February 21, 2012

Twitter To Reach 500 Million Users Any Minute Now?

Carl Leonard Principal Security Analyst

There have been reports from several sources that Twitter is fast approaching the milestone of 500 million users.  We take a look at what this could mean for us all and take a reflective look back on some of the issues that Twitter users have faced over the years. 

What does that figure mean to us?

  • This number of Twitter users is 60% more than the population of the United States of America (according to the U.S. Census Bureau).
  • That figure is 8 times the population of the United Kingdom.
  • The approximate human population of Earth in 1550 AD was 500 million. 

Of course, not all Twitter users are who they claim to be.

You are probably familiar with seeing a picture of an attractive individual gracing your follower list and then realizing that the follower is just trying to pass off suspect medication. The abuse of Twitter by spammers and bot networks is nothing new and something we have seen in Websense® Security Labs™ for several years now. Over the past few years, we have seen bot networks take their instruction from generated Twitter users. We have also seen website compromises on a massive scale using Twitter trending topics to generate the malicious domain they contact next. 

Malware authors and spammers jump on social networks in the hope that they can quickly spread their wares: 500 million users, 200 million users, even 100 million users provide the scale and network connectivity to do exactly this. 

Here are some of the not-so-high Twitter highlights of the last 5 years:


Is there any hope?

Behind every cloud is a silver lining and Twitter is no exception.  Our Websense Social Web Controls as well as our ThreatSeeker® Network can help to limit the exposure from threats on social networks. You can find out more onwww.websense.com


From bread bakers to candlestick makers, from celebrities to pharmacists, 500 million users/spammers/bots have turned to Twitter to share their lives and engage in 140-character exchanges with others. Have you?




Carl Leonard

Principal Security Analyst

Carl Leonard is a Principal Security Analyst within Forcepoint X-Labs. He is responsible for enhancing threat protection and threat monitoring technologies at Forcepoint, in collaboration with the company’s global Labs teams. Focusing on protecting companies against the latest cyberattacks that...

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About Forcepoint

Forcepoint is the leading user and data protection cybersecurity company, entrusted to safeguard organizations while driving digital transformation and growth. Our solutions adapt in real-time to how people interact with data, providing secure access while enabling employees to create value.