First Direct bank in the UK has been the first British bank to embrace Twitter. Does that really surprise anyone? As a 100% online bank, they’ve maintained a business pace a few clicks ahead of competitors in online services.

But last weekend their clients and colleagues got a little surprise. First Direct’s Twitter account was duped, sending direct messages – the Twitter equivalent to short emails – to contacts. What’s more? These weren’t just any direct messages – they were pornographic. I don’t think that boosted their image of professionalism. The direct messages sent out tantalizing links, and upon clicking, users were asked to login to Twitter. Of course, it was a phishing attack where the users were actually divulging their password to hackers.

The next day First Direct sent out a series of tweets that did little to allay fears – they mentioned twice that they’d been hacked, then tried to reassure clients that only the Twitter account had been hacked – not the bank – and that no user passwords were involved.

UK Bank Twitter Account is Compromised

The Register reader Paul Eagles comments in Twitter style of 140 characters or less: “Let’s hope they are more secure with their banking systems than their twitter account,” he writes. Here’s the deal. This attack phished bank users and convinced them to give away their passwords for Twitter. The problem is that a large number of users have the same passwords for all their accounts, giving hackers potential access to more than just Twitter accounts.

So, a note to all users on all platforms. If a link sent to you looks suspect, it probably is. Clicking on it is unwise, and entering any information about yourself is plain foolishness. Your bank won’t send you porn. I promise.