify the worm and use it to infect the computers of individuals instead of simply infecting their Twitter accounts.
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Twitter successfully got rid of the “Mikeyy” worm in a short period of time but the question of the website’s vulnerability to attack still remains. Many social networking sites face the same problem and other websites such as MySpace and Facebook have faced similar attacks in recent years. The problem comes with the open networking system and the ability for so many millions of users to share so much information with one another.
Another part of the problem comes from people trusting people they don’t know on theses websites and following recommended links of friends to unknown places on the internet. All of the websites, including Twitter, have great security but they will never be able to fully protect every user from the possibility of encountering dangerous viruses and worms. Users must be careful when following links and must stay aware of problems when they arise to protect themselves.