Technology

IT hopeful blames phishing woes on political foes

The Queensland opposition's information technology spokeswoman has been ridiculed for blaming her political opponents after she fell for a global Twitter phishing scam.

Shadow ICT minister Ros Bates clicked on a link she received from a “trusted friend” alongside the message: “This made me laugh so hard when i saw this about you lol”.

Ros Bates' Twitter account reposted the phishing scam after she clicked on the link.
Ros Bates' Twitter account reposted the phishing scam after she clicked on the link. 

Her Twitter account subsequently sent out the same message to her followers alongside a link, designed to allow spammers to gain access to more victims' accounts to send out more spam.

Similar messages have been circulating around Twitter around the world for months, but the latest version has appeared over the past few days and has been widespread.

Shadow ICT minister Ros Bates's apology.
Shadow ICT minister Ros Bates's apology. 

Ms Bates apologised to her followers on Monday, but today maintained she had been the victim of her political foes.

“I don't believe it was a coincidence that my website, Facebook and Twitter have all been hacked over the last few months,” she told brisbanetimes.com.au.

Asked why she thought her political opponents may be behind the Twitter attack, Ms Bates said several anti-LNP users had posted tweets about her spam messages before she realised what had happened.

“I find it very sinister that ALP apparatchiks had already started to comment on this issue before I'd even been aware of the issue,” she said.

“Let's be clear about what's going on here. I'm not going to be distracted from my job.”

Queensland ICT Minister Simon Finn said the claims of a political stitch-up were “laughable”.

“Ms Bates states that she clicked on a link from a trusted friend,” he said in a statement.

“She trusted that source, entered her own login details and has been scammed as a result.

“Yet now she's trying to blame the government for her own ineptitude.

“It is totally laughable to suggest that a global phishing attack is related to a 2012 election campaign in Queensland.”

Mr Finn said users who clicked on dubious links were vulnerable to having their Twitter accounts hijacked and “a basic understanding of Twitter would help most people avoid such situations”.

“Only someone with no idea about technology, or a buckpasser playing petty politics, would try to shift blame to the government,” he said.

Ms Bates said Mr Finn's criticism of her was a case of “the pot calling the kettle black”, given Labor presided over numerous ICT bungles including the health payroll debacle that cost $220 million to fix.

And this afternoon she dismissed Mr Finn's claim that she had entered her account details after clicking the link. She said the account was taken over after she clicked the link.

This afternoon, Labor MP Kate Jones tweeted that she had also been hacked.

“I know the LNP script is to say everything is a Labor smear ATM [at the moment] but my account got hacked to [sic] & I didnt jump to conspiracy theories,” Ms Jones wrote.

In some types of phishing attacks, users are asked to enter their Twitter login details or authorise an application to use their Twitter account before the spam messages are sent out.

Queensland Fraud and Corporate Crime Group Detective Superintendent Brian Hay said people should be wary of links they receive via Twitter, Facebook or email, and never surrender their account details.

“Often the best use of criminal technology involves the element of human behaviour, curiosity, fear or opportunity,” he said.

Superintendent Hay said phishing attacks – which attempt to trick people into typing in their account login details – were rarely targeted specifically at an individual.

“They can definitely be specifically targeted [but] I would suggest the bulk are very much a broad-spread attack,” he said.

twitter This reporter is on Twitter: @danielhurstbne

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