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Twitter Attack Using onmouseover Shows Why I Hate Mouse Overs

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This morning Twitter users who went to the Twitter.com page (as opposed to using a 3rd party Twitter client) found that it was really easy to fall prey to an exploit that took advantage of something that is all too common on so many sites, using onmouseover to trigger an action. In this case the exploit threw up rainbow tweets, redirected users to porn sites and started an automatic re-tweeting frenzy. I fell victim to it myself. Given that this comes when Twitter is making a push with its new features that are aimed at increasing traffic to its site over the traffic generated by 3rd party clients, you have to say this was timed pretty well. Even though Twitter hasn’t rolled out the new website features yet, many are checking the website to see when they do roll out.

I’ve always found the whole mouse over thing annoying. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Your cursor passes over a link and you get ads, video, etc…  taking over your screen. To my mind it is an advertising technique that gives advertising a bad name. It is almost impossible to avoid, which I’m sure makes it attractive to advertisers because I’m sure those actions generated by a mouse over register somehow as an eyeball that can be charged for. Quite honestly, when it happens on a website I’m visiting, I find it just as distasteful as any sort of attack, except for the potential damages of course, and in many cases, I just don’t go there anymore.

Hopefully this will all get straightened out shortly, and also, hopefully, it might provoke some discussion about the whole mouse over thing.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

2 Comments

  1. Mickey Segal

    09/22/2010 at 5:16 am

    The twitter episode has turned out to be very interesting, with the problem originating with a 17 year old tweeting that he was able to execute JavaScript code from a tweet:
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ge3h0IevMgVuQ0h2yxwKgnGZ7vfw

  2. Alix

    12/19/2010 at 6:27 pm

    Mouseover is indeed the most annoyin part of surfing the web. Even a mouseove menu that deploys when you did not intend to click on it. Browsers should give the option of disabling mouseover if possible

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