Twitter’s Red Carpet Era – Celebrities and Criminals

Posted by: Barracuda Labs As part of an ongoing effort to make the Web a safer place for both business and casual users, Barracuda Labs decided to take a deeper look at one of the Web’s fastest growing social networks, Twitter. We reviewed growth drivers, usage trends and the overall crime rate, analyzing both legitimate and malicious users for 2009. Today, we published our findings as part of our Barracuda Labs Annual Report.  This report revisits an analysis completed by the team in June 2009, following the launch of TweetGrade (, and coincides with recent accounts of Twitter’s explosive growth – reportedly reaching 50 million tweets per day. Our analysis is based on nearly 19 million Twitter accounts, in which we analyzed the frequency and content of tweets, user-to-user interactions, and each account’s overall activity level. The bottom line is this: users are more active on Twitter; more users joined Twitter in 2009 following a massive influx of celebrities to the site; and sure enough, the criminals followed the users in a forceful way causing the overall Twitter Crime Rate to spike. So let’s dig into the results… HOW PEOPLE ARE USING TWITTER Twitter Follower vs. Following Trends – What’s a True Twitter User? Notably, people are using Twitter more actively. For the purpose of this exercise, we define a True Twitter User as someone who has three main attributes: Has at least (≥) 10 followers Follows at least (≥) 10 people Has tweeted at least (≥) 10 times Interestingly, our study shows that only 21 percent of Twitter users fall within our definition parameters and are True Twitter Users. What do we mean by “more active” on Twitter? Essentially, this means that: Users are following more user accounts Users are being followed back by more user accounts and more often Users are tweeting more. Today, only 17 percent of Twitter users have zero followers, which is a 40 percent increase in the number of users that now have “more” followers (i.e. ≥ 10...

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5 Tips For Staying Safe In Social Networks

Posted by: Barracuda Labs In case you haven’t noticed, social networking sites are taking over the Internet. They receive the most traffic; they generate the most media attention, and let’s face it: they’re where all the cool kids are hanging out. Unfortunately, as these sites become more and more popular, they also become more and more attractive as targets for attackers. So what can you do to protect yourself from attackers? If you’re incredibly paranoid, you can just boycott all social networking sites (that’s what the Marines do). Or if that’s a little too extreme, you can always follow these five simple guidelines for protecting yourself in these environments: 1.) Don’t use “password” as your password. I know it’s easy to remember, but it’s also incredibly easy to guess. Instead, use a strong password with at least 8 characters that consists of numbers, mixed case letters, and special characters. Also, be sure to use a hard-to-guess password reset question (i.e., don’t end up like Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! account). 2.) Don’t use the same password at multiple sites. I realize this is somewhat inconvenient, but consider the alternative. If you use the same password at every site, what happens when one of your accounts is compromised? You guessed it: all of your accounts are compromised! Scary, right?! Now, go change your passwords!!! 3.) Don’t give your username and password to untrusted sites. Some legitimate sites will ask for your username and password (e.g., sites that support Facebook Connect), but you should always verify the trustworthiness of a site before you enter your credentials. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and avoid becoming yet another phishing victim. 4.) Don’t click on that! Never click on links from unknown users because they can lead you to any number of malicious destinations. Even if you trust the user, use caution because you never know when one of your friends has been compromised (not everyone reads this blog 😛 ). Also, be extremely careful with shortened...

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Twitter’s Dirty Little Secret

Jun 08, 09 Twitter’s Dirty Little Secret

Posted by in Research, Tweet Grade

Posted by: Barracuda Labs Today, we officially launched TweetGrade™ ( — a free, online ranking system for Twitter users. TweetGrade provides a quantitative assessment of a user’s reach and influence in the Twitter community, and it helps promote safety and establish order in an increasingly popular social networking environment. To create the intelligence that drives TweetGrade, we initially crawled more than 7 million Twitter user accounts and a sample of each account’s corresponding tweets. Then, we analyzed this data along a number of dimensions, including the frequency and content of tweets, user-to-user interactions, and each account’s overall activity level. Based on this analysis, we made a number of interesting observations about Twitter. First, a large percentage of Twitter users abandon their accounts almost immediately after they are created: 40% of Twitter users have not tweeted since their first day on Twitter (i.e., the account was most likely created and subsequently forgotten about). 25% of the users are not following anyone; more than 50% of the users are following less than 5 people, and 2/3 of the users are following less than 10 people. The figure below reiterates these numbers with a cumulative distribution graph for the Twitter population’s following habits. Twitter population’s following counts Second, Twitter is being used as a mass medium for receiving information as opposed to being used to interact with others. Basically, Twitter is more similar to an RSS feed than an email or IM system: More than 1/3 of Twitter users do not have any tweets, and almost 80% of the users have less than 10 tweets. The cumulative distribution graph for the Twitter population’s tweet counts is shown below. Twitter population’s tweet counts 30% of the users do not have any followers; 70% of the users have less than 5 followers, and 80% of the users have less than 10 followers. These findings are clearly shown in the following cumulative distribution graph for the Twitter population’s follower counts. Twitter population’s follower counts 50% of the users are following...

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