Silhouettes
Photograph by Getty Images

Russian hackers use Twitter to cover their tracks

Jul 29, 2015

Russian hackers have figured out a way to use Twitter to communicate with malware that's infected target computers, allowing them to cover their tracks while making their way into confidential government computer systems.

The hackers upload special images to the social media site that stealthily transmit directions to installed malware that can then steal files or other unwanted actions, reported the Financial Times. The advantage of this approach is that targeted computer systems don't register the intrusion. It looks like just another Tweet.

The cybersecurity firm FireEye (feye) released a report on the trick and labeled it "Hammertoss." The attack method was "designed so that defenders can neither detect nor characterize its activity," wrote FireEye, which says there's a "high" chance that Russian hackers are behind Hammertoss.

"The weaponization of social media is a growing threat," Stuart Poole-Robb, chief executive of the business intelligence group KCS, told the FT. "It's an easy way of passing information to malware that's hard to detect."

Read more at the Financial Times (paywall).

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions