Spammers target Snapchat, Bitly and Kik Messenger
Bitly is working with Symantec to clean up malicious links, the result of API keys left visible on the Web
IDG News Service - You have to give spammers credit for effort: Symantec found a spam campaign that manages to abuse three Web services at the same time.
It starts on Snapchat, where some users receive an unsolicited photo message asking the person to add a contact as a friend on Kik Messenger, an instant messaging application, wrote Satnam Narang, a security response manager at Symantec, on a company blog.
Snapchat apologized on Monday for spam problems, saying it was the consequence of a fast-growing service. It recommended that users only allowed their approved friends to send them photos rather than receive unsolicited ones.
Narang wrote that if the spammy contact is added on Kik, a spam "bot," or a program designed to automatically chat with contacts, would send some canned text and a link shortened by Bitly. The links lead to sites trying to sign up users for adult webcam entertainment.
Part of the spammy Bitly links may look familiar.
"Spammers have found a way to create their own links using branded short domains in order to entice users into a false sense of security," he wrote.
Symantec found Bitly links generated using customs domains owned by brands and companies such as USA Today, National Geographic, the New York Post, Red Hat and MIT News, among others.
Custom domains can be registered with Bitly, which then appends a unique identifier on the end of the shortened URL that leads a person to its full content. The spammers abused the custom domains through an API (application programming interface) configuration problem, which left the API key visible.
"Bitly has confirmed that some spammers obtained Bitly API keys belonging to various brands," Narang wrote.
Bitly wrote in an email to IDG News Service that it was working with Symantec on the problem and pointed to its API best practices guide. Because of similar problems, the AddThis social bookmarking service also stopped requiring its users to reveal their API key in plain text as part of its code embedded in a website.
"Public exposure of API keys gives anybody the ability to compromise accounts and, in this case, create short URLs using other people's domains," Narang wrote.
Send news tips and comments to email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast Best Practices: How to Improve Business Continuity with Virtualization VMware solutions include a range of business continuity capabilities to help ensure availability for applications across your virtualized environment. Learn More>>
- Live Webcast
Transforming Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain Effectiveness with Cross-Functional Analytics
Date: May 6th, 2014
Time: 1 PM EDT
Attend this Webcast to find out how Oracle's packaged analytic applications enable line-of-business managers to examine all...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Security White Papers | Webcasts