Hackers have found a way to use Twitter direct messages to control botnets

Jack DorseySCOTT EISEN/BLOOMBERGTwitter CEO Jack Dorsey looking pensive.

Twitter has made life easier for those who own, and run, botnets, The Register reports.

Researcher Paul Amar has discovered that using Twitter’s Direct Message function — which, as of August, is no longer limited to 140 characters — can be an easy and effective way to control a botnet.

A botnet is a group of compromised (or hacked) computers that are controlled by one individual, usually without the PC owner’s knowledge. The botnet owner can then use it to perform tasks, such as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) hacking attack which overloads a server with web traffic.

According to Paul, commanding and controlling a botnet via DM looks — to Twitter, at least — very similar to a normal conversation between two humans. This makes the botnet hard to find for Twitter. Botnets are usually controlled via complicated software and so using Twitter is a novel idea.

Twitter does look out for unusual activity on accounts (you can’t, for example, tweet the exact same thing twice) and so Paul limits each account to 100 direct messages per day. Twitter recently won a lawsuit against those who use direct messages to spam users.

Business Insider contacted Twitter for comment on this article and will update if it responds.

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