If the people you follow on Twitter are anything like the ones I follow, the chances are you’ve had one or more direct messages recently reading something like this:
Hey.. somebody is saying real bad stuff about you ;/ [Followed by a link]
These are all fake messages. If you click the link a variety of bad things may be attempted, including sending on similar messages under your name to others and often also including things such as trying to infect your computer with a virus.
If you have, or think you may have, clicked on a dodgy link in a message like this, there are four remedial steps you should take:
- Change your Twitter password.
- Check the list of approved applications in Twitter. (Log in to Twitter.com, click on the drop down menu in the top right, select Settings and then Apps.) Sometimes a dodgy app is added to this list. If in doubt, you can err on the side of removing something as the worst that will happen if you wrongly remove a legit entry is that you will be prompted to login again when you are using the app in future.
- Make sure your computer’s anti-virus software is up-to-date. If it isn’t, update it and get it to scan your computer.
- Remember the lesson and don’t repeat the mistake.
Note: quite how these fake messages work varies from message to message. But if you follow steps 1, 2 and 3 you will be protected against all the permutations that have occurred so far.