Week in review 5 December 2014

Week in review 5 December 2014

MailShark welcomed aboard clients from Brazil this week. Our clients from Brazil join an ever-growing list of clients worldwide, from Chicago, Illinois to Sweden, from Hong Kong to Sydney, Australia. You can see a graphic of our customers on our “About Us” page. In other news, our website will be getting a revamp; we expect to launch a new, improved version next week.

Security News

Its Christmas time and attackers are jumping on the bandwagon. Sadly, they aren’t really delivering goodwill and peace on Earth. When they are not inflicting CryptoLocker on PCs, they are stealing user details such as login credentials and/or credit cards. This week we saw a distinct upsurge in phishing emails targeting bank customers, retail customers, and PayPal users. Following is a re-run of what we saw this week.

ANZ Customers targeted with phishing emails

And we started the week with emails supposedly from ANZ bank. The emails were fairly realistic and featured an attachment that was called a “decoder”. The recipient was informed they required said “decoder” to enable them to view a statement. The statement (the email informs the user) is encrypted for security. In reality, the email was designed to direct users to a phishing site, where criminals could extract the victim’s login credentials and credit card details. The decoder was (we suspect) a form of ransomware.

Woolworths voucher scam

Woolworths was the second item that cropped up this week. In this scam, an email informs the recipient that they can win a voucher (to the value of $150) if they answer a simple question. The victim then is directed to a site where they have to supply a few simple details to identify themselves, including full name and address and credit card details. The email is bogus, but the tactic used by the scammers does follow closely those used by legitimate marketing organisations, where free vouchers are used to induce users to fill out surveys.

Phishing emails targeting NAB customers

NAB customers were targeted this week with a scam that informed users that their banking details needed updating. The penalty for not updating the details, so the email says, is that the internet banking of the user will be suspended. It sounds plausible in some ways, except that the email does not address the recipient by his/her name. Emails from banks are always personalised. Mousing over links shows that they are bogus links; however, the subject matter of the email could pressure people into clicking before checking. The site pointed to in the email is a phishing site.

Warning on PayPal phishing emails

PayPal state on their website that they do place restrictions from time to time on accounts; one reason being when they need to verify a user identity. With this in mind, criminals have crafted an email phish stating the PayPal just needs to check on the identity of the user. The links given go to a phishing site. Once again, this phish is designed to extract credit card numbers from unwitting victims.

Coles survey email is a phish

In one of the crueller email scams (they are all cruel of course; this one just adds an extra twist in) recipients of a hoax Coles voucher fill in a survey, supply various pieces of personal information, and get to print out a voucher for $50. Of course the voucher is not valid, but sadly, some people have been caught out. Worse still is that the scam captures credit card numbers, which have (in some cases) been used fraudulently. Once again, the scammers have aped legitimate marketing tactics in an attempt to lure people to phishing sites.

Your payment was cancelled: insufficient funds

Yet another email playing on a sense of urgency came out this week. This time the email purported to be from Westpac, and announced that the recipient has had a payment rejected. The email provided links to enable the user to login and check their account, however, the links were to a site that might have looked legitimate, but was in fact bogus.

In summary

The examples of emails given this week were all quarantined in the MailShark email filter. There has been a distinct upswing in the volume of phishing emails this week. Take extra care when receiving unsolicited emails. Check the grammar, mouse over the links; verify that it really is from who it says it is. Don’t download attachments or follow links unless you are completely sure they are legitimate. Remember that banks will personalise emails to you, so anything not personally addressing you should raise suspicions.

Scott Reeves
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