Many users of micro-blogging website Twitter have inadvertently shared personal information via a new trending topic.
The topic, named ‘Twitterpornnames', based on a popular drinking game, encourages users to reveal the name of their first pet and the street they grew up to create their ‘porn name', that they are then sharing on Twitter.
However industry experts have warned users not to give out their personal details and claimed that the trend, which has been running through most of today, is a scam engineered to steal people's details.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, claimed that by revealing such personal details, ‘thousands of people are potentially making life easy for identity thieves eager to mine information from the micro-blogging website'.
Cluley said: “The problem is that many sites (such as web email providers) may ask you what the name of your first pet was if you ever forget your password and wish to reset it. So, a hacker could grab details like your pet's name to try and crack into your email account.
Meanwhile, Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at Trend Micro, claimed that he was not sure if it was ‘conceived as a phishing scheme at the outset or as a reinvention of the playground/pub conversation', but believed that any disclosure of personal information is unwise.
Ferguson said: “The fact remains, giving out things like your mother's maiden name, name of your first pet, the street you grew up on is a very bad idea. Giving them out online in a public forum that is indexed by search engines is even [worse].
“This sort of information is gold dust to those people who have an interest in breaking into your online accounts through resetting the passwords. Next trend? #Twitterluckynumbers post your credit card number, CVV and expiry date.”
Cluley further advised people to lie when giving out personal information, whether via networking or when completing a registration, and to consider deliberately misspelling words for passwords.
“Although Twitter has warned people not to post personal details to the #Twitterpornnames, or indeed elsewhere on Twitter, it seems there is little that can be done to persuade some people”, said Cluley.
In an update, Ferguson said that he had spoke to the ‘man behind the hashtag' who is called PembsDave. He said: “It genuinely was set up as a fun thing to do and of course become a ‘trend' - but Chinese whispers changed it. Okay ‘proper' porn name is pets name + [mother's] maiden name but I felt that was too personal - hence head teacher.”