Pinterest Experiences Spam Attack

| Topic : Security and Compliance

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Pinterest, the social photo-sharing service, was recently the target of a significant spam attack, leading to privacy protection concerns for the company.

On Saturday, spammers began to post an onslaught of pictures, many of which were advertisements for products from Best Buy. As several technology experts have concluded, it seems that the spammers intended to use Pinterest's high rate of customer referrals as a means of drawing attention to certain products. Modea, a technology and branding agency, released an infographic indicating that Pinterest has a higher referral traffic percentage than Google +, Youtube and LinkedIn combined. Furthermore, that same infographic points out that over a quarter of all Pinterest users have household incomes above $100,000.

These factors make Pinterest a prized tool for retailers. Forbes recently declared that Pinterest trumps Facebook in the realm of social commerce, comparing the photo-sharing service to a popular arts-and-crafts fair.

However, these same traits which have made Pinterest so valuable to marketers may have also made it a target for spammers. According to GigaOm, one of the first to report on the incident, the cyberattack was achieved by using a "spam-exploit injected javascript code."

While many Pinterest users were irritated by the onslaught of advertisements, many others were more troubled by an apparent lack of privacy protection. Most of the spammers posted their images while posing as legitimate users, co-opting these users' accounts for promotional purposes. Making matters worse, the spammers were able to remove the "edit" button from a number of the advertisements, which effectively prevented users from deleting them.

As WebProNews notes, Pinterest's organization makes it particularly susceptible to spam-based attacks. Whereas Facebook and other social media sites only provide connections between users who know and approve of one another, Pinterest shows users the "pins" of random individuals. Consequently, it can be difficult to identify the actual source of spam.

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