Twitter under attack by 'mouseover bug'

Twitter came under attack on Tuesday as hackers exploited a security flaw to wreak havoc on the microblogging service.

Computer security firms said thousands of users, or more, were affected by the bug, which automatically sent out or "re-tweeted" messages from a user's account simply by rolling over an infected link with the computer mouse.

The San Francisco-based Twitter said on its status blog that it had patched the security problem at 6:50 am California time (1350 GMT).

But not before thousands of users saw bizarre strings of computer code in their incoming message feed and inadvertently passed them on to other users in their list of followers.

Those hit by the bug included Sarah Brown, the wife of the former British prime minister who has over 1.1 million followers on Twitter, and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who has 97,000 followers.

"My Twitter went haywire - absolutely no clue why it sent that message or even what it is... paging the tech guys," Gibbs wrote on @presssec.

"This Twitter feed has something very odd going on," Brown said on @sarahbrownuk.

"Don't know what everyone else got, but my bug sent me an advert for a weight loss program - as if that would work!" she joked.

Security expert Graham Cluley of computer security firm Sophos said the "mouseover bug" only affected users of the Twitter.com website not third-party programs developed to access the popular microblogging service.

Cluley said the bug was activated by rolling over an infected message with a mouse and that a user did not have to click on a Web link to pass it on, as is the case with many hacking attacks.

Some users found that rolling over an infected link caused third-party websites to open in their Web browser including pornography sites, he said..

Cluley said in Sarah Brown's case her "Twitter page has been messed with in an attempt to redirect visitors to a hardcore porn site based in Japan."

"It looks like many users are currently using the flaw for fun and games," he said.

"But there is obviously the potential for cybercriminals to redirect users to third-party websites containing malicious code, or for spam advertising pop-ups to be displayed," the Sophos computer security expert said.

The infected links looked like regular Twitter messages, or "tweets," but contained lines of random computer code or were completely blacked out like a message that has been redacted.

Twitter, which allows users to pepper one another with messages of 140 characters or less, has over 145 million registered users, co-founder Evan Williams said recently.

About 370,000 people are signing up daily for Twitter, and users fire off more than 90 million tweets each day, according to Williams.

Twitter unveiled a major redesign of its website a week ago that is being slowly rolled out to users of the service across the globe.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Front End Developer (AngularJS, JavaScript, TDD, AJAX) London

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

    Junior DBA (SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSAS) London - Finance

    £30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...

    Oil & Energy Business Anaylst

    £45000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Harrington Sta...

    UI Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, Visualisation)

    £35000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: UI Developer (HTML5, C...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment