Phishing

Who’s Who phish

And here, I thought I was finally famous.  It’s so disappointing.

I got a “Weekly Follow-up from the National Academic Association.”  I suppose it doesn’t really matter that I’d never heard of them, let alone weekly, because it came from the “Academic Association.”

“Hello Candidate,” it starts, and goes on to tell me that “As the school year opens, the Who’s Who Among Executives and Professionals begin a global search for accomplished individuals in both faculty and administrative roles at post-secondary institutions of learning.”

Could this possibly be a job offer?  They apparently need me to “verify your contact information so that we can properly publish your updated credentials alongside 30,000 of your prestigious peers. Such a listing can only bring you increased visibility and networking opportunities within the scholastic community.”  Only 30,000!  Such a select group!

Alas, when I actually went to the site http://www.wittersphere.info/YM40/53/1338/710177.1/4/13295/1600293/3O80?gy=?qqu06/vc/ld-99505.g78 (tested with a safe browser, but it doesn’t actually seem to be feeding malware) it turned out to be the “International Association of Successful Individuals.”  Therefore, I don’t qualify, but no doubt a number of you do, so I’m letting you know  :-)

Amex clueless about security–so what else is new?

American Express is, as far as I know, alone among major financial institutions (for large values of “major”) in sending out phish-like messages.  Pretty much every other bank has gotten the message: don’t send email to your customers, and alert them that if they receive email, it’s not from you.

(I’m still getting those messages, by the way.  Ironically, it’s because I don’t want them.  If I want to tell Amex to turn them off, the only way I can do that is to register to receive them.  Explain to me the logic underlying that process …)

Amex is also alone in not providing an email account to which you can send phishing messages.  I guess Amex doesn’t want to do any more takedowns than they absolutely have to.

As a security pro, I’ve got contacts; personal contacts; in many major banks and financial institutions.  These are people who work in phishing and malware takedowns, and I’ve encountered them in the course of my research into same over the years.  I’ve never come across anyone from Amex.  I’ve never had anyone from Amex in any of my seminars.

So, it is no great surprise that when a researcher recently found a gaping hole in Amex security, he had a very hard time letting Amex know about it.

RSA APT thoughts

By now people are starting to hear that RSA has been hit with an attack.  Reports are vague at best, and we have very little idea how this may affect RSA customers and security in general.  But I’d like to opine about a few points.

First, we, in the profession of information security, are still not taking malware seriously enough.  Oh, sure, most people are running antivirus software.  But we don’t really study and understand the topic.  Malware gets extremely short shrift in any general security textbook.  Sometimes it isn’t mentioned at all.  Sometimes the descriptions are still based on those long-ago days when boot-sector infectors ruled the earth.  (Interesting to see that they are coming back again, in the form of Autorun and Autoplay, but that’s simply another aspect of Slade’s Law of Computer History.)  Malware has gradually grown from an almost academic issue to a pervasive presence in the computing environment.  It’s the boiling frog situation: the rise in threat has been gradual enough that we haven’t noticed it.

Second, we aren’t taking security awareness seriously enough.  These types of attacks rely primarily on social engineering and malware.  Security awareness works marvelously well as a protection against both.  RSA is a security corporation: they’ve got all kinds of smart people who know about security.  But they’ve also got lots of admin and marketing people who haven’t been given basic training in the security front lines.  For a number of years I have been promoting the idea that corporations should be providing security awareness training.  Not just to their employees, but to the general public.  For free.  I propose that this is not just a gesture of goodwill or advertising for the companies, but that it actually helps to improve their overall security.  In the modern computing (and interconnected communications) environment, making sure somebody else knows more about security means that there is less chance that you are going to be hit.

(Third, I really hate that “APT” term.  “Advanced Persistent Threat” is pretty meaningless, and actually hides what is going on.  Yes, I know that it is embarrassing to have to admit that you have been tricked by social engineering [which is, itself, only a fancy word for “lying”] and tricked badly enough that somebody actually got you to run a virus or trojan on yourself.  It’s so last millennium.  But it’s the truth, and dressing it up in a stylish new term doesn’t make it any less so.)

IEEE eCrime Researchers Summit 2010

The fifth IEEE eCrime Researchers Summit 2010 (http://ecrimeresearch.org) will be held in conjunction with the 2010 APWG General Meeting between October 18-20, 2010 at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.

Topics of interest include:

* Phishing, rogue-AV, pharming, click-fraud, crimeware, extortion and emerging attacks.
* Technical, legal, political, social and psychological aspects of fraud and fraud prevention.
* Malware, botnets, ecriminal/phishing gangs and collaboration, or money laundering.
* Techniques to assess the risks and yields of attacks and the success rates of countermeasures.
* Delivery techniques, including spam, voice mail and rank manipulation; and countermeasures.
* Spoofing of different types, and applications to fraud.
* Techniques to avoid detection, tracking and takedown; and ways to block such techniques.
* Honeypot design, data mining, and forensic aspects of fraud prevention.
* Design and evaluation of user interfaces in the context of fraud and network security.
* Best practices related to digital forensics tools and techniques, investigative procedures, and evidence acquisition, handling and preservation.

Important dates: (11:59pm US EDT)
Full paper and RIP (Research in Progress) paper submissions due: June 30, 2010
Paper notification: Aug 1, 2010
Poster submissions due: August 29, 2010
Poster notifications: September 5, 2010
Conference: October 18-20, 2010
Camera ready due: October 27, 2010

For more information on the submission process, visit
http://www.ecrimeresearch.org/2010/cfp.html

T-Mobile phishing camp

Cory Doctorow shares his experience of being ‘phished’. I had a similar experience, only in reverse.

As I’m waiting to board a flight, my phone rings and someone claiming to be a T-Mobile rep is on the other side.

“You’ve been using your phone a lot” she says

Yes, I spent a week in China and the roaming charges are especially high there.

“Well, you are over $2,000 in your phone bill”

Well, thanks for letting me know. When the bill comes I will be happy to pay it.

“No, you need to pay it now; it is higher than your monthly average and we need to collect the payment outside your monthly billing cycle”

Fine. I will call the billing center once I get back to the office tomorrow

“No, you need to pay it now”

I am just about to board the plane. Call me in 3 hours when I land.

“Sorry, I need to collect a payment or we will suspend the account”

Fine. Bill me. You have my credit card details on file.

“No, we need you to provide them again as proof that you are ok’ing the billing”

Hmm… This is beginning to sound like the most unsophisticated phishing attack ever. You need my credit card details? Now? Can’t wait? Ok. Give me your number and I will call you right back and give you my CC.

“This line is for outbound calls only. There is no direct number back to me”

No problem – I will call the t-mobile 800 number and ask for your department.

“They cannot transfer you to me”

Then how do I know you’re a real T-mobile rep and not someone out to get my credit card number?

“Well, how else would I have known your charges this month were especially high?”

At this point I burst out laughing and since boarding is about to end I give her my full credit card details. VISA will take the loss on that one, but who will save me from the embarrassment of ‘securiteam blogger falls victim to the most amateurish phishing attack in history”?
I land, and log online to my t-mobile account, and am shocked to see a bill of $2,500 that is marked as paid. It really was T-Mobile.

Somewhere in Eastern Europe some guy is telling his boss: “Sergei, you’ll never believe this. The fake training material we planted at T-Mobile are actually being used. They are teaching their customers to be phished!”.

Phishing camp indeed.

Some issue at Yahoo??? Your accounts can be deleted…

I received a mail stating that there are some congestions in Yahoo-accounts service and hence they will be closing down unused accounts. They wanted me to send them few of my personal details. If I fail to do so my account will be discontinued. Who will want their account to be discontinued which they have been using for a long time? So should I send them my details? The mail which I received was:

——————————————————————————–

From:”Yahoo-account-services”
To:undisclosed-recipients
Due to the congestion in all Yahoo-accounts, Yahoo! would shut down all unused
accounts. In order to avoid the deactivation of your account, you will have to confirm your e-mail by
FILL-IN  your Login Info below by clicking the reply button. The personal information requested are
for the safety of your Yahoo! account. Please LEAVE all information requested.

 

Your Username:——————— ——-
Your Password::——————– ——–
Your Date Of Birth:———————— –
Your Occupation:——————- ———
Your Country Of Residence:—————-
After you must have followed the instructions in the sheet, your Yahoo! account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thank you for your usual co-operation. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Yahoo! Customer Care

——————————————————————————————————–
Well many innocent people may fall to prey and end up sharing their personal information along with their login credentials.

You should understand that no mail service provider or any bank or any legitimate site will ask for your login credentials (username & password) on mail nor will direct you to any site which would collect the same.However there are sites which would ask you to log into the site else your id would be temporarily disabled. This is the part their policy which requires users to log into the site atleast once in a month or 3 months or so. But even they will not ask your personal info. They will simply require you to log into their site.

Such type of mails are called phishing mails & the people behind it are called phishers. You should understand the difference between a legitimate site/mail & a phishing one.

Tips for the day are:

1. Bookmark your financial/banking sites.

2. Prefer typing web address in URL rather than clicking on any suspicious link.

3. Always remember your banking sites or any other site will never ask for your personal information. But if you strongly feel the mail may be legitimate but don’t want to take any chances, simply call up their support desk for any clarification. Also remember to refer to help line number from their site rather than dialing the  number mentioned on the suspicious mail.

4. Also check the source of mail generation. Well this can be easily spoofed easily but in few cases, they don’t when they expect the victim to reply back the mail like in my case. Even if the phisher has spoofed the name as Yahoo-account-services, the email id remains ACfalcon@aol.com. Think why would yahoo send you such mails through AOL or with such ids like ACfalcon.
There are few sites available online which can help you  understand the difference between a legitimate & phishing site. Some of my favorites are http://www.sonicwall.com/phishing/index.html & http://www.uakron.edu/its/learning/training/Phishing.php

Have a happy phishing free life!!! 😀

Anti-Phishing Working Group: CeCOS IV

The Anti-Phishing Working Group has asked its members to publicize the forthcoming Counter eCrime Operations Summit in Brazil, which I’m pleased to do. Apologies to those who will have come across this elsewhere, including some of my other blogs.

This year the APWG is hosting it’s fourth annual Counter eCrime Operations Summit (CeCOS IV) on May 11, 12 & 13 in São Paulo, Brazil. The Discounted Early Bird Registration rate will end on April 9th. Do not miss this opportunity to join our host CERT.br with APWG Members from around the globe at this one of a kind event. Counter-eCrime professionals will meet for sessions and discussion panels that look into case studies of organizations under attack and deliver narratives of successful trans-national forensic cooperation.

This is APWG’s first visit to South America and will help build our network of trusted friends worldwide. The discounted registration rate of $250 USD covers all three days of content, lunch, breaks and the Wednesday night reception. (NOTE: APWG Members will receive an additional discount during registration) This “Early Bird” rate will end on April 9th, after that through the beginning of the event on 11 May registration is $325 USD.

A partial agenda is posted at the link below. Translation services for English, Spanish and Portuguese will be available for all session.

http://www.apwg.org/events/2010_opSummit.html#agenda

Register Here:

http://secure.lenos.com/lenos/antiphishing/cecos2010/

David Harley FBCS CITP CISSP
Security Author/Consultant at Small Blue-Green World
Chief Operations Officer, AVIEN
ESET Research Fellow & Director of Malware Intelligence

Also blogging at:
http://avien.net/blog
http://www.eset.com/blog
http://blogs.securiteam.com
http://blog.isc2.org/
http://dharley.wordpress.com
http://macvirus.com

Is it phish, or is it Amex?

I am a bit freaked.

Last month I received an email message from American Express.  I very nearly deleted it unread: it was obviously phish, right?  (I was teaching in Toronto that week, so I had even more reason to turf it unread rather than look at it.)

However, since I do have an Amex card, I decided to at least have a look at it, and possibly try and find some way to send it to them.  So I looked at it.

And promptly freaked out.

The phishers had my card number.  (Or, at least, the last five digits of it.)  They knew the due date of my statement.  The knew the balance amount of my last statement.

(The fact that this was all happening while I am aware from home wasn’t making me feel any more comfortable with it …)

So I had a look at the headers.  And couldn’t find a single thing indicating that this wasn’t from American Express.

(I had paid my bill before I left.  Or, at least, I *thought* I had.  So I checked my bank.  Sure enough, that balance had been paid a couple of days before.  However, I guess banks never actually transfer money on the weekend or something …)

A couple of days later I got another message: Amex was telling me that my payment was received.  That’s nice of them.  They were once again sending, in an unencrypted email message, the last five digits of my card number, and the last balance paid on my account.

Well, I figured that it might have been an experiment, and that they’d probably realize the error of their ways, and I didn’t necessarily need to point this out.  Apparently I was wrong on all counts, since I got another reminder message today.

Are these people completely unaware of the existence and risk of phishing?  Are they so totally ignorant of online security that they are encouraging their customers to be looking for legitimate email from a financial institution, thus increasing the risk of deception and fraud?

Going to their Website, I notice that there is now an “Account Alerts” function.  It may have been there for a while: I don’t know, since I’ve never used it.  Since I’ve never used it, I assume it was populated by default when they created it.  It seems to, by default, send you a payment due notice a week before the deadline, a payment received notice when payment is received, and a notice when you approach your credit limit.  (Fortunately, someone had the good sense not to automatically populate the option that sends you your statement balance every week.)  These options may be useful to some people.  But they should be options: they shouldn’t be sending a bunch of information about everybody’s account, in the clear, by default.

(There are, of course, “Terms and Conditions” applicable to this service, which basically say, as usual, that Amex isn’t responsible for much of anything, have warned you, and that you take all the risks arising from this function.  I find this heavily ironic, since I knew nothing of the service, don’t want it, and got it automatically.  I never even knew the “Terms and Conditions” existed, but in order to turn the service off I’ll have to read them.)

(In trying to send a copy of this to Amex, I note that their Website only lists phone and snailmail as contact options, you aren’t supposed to be able to send them email.)