March 08, 2010

SocialToo Expands Twitter Phishing Protection to All Users

Increased use of Twitter has made the users sharing and clicking on links more attractive to both legitimate businesses and ill intended people looking to steal passwords or guide you to unsavory sites. Seemingly each week there are new stories about phishing attempts that prey on direct messages (DMs) from trusted people, and if compromised, these accounts could lead to more spam, just spreading the mess further. SocialToo, a company led by Jesse Stay, and one where I am an advisor, has opted to take a proactive approach to enable phishing protection for all users, not just those with a premium setup, or those who had manually enabled filters themselves. The result is a much-improved, and safer, Twitter environment.

The move, as outlined in Jesse's post from this morning, means that anybody who has ever created a SocialToo account, even a free one, is protected from receiving direct messages that contain known phishing attempts.

Prior to today's move, SocialToo had already blocked nearly 20,000 malicious messages, just on the 2,000 users who had enabled the feature, an average of about 10 per user. With phishing protection now enabled for 60,000+ accounts, the volume should similarly scale thirty-fold.

Over the time Jesse has been working on SocialToo, there have been multiple instances where his application has publicly noted phishing attempts faster than any official word from Twitter, or the press covering Twitter. Rather than leverage this opportunity to extract money from users, we agreed it made more sense to do the right thing and get these protections out to the much wider audience.

"As has always been a priority, we feel keeping your stream clean and the web in general a cleaner place is important," he writes. "Hopefully this makes a significant change in how clean the streams of Twitter users are."

As an advisor, and as a SocialToo user, I have had phishing protection enabled on my account for quite some time, and the coverage of such attacks almost catches me amused, as I never see the ill-intended direct messages targeting my mail box. In fact, SocialToo tells me more than 140 direct messages to me have already been filtered, automatically.

I believe that using Twitter without having SocialToo enabled would be as silly as running a Windows computer without having antivirus enabled. Even if you won't convert to the premium plans offered by SocialToo, you should set up an account to get your Twitter messages protected.

DISCLOSURE: I am an unpaid advisor to SocialToo. I hold a small equity stake in the company.

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