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Twitter porn bots drew in over 30 million clicks

For the past few months ZeroFOX, a social media-focused digital security company, has been looking into a massive pornogrophy botnet targeting Twitter. Dubbed SIREN, after the mythical Greek creatures said to lure sailors to their deaths with song, the botnet campaign reportedly included around 90,000 accounts that produced over 8.5 million tweets.

Each of the associated accounts had a pretty typical set up. Their profiles featured a photo of a woman and a female display name and tweets from these accounts nearly always included a sexually explicit phrase, followed by an exclamation point and an additional phrase meant to get targets to click the shortened URL at the end of the tweet. Once a user clicked on the link, they would be taken through a series of redirects before finally landing on a website that encouraged them to sign up for subscription pornography, webcam sites or fake dating webpages. SIREN accounts were able to attract over 30 million clicks.

ZeroFOX suggests that those behind the SIREN accounts were likely located in Eastern Europe due to many of the accounts’ user languages being set to Russian and a chunk of the display names containing cyrillic letters. It also noted that the tweets’ phrasing was often written in poor English. Some examples include “I want to fondle me?” and “Boys like you, my figure?” which sound a lot like the silly pickup lines produced by neural networks, but dirtier.

Last week, ZeroFOX reportedly submitted all of the SIREN Twitter profiles and URLs to Twitter, which then removed the accounts from the site and blacklisted the URL domains. “To our knowledge, the botnet is one of the largest malicious campaigns ever recorded on a social network,” ZeroFOX said in a blog post. Twitter hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

[Image: ZeroFOX]

Source: ZeroFOX

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UK drone rules will require you to take safety tests

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US officials might be easing up on drone regulations, but their UK counterparts are pushing forward. The British government has instituted rules that require you to not only register any robotic aircraft weighing over 250g (0.55lbs), but to take a "safety awareness" test to prove you understand the drone code. Regulators hope that this will lead to fewer drones flying over airports and otherwise causing havoc in British skies. Not that they're taking any chances -- the UK is also planning wider use of geofencing to prevent drones from flying into dangerous airspace.

The new rules come following a study highlighting the dangers of wayward drones. A smaller drone isn't necessarily safer than its larger alternatives, for example -- many of those more compact models have exposed rotors that can do a lot of damage. A drone weighing around 400 g (0.88lbs) can crack the windscreen of a helicopter, while all but the heaviest drones will have trouble cracking the windscreen of an airliner (and then only at speeds you'd expect beyond the airport). While you might not cause as much chaos as some have feared, you could still create a disaster using a compact drone.

It's nothing new to register drones, of course, and it doesn't appear to have dampened enthusiasm in the US. The test adds a wrinkle, though: how willing are you to buy a drone if you know you'll have to take a quiz? The test likely won't slow sales too much, if at all, but it could give people one more reason to pause before buying a drone on impulse. Manufacturers appear to be in favor of the new rulebook, at any rate -- DJI tells the BBC that the UK is striving for a "reasonable" solution that balances safety with a recognition of the advantages that drones can bring to public life.

Source: Gov.uk (1), (2)

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