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Posts Tagged ‘phishing’

Think you know how to protect yourself from phishing? Think again.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

This year kicked off with a sophisticated phishing scam that fooled users and cybersecurity experts alike. Users were giving away their passwords to scammers through a seemingly legit Gmail login page. The scam had all the markers of a legitimate email, including the appearance that it was sent from a known sender.

There are many articles out there about the warning signs of phishing scams. We know the rules: Don’t click on URLs you don’t know, beware of emails that sound urgent or feel pressuring, etc. The reality is that many of these tips aimed to protect against phishing attacks would not have worked in the case of the Gmail attack.

Phishing

Gmail’s spam filters already capture many emails that display common signs of scamming (formal language, unknown senders, etc.). However, phishing scammers and hackers, in general, are becoming more sophisticated in their techniques. A greater understanding of security will help you keep up with hackers in 2017. Here we’ll dive into the details of what made the Gmail scam so unique and address some sophisticated phishing scam avoidance tips you can start trying out today.

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Analyzing a Forged Email Message: How to Tell It Was Forged?

Monday, February 9th, 2015

In our previous posting, we looked at exactly how Spammers and hackers can send forged email — how its is possible and how it is done.  Therein, we gave an example how one could send an email forged to be from Bank of America.

In this post, we will look at that forged Bank of America email to see technically what it looks like and how it differs from legitimate email from Bank of America.

What can we learn that allows us to detect forged email in the future?

The Forgery: Received.

The forged email from Bank of America was based on a legitimate email message, so that the forgery could look as close as possible to actual email from them.

In truth, the majority of forged email simply changes the “From” address and does not bother with anything else.  These forged messages are used for Spam and hope the forgery fools enough people to be worth it, through numbers.  What we are looking at here is a more carefully crafted message designed to fool filters and a careful eye.  These kinds of fakes might be used in spear phishing attacks on an individual or in more sophisticated Spam campaigns.

The the forged Bank of America email that arrived in the recipient’s mail box looked like this (the raw headers):

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How can Spammers and Hackers Send Forged Email?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Everyone has seen spam messages arrive with a “From” address that is your own address, a colleague’s, a friends, or that of some company that you work with or use.  These From addresses are forged to help the messages (a) get by your spam filters, and (b) get by your “eyeball filters”.

But how are these folks “allowed” to do that?

When email was first developed, there was no concept of the need for security; protections against identity theft and forgery were not part of the plan.  As a result, it is actually trivial for one to send an email with a forged “From” address and even some forged “Received” tracking lines by just connecting to your target’s email server and telling it whatever you want.

Let’s try to send an email to the address “testuser@luxsci.net” pretending to be from “Bank of America”.  The purpose of this exercise is not to teach you how to send forged email so much (this is not a new technique) as to set the stage for understanding how to detect and combat these kinds of messages.

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8 Ways to Protect yourself from Forged/Fake Email

Monday, January 26th, 2015

The Internet is rife with fake and forged email.  Typically these are email messages that appear to be from a friend, relative, business acquaintance, or vendor that ask you to do something.  If you trust that the message is really from this person, you are much more likely to take whatever action is requested — often to your detriment.

These are forms of social engineering — the “bad guys” trying to establish a trusted context so that you will give them information or perform actions that you otherwise would not or should not do.

Here we address some of the actions you can take to protect yourself from these attacks as best as possible.  We’ll present these in the order of increasing complexity / technical difficulty.

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Why protecting and validating email identity is a top priority for a secure 2015

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

The scope and frequency of cyber attacks, data breaches, information disclosures, and the sophistication of the tools used to attack companies and individuals has been increasing at a tremendous rate.

It doesn’t strain our memories to come up with numerous prime examples including the deliberate corporate penetration of Sony (which was “easy”) and of Sands Casino (presumably very hard); or the exposure of super-powerful nation state sponsored attack software Regin that helps enable penetration of specific, complex targets.   Don’t forget as well, the numerous phishing attacks that were propagated in 2014.  And, perhaps just as infamous, the social engineering attacks in which malicious individuals tricked Apple and GoDaddy into revealing sensitive information.

All of these are different attack vectors, with different ultimate purposes, targeting individuals or corporations.  All were successful.  And the actual, complete list would be too large to publish (and would be impossible to know as more than half of data breaches go unnoticed).

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