A Scottish Power Twitter account was hacked this morning to usher customers into the clutches of web miscreants.
Many of the 2,000-plus followers of the UK utility's @SP_EnergyPeople feed received malicious direct messages tempting them to visit a phishing website designed to harvest Twitter login details.
Scottish Power quickly regained control of its account, which is used to answer customer queries, and restored service to normal. It apologised for the security snafu, which coincides with the celebration of Burns Night* north of the border.
"Seems like a lot of hacked accounts last night. Apologies once again, passwords etc have all been reset and #twitter have been notified," it said.
Corporate Twitter accounts can be hijacked or joyridden in a number of ways: easily guessable passwords an allow mischief-makers to compromise feeds or staff could fall victim to a phishing attack, for example. Account takeovers on Twitter can be used to lure web surfers into identity-theft websites or promote diet pill scams, both of which have become "very common", a researcher at security biz Sophos told El Reg. ®
"The spammed Tweets include a bit.ly URI which directs users to a phish site masquerading as Twitter," explained Sophos researcher Fraser Howard. "Bit.ly have already blocked the URI, and so any users now following that link will see the bitly block page," he added. ®
* A celebration of the life of 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns - generally consisting of traditional music and dance, poetry recitals and often a slap-up dinner.
Thanks to Reg Reader Paul M for the tip.