Scammers are increasingly using machine-generated Twitter accounts to post messages about trendy topics, and tempt users into clicking on a link that leads to servers hosting fake Windows antivirus software, security researchers said Monday.

The latest Twitter attacks originated with malicious accounts cranked out by software, said experts at both F-Secure and Sophos. The accounts, which use variable account and user names, supposedly represent U.S. Twitter users. In some cases, the background wallpaper is customized for each account, yet another tactic to make the unwary think that a real person is responsible for the content.

Tweets from those accounts are also automatically generated, said Sean Sullivan, a security advisor with the North American labs of Helsinki-based F-Secure. Some of the tweets exploit Twitter's current "Trending Topics," the constantly-changing top 10 list of popular tweet keywords that the micro-blogging service posts on its home page. Others are repeats of real tweets.

All the tweets include links to sites that try to dupe users into downloading and installing bogus security software, often called "scareware" because they fool users with sham infection warnings, then provide endless pop-ups until people pay $40 to $50 to buy the useless program.

Full story: Computerworld