Tag Archives: phishing

Phishing ..Christmas..a time for taking?

phishing-alertThere I was, at my desk on Monday morning, preoccupied with getting everything done before the Christmas break, and doing about 3 things at once (or trying to).  An email hit my inbox with the subject “your account information has been changed”.  Because I regularly update all my passwords, I’m used to these kinds of emails arriving from different companies – sometimes to remind me that I’ve logged in on this or that device, or to tell me that my password has been changed, and to check that I the person who actually changed it.

As I hadn’t updated any passwords for a couple of days, I was rather intrigued to see who had sent the email, and I immediately  opened it.  It was from Apple to say I’d added an email as a rescue email to my Apple ID.

apple-email

Well that sounded wrong, so I clicked on the link to ‘Verify Now’ and was taken to a page that looked pretty legitimate.

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I thought I should see what was actually going on, so I logged in to my Apple ID using my previous password.  If I had been in any doubt, the fact that it accepted my out-of-date password made it very clear that this was a scam.

The site asked me to continue inputting my data.  At the top of the pages are my name and address details.  It’s also, for the first time, telling me that my account is suspended – always a hacker’s trick to get you worried and filling in information too quickly to think about what you’re actually doing.

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Then the site starts to request credit card details and bank details …

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And finally my date of birth so they can steal my identity, and a mobile number so that they can send me scam texts.

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I know seven other people who received exactly the same email. And it’s just too easy to fall for, so any number of people could be waking up tomorrow with their identity stolen, and bank account and credit cards stripped of all money or credit.

With that in mind, here are some things to look out for in phishy (see what I did there) emails:

  1. Check the email address the email came from! If it looks wrong – it probably is!
  2. Hover your mouse over the links in the email to see where they take you. If this email had really been Apple it would have gone to an https:\\ address, at apple.co.uk
  3. Check grammatical errors in the text of the letter

Now if you do fall for an email as well executed as this, and if I’m completely honest, I’m shocked at how close to a real Apple email and website they looked, make sure you notify your bank and credit card companies immediately.  Change all of your passwords as soon as possible because if you use the same log in combination for any other accounts those could be targeted next.

Christmas has always been a time for giving.  Now it’s become the prime time for taking.

charlotte-seymour-2016

 

Written by Charlotte Seymour, 22nd December 2016

Data Compliant’s Weekly Round Up

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This week has been a bit hectic when it comes to data breaches and news. We started off with Snoopers’ Charter being passed, then we heard that Deliveroo had been hacked and many of its customers had been paying for someone else’s dinner after passwords were stolen from another business.

We heard of yet another colossal hack – mobile network Three had been infiltrated by 3 hackers dotted all over the country now putting two thirds of the 9,000,000 Three customers at risk. The hackers accessed the upgrade system using an employee log in and were able to intercept the new phones before they reached the customers that the hackers had upgraded. Could this be an insider threat? Although Three can confirm no financial data was appropriated the information that was obtainable were things like names, telephone numbers, addresses and date of birth all of which is classed as personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act. It’s all very handy data for criminals to steal someone’s identity.

Police are investigating Broxtowe Borough Council after an email containing allegations about someone’s conduct was sent to all staff members (730 people in total) in which they were told about in September. The ICO have said they are not going to take any action.

Hatchimals
Hatchimals are the latest craze with the kids these days and I bet they’re on everyone’s Christmas wish list. For those who don’t know what Hatchimals are, they’re Furby-like toys inside an egg that the child has to nurture until it hatches. Once hatched the toy will learn how to speak from it’s owner – so I’m told by my overly eager nephew. However due to these toys being so popular, scammers are out in force and are taking to social media to encourage loving parents to hand over more than double what these toys are going for. Once the scammers have got the money, the parents are then blocked and never hear from them again. Sometimes over £100 worse off. These toys are out of stock in every retailer that sells children’s toys in the UK so if there is an ad online, on social media, or in an email saying they’re still available and better yet – they’re on sale, don’t be fooled, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday
I would imagine due to it being Black Friday this Friday (25th November) and cyber Monday on the 28th fake adverts and phishing emails are going to be on the rise this week and most of next week too. Although it is sad to think that hackers take to this time of year to steal from loving friends and family to earn themselves a bit of extra money, it does unfortunately happen every year. Now some of these hacks are easy to spot, it just takes a bit of common sense, however they are also getting more and more sophisticated and harder to recognise.

Last year UK consumers spent £2 billion in 24 hours online and in stores on Black Friday and £3.3billion over the whole weekend. Predictions this year are even higher than the last. So if you’re anything like me and are planning to get home from work, make yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up and do your Black Friday shopping online, here are some hints and tips for you to stay safe this weekend.

  • Make sure the websites you are visiting have https: at the front of the URL. The s actually stands for secure! Who knew?
  • If you receive any emails from your bank, paypal or anything asking you to confirm your payment details with a link to click on to do so, hover your mouse over the link to see what the URL is, if it isn’t the company’s name .com/.co.uk etc it’s a scam.
  • Look at the email address you receive an email from, is that the company’s name?
  • Use strong passwords, and different passwords for each log in (this is how many people got stung with Deliveroo as they used the same password for their account with them and with other websites and apps).
  • Read the websites privacy policy before handing over all of your sensitive information. These are legally binding and have to inform you of what the company plans to do with your data.

I could go on and on but these main 5 steps should keep you fairly safe this weekend. Don’t be put off by the minority of people who do wish to scam you into handing over all of your money. There are some good people (and even better bargains) out there, so happy shopping!

charlotte-seymour-2016
Written by Charlotte Seymour – 25th November 2016.

Data Security – Phishing

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45% of phishing attacks are successful, according to Google’s December 2014 report.   Indeed, the infamous 2013 Target data breach was due to a successful spear phishing attack on one of the company’s suppliers. The reported cost to the business was a massive $162M plus additional expenses resulting from class action lawsuits and reputational damage.

Many data breaches are a direct result of the attacker using individuals or employees to access systems or data, and it’s worth noting that 58% of large organisations and a third of SMEs fall prey to staff-related data breaches (*UK 2014 Information Security Breaches Survey).

With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to summarise some points to help recognise and deal with phishing emails.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a deceptive means of trying to acquire personal information such as your identity or data that you hold and access – for example your user name, passwords, credit card details, contact directories and so on.  Phishing is typically carried out by email or instant message, which may ask you to provide the data directly, or it may send you to a website or phone number where you will be asked to provide data.

Why Phishing Works

A phishing effort can be hard to recognise, particularly if it comes from a source that you are inclined to trust – for example a friend or colleague (who may have been phished themselves), or your bank, social media site, telephone provider etc.

  • Phishing emails are designed to look like real emails from real, sometimes large, reputable organisations.
  • They are likely to seem to come from an organisation or individual you know and would expect to hear from – for example your bank or building society, your insurer, a business with whom you are in regular contact, your social networking sites, an online auction site or even a friend whose email sits in your address book
  • They may look absolutely authentic, including using legitimate logos
  • They may well contain information that you would not expect a scammer to know – for example personal data (that they may, for example, have picked up from one of your social networking sites)
  • They may include links to websites which will require you to enter personal information – and that website may also look very similar to the legitimate website it is pretending to be.

How to spot a phishing email

There are ways to recognise and avoid being caught out by fraudulent emails or the links they contain.

  • Are you expecting the email you’ve just received? Any email which asks you for personal information or log in details or to verify your account must be treated with caution – most reputable companies will never ask for your personal details in an email
  • Don’t be pressured just because the email looks urgent
  • Beware of attachments – these may pretend to be an order summary or an invoice for immediate payment or a receipt or any manner of other things.  If you haven’t placed an order, or your bill is already paid, then be careful.   If in doubt, simply do not open the attachment.
  • Check the email’s spelling, grammar and formatting – if they’re not correct, treat the email as suspicious
  • Never respond to an email that asks you to update your credit card or payment details
  • Watch out for free giveaways with links to websites – it’s likely that such websites will attempt to embed a virus into your computer which allows them to  capture your keystrokes to get your login details or financial details such as your bank account

How to spot a phishing link?

Such links are likely to include all or part of the legitimate website address.

  • Be aware than any change to the legitimate address may lead to a false website – a spelling mistake, a missing letter – just one character’s difference can take you somewhere you just don’t want to go,
  • It is generally safer to go to the online website using your own bookmarks or by typing in the website address yourself
  • Where a website link is provided, it may be “masked” so that what you see will not take you where you expect.  Using your mouse to “hover” your cursor over the link may enable you to see the actual address – DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINK unless or until you are completely certain it is the legitimate website

Protect against phishing

Being aware and understanding how to spot a potential phishing effort is helpful, but additional steps should be taken to protect your computer and system against such attacks.  There is no single solution – the best option is to adopt a multi-layered approach:

  • Good security software will help to prevent successful phishing by spotting “bad” links and blocking fake websites.
  • While not providing all-encompassing protection, anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware applications should be used, and kept up-to-date. Ensure that at least two different supplier technologies are in operation.
  • Ensure that all firewall settings should be used and updated regularly to help prevent phishing and block attacks.
  • Subscribe to cyber-intelligence services which may be used to identify on-line threats, misrepresentations, or online fraud’s targeting brands – for example, RSA or Verisign
  • Ensure that applications and operating systems are up-to-date and fully patched

What to do if you have opened a phishing email

Just opening the email is unlikely to cause a problem.  However, it is helpful to report phishing emails:

  • To the ISP (internet service provider) that was used to send you the email so that ISP provider can close the sender’s email account
  • If “report spam” buttons are available, use them
  • Report the email to the legitimate organisation the sender is pretending to be
  • Delete the email from your device
  • Inform your IT department and / or your data protection / data compliance / data security officer
  • Report the phishing email to Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre – at https://reportlite.actionfraud.police.uk/

What to do if you click on a phishing link

  • Immediately run a virus check on your computer whether or not you have provided any personal details
  • Change your password for organisation which the phisher is mimicking
  • If you use the same password for multiple accounts, you need to change all these passwords too
  • Notify the relevant financial organisation(s) if you have entered banking or credit card information
  • Inform your IT department and / or your data protection / data compliance / data security officer
  • Report the phishing email to Action Fraud at https://reportlite.actionfraud.police.uk/

As phishing attacks predominantly targeting end-users, it is a good idea to invest in a security education and awareness programme to raise the profile of risk.  It’s also helpful to include your clients in such a programme.

If you have any concerns about your organisation’s vulnerability to phishing attacks and you’d like a chat about staff training or prevention, just call 01787 277742 or email dc@datacompliant.co.uk

Data Compliant Services

Services at December 2014