Target is the latest company to be victimized

The company became a target for a simple but effective Twitter-Bitcoin scam.  The scam is about as straightforward as it gets:  A tweet gets sent out by a well-respected brand or prominent individual.  It contains a link which is likely to be clicked on, given that it's from a prominent individual or well-respected brand.

The page at the other end of the link contains instructions that amount to a lot of hoop jumping. However, the verbiage makes it sound like if you send the company or prominent individual a small amount of Bitcoin, you'll wind up getting a larger amount back.  Of course, that part isn't true, but a shocking percentage of people have fallen for it anyway.  In fact, when hackers took control of Target's Twitter account for an hour and a half recently, the tweet and link they sent out netted them nearly forty thousand dollars.  Not bad for an hour and a half's worth of work.

How much is Twitter to blame

For their part, Target deleted the tweet once they realized what had occurred, changed their password, and sent out an apology. Truth be told, this is as much Twitter's issue as it is Target's.

When the hackers sent out the tweet via Target's account, they posted it as an ad so they could pay to promote it, ensuring even more exposure.  In order for it to be approved in that form, however, someone at Twitter would have had to review and manually approve it.  While it's true that the responsibility for the password lies with Target, given how common this scam is becoming, the Twitter staff should have caught it, but didn't.

Our perspective

In any case, this incident contains a couple of good lessons. It pays to be mindful of the latest scam making the rounds if you use Twitter for marketing.

The author

Thanks for reading this short post. For more tips on thriving with small business technology, check out the other blog posts at DWPia Blogs. I am also available at dwpia on LinkedIn, at dwpia on Facebook, and @dwpia on Twitter.

Cybersecurity Expert, Small Business Technology Consultant, Managed Services Provider, Managed IT Support

Denis S Wilson

I am President and Principal Consultant for DWP Information Architects: specializing in managed IT support for smaller healthcare practices, clinics, insurance companies, law firms, and construction companies in Ventura County and San Fernando Valley. And have created cost-effective IT solutions, for over 20 years, specializing in cybersecurity and regulatory compliance.

I am also a published author and speaker, working extensively with organizations that include: the State of California, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE, Women's Business Centers, and Small Business Development Centers. As well as providing small business technology education programs through business and professional associations.

Contact me if you would like me to speak at your meeting.

Meanwhile, check out this report

Executive Report: 10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business