Vitalik Buterin’s appeal to remove Twitter scambots in vain? Researchers unearth 15k crypto-related bots
The growing crypto-related scambots on Twitter has been the reason of concern for the crypto world for quite some time. In fact, from CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buetrin pointed out the same, with the latter appealing to Twitter founder to help the community to fight against the same. However, things might not have changed much as researchers recently found a network of 15k crypto-related scambots on Twitter.
Last month when Musk commented on scambots, Vitalik wrote, “I do wish @elonmusk’s first tweet about ethereum was about the tech rather than the twitter scambots……..@jack help us please? Or someone from the ETH community make a layer 2 scam filtering solution, please?”
The new research published on August 6 highlights on the crypto-related scambots on Twitter advertising fake “giveaways”. Researchers revealed a network of at least 15,000 scam bots. The analysis was done by cybersecurity company Duo Security.
88 million public Twitter accounts were collected and analysed from May to July 2018. It consisted of over half-a-billion tweets. Researchers used the latest 200 tweets from each user and found a network of 15,000 bots impersonating crypto personalities and spreading fake competitions.
The scammers impersonate people like Litecoin’s Charlie Lee, Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin and Binance exchange’s Changpeng Zhao. These so-called “token giveaway” schemes can generally be found right under the celebrity’s tweet. The only way to identify them is by their twitter handle. But sometimes, this proves to be difficult too as the scammers choose a handle that closely resembles the original one. In fact, Vitalik Buterin has changed his Twitter user-name to “Vitalik “Not giving away ETH” Buterin”.
“Users are likely to trust a tweet more or less depending on how many times it’s been retweeted or liked. Those behind this particular botnet know this, and have designed it to exploit this very tendency,” Duo data scientist Olabode Anise said in a press release.
Researchers also found that the bots are also actively avoiding being shut down. “The bots’ attempts to thwart detection demonstrate the importance of analyzing an account holistically, including the metadata around the content,” Anise continued, “For example, bot accounts will typically tweet in short bursts, causing the average time between tweets to be very low. Documenting these patterns of behavior can also be used to identify other malicious and spam botnets.”
Twitter responds to crypto scambots
Responding to the research, a Twitter spokesperson said, “Twitter is aware of this form of manipulation and is proactively implementing a number of detections to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner. Spam and certain forms of automation are against Twitter’s rules.”
Further added, “In many cases, spammy content is hidden on Twitter on the basis of automated detections. When spammy content is hidden on Twitter from areas like search and conversations, that may not affect its availability via the API. This means certain types of spam may be visible via Twitter’s API even if it is not visible on Twitter itself. Less than 5% of Twitter accounts are spam-related.”
Image via Shutterstock
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