Researchers have discovered a simple-to-use program that can be used to send botnet commands from Twitter.
The builder tool, dubbed Trojan.Twebot by Symantec, allows the creator to construct a copy of the trojan and specify a particular Twitter account to be associated with it.
If users are hit with the trojan, the malware will run silently on the victim’s machine until the Twitter account being used distributes an instruction, such as “DOWNLOAD” or “.DDOS (distributed denial-of-service),” according to Symantec, which posted a video to illustrate how the threat works.
“Once done, an executable file is created that will keep an eye on the named Twitter account for a series of commands used to infect, download [and] attack with DDoS and even kill the connection between [the] bot-and-command channel,” Chris Boyd, senior threat researcher at Sunbelt Software, who first discovered the tool, said in a Thursday blog post.
What may make the the new tool particularly attractive is that it allows attackers to send instructions remotely, through means such as mobile Twitter applications.
But Boyd said there are some reasons the threat may not become all that widespread.
“[T]his doesn’t work if the person controlling the bots attempts to hide their commands with a private Twitter page,” he said. “The bots will just flail aimlessly as they wonder where their master has gone.”
In addition, Twitter security staff can likely can easily track down offenders.
This is not the first time Twitter has been used as a command-and-control hub.