Posts Tagged: ‘Phishing’

Scam of the day – July 21, 2014 – Yahoo email phishing scam

July 21, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

A number of times I have written about email phishing scams that start when you receive an email that purports to be sent from AOL informing you that there is some problem with your AOL account which requires you to click on a link in order to rectify the problem.  Recently, another email server is the subject of a phishing scam.  This time it is Yahoo.  Here is a copy of an email that is presently finding its way into many people’s email boxes.  This is a phishing scam.  DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK.  Clicking on the link will result in either your downloading a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the information from your computer such as your Social Security number, credit card numbers and banking information that will then be used to make you a victim of identity theft or when you click on the link you will be prompted to provide personal information that will also be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Some phishing emails are better than others and this one was not very convincing.  The email address from which it was sent was not even a Yahoo email address.  It was the address of someone whose email had been hacked and made a part of a botnet of computers used by identity thieves to send out their phishing emails.  In addition, this email is not directed to you by name, but rather as “Yahoo user.”  As with many of these scams that often originate in foreign countries where English is a second language, the grammar is suspect as where in this email the word “responds” is used instead of the correct word “response.”

“Dear Yahoo! User

Your two incoming mails were placed on pending status due to the recent upgrade to our database, In order to receive the messages Click Here to login and wait for responds.

Customer! Mail Product Management.

Copyright © 2014 Mail! Inc. (Co. Reg.. No. 2344507D)All Rights
Reserved. Intellectual Property Rights Policy
Please do not reply to this message. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered.”

TIPS

The most important thing to remember is to never click on links in emails or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.  In this particular case, it is easy to see that it is a scam.  Additionally, you should make sure that your anti-malware and anti-virus software are installed and up to date with the latest security updates while remembering that you cannot rely on your security software because it is generally about thirty days behind the latest viruses and malware programs.

Scam of the day – July 15, 2014 – Mailbox identity theft danger

July 15, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Identity theft can be high tech, low tech or no tech and although much attention is often focused on computer phishing schemes, malware and other high tech methods of turning you into a victim of identity theft, low tech and no tech methods of identity theft can be equally as effective in stealing your identity.  One low tech method that has been around for a long time, but seems to be making a resurgence is when identity thieves put strong glue like the kind used on mouse trap paper is put on the inside of the swing-down chute in the mailboxes you find scattered throughout your city.  This glue traps mail on the chute rather than letting it go down into the mailbox when the lid is closed making it easy pickings for an identity thief who can be looking for checks you may be mailing to a business or a credit card payment.  Your check can either be altered through a process called “washing” so that the check is made to appear to be payable to the identity thief.   The identity thieves can also take the information from your check and make counterfeit checks in order to access your checking account.   They may also steal the information from your credit card statement to gain access to your credit card.

Another similar type of scam involves the identity thief putting the glue on a small object at the end of a string and lowering the string into the mailbox to go fishing for mail with checks, credit card statements or other information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Although it seems like you should be able to trust the U.S. mail, you would be prudent to mail payments and letters with financial information directly from the post office rather than use vulnerable mailboxes.  You also should consider making your payments electronically which is even safer.  When you do use checks, you should use a type of pen called a gel pen which you can purchase at any office supply store.  The ink from these pens is almost impossible to wash off of a check by a counterfeiter.  Finally, do not put mail with personal information or checks in your own personal mailbox at your home.  Often people do this and raise the red flag on the mail box to inform the letter carrier  that there is outgoing mail to be picked up from your box.  Unfortunately, it also informs an identity thief cruising your neighborhood that there are “goodies” in your mailbox.

 

Scam of the day – July 13, 2014 – Bank of Hawaii text message scam

July 13, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Recently many residents of Hawaii have been receiving a text message that appears to come from the Bank of Hawaii informing them that their accounts have been blocked or suspended or their lines of credit have been reduced.  They are also told in the text message to call 857-453-3714 and enter their account number and PIN in order to rectify the situation.  This is a  phishing scam and anyone providing that information to the scammer would end up becoming a victim of identity theft and having their accounts emptied.

TIPS

Regardless of how official such a text message may appear, you should never provide personal information to anyone in response to a telephone call, email or text message because in none of those situations can you be sure that the person contacting you is legitimate.  If you do receive a communication from a bank, government agency or any other person or entity that you think might have a legitimate need for personal information from you, you should call the real entity at a telephone number that you know is legitimate in order to ascertain the truth.  Banks do not call, text or email their customers asking for personal information.  You should always be skeptical of anyone asking for such information.  As  I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  This particular scam involved the Bank of Hawaii, but this scam is constantly being done around the country using the names of other banks.  As for those of you in Hawaii who may have fallen for this scam.  You should contact the real Bank of Hawaii at 888-643-3888 or by email at icare@boh.com for help.

Scam of the day – June 15, 2014 – Russian iPhone hackers arrested

June 15, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

It was only a few days ago that I warned you about some iPhone scams threatening users of Apple’s iPhone through a manipulation of the Find My Phone feature of the iPhone.  The Find My Phone feature allows iPhone owners to track and lock their phones if they are lost or stolen.  However this feature was allegedly misused by two Russians who used phishing techniques to get access to their victims’ Apple ID accounts where they activated the phone locking feature.  They then sent messages to their victims indicating that they would remotely delete the data in their phone and keep the phone locked unless they paid a ransom.  Another technique allegedly used by the pair of criminals to gain access to the phones was to place online ads offering to provide access to much media content to be accessed through the victim’s iPhone.  Once the victim linked his or her iPhone to the scammer’s account, the scammers activated the Find My Phone feature to lock the phone.

TIPS

The best way to resolve a problem is to avoid the problem altogether.  As I constantly warn you, never click on links in emails unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.  It is always safer to confirm first that the email with a link is legitimate first before considering clicking on the link.  You also should make sure that you always backup whatever content you keep on all of your electronic devices.  All of your electronic devices should also be protected with anti-virus and anti-malware software although it is important not to rely to heavily on these security programs because they are always a bit behind in protecting you from the latest malware and viruses.  Finally, If you are unlucky enough to have had your iPhone hijacked, you can correct the problem yourself through a “hard” reset.  Here is a link to instructions from Verizon as to how to do a hard reset: http://www.verizonwireless.com/support/devices/knowledge_base.html/39607/

You also can to to your Apple store with your iPhone and proof of purchase to have Apple resolve the problem.

 

Scam of the day – June 7, 2014 – Latest iPhone scam

June 7, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Recently many iPhone users have found that their Find My iPhone anti-theft feature had been accessed and used to lock the screen.  The victims then received a ransom demand of $100 by the hacker in order to unlock the screen.  However, this scam does not end there.  Other scammers are sending out emails posing as Apple and informing you about the problem with iPhones being remotely locked and prompting you for your username, password and other information under the guise of helping you to defend yourself from the threat of a remote locking of your iPhone.  The problem is that this email is a phishing email sent by a scammer who is merely trying to use this ruse to obtain your information to be able to take over your Apple account.

TIPS

If you were unlucky enough to have had your iPhone hijacked, you can correct the problem yourself through a “hard” reset.  Here is a link to instructions from Verizon as to how to do a hard reset: http://www.verizonwireless.com/support/devices/knowledge_base.html/39607/

As for dealing with the phishing emails that purport to be from Apple, my advice is the same as it always is.  Never provide information that can be used against you in response to an email, text message or telephone call from someone where you have not initiated the communication.  If you receive any such message and have the slightest thought that it might be legitimate, contact the company or person at an email address or phone number that you know is accurate to confirm whether or not the communication you received is a counterfeit phishing communication.  Making an email look legitimate is very easy to do, so trust me, you can’t trust anyone when it comes to communications asking you for personal information

Scam of the day – June 4, 2014 – Justice Department halts massive hacking scheme

June 4, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice revealed that it had broken a massive hacking scheme and taken over the computer servers that spread two major types of malware about which I have warned you previously.   The two types of malware are GameOverZeus and Cryptolocker.  GameOverZeus steals banking information from victims’ computer which the hackers then used to empty their victims’ bank accounts.  Cryptolocker is a particularly insidious type of malware that when installed on the victim’s computer encrypts all of the data contained on the computer.  After the encryption was accomplished, the criminals then notified the victim that their data would be destroyed unless a ransom payment was made.  This type of malware, has, appropriately been deemed ransomware.  Law enforcement officials estimate that as much as 100 million dollars was stolen by the gang operating these malware programs through a botnet.  Members of the gang included Russians, Ukrainians and British criminals.  Through the joint efforts of the FBI and law enforcement agencies in ten other countries, the computer servers of the hackers were seized and the alleged ringleader of the group, Russian Evgeniy Bogachev was indicted.  American authorities are in contact with Russian authorities to have Bogachev extradited to the United States for trial.

TIPS

This story is important for many reasons.  Certainly is not only good to see law enforcement cracking criminal hacking crimes, but also seeing international cooperation in the law enforcement effort.  However, ultimately, law enforcement is not going to be able to prevent you from becoming a victim of hackers seeking to steal from you through the use of malware such as GameOverZeus and Cryptolocker.  Instead the burden of protecting you from these attacks falls on all of us individually.  In all cases, these malware programs ultimately found their way to their victims’ computers when the victims invited them in by clicking on tainted links in emails or downloaded tainted attachments from phishing emails.  The first line of defense is not to ever click on emails or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.  You should also make sure that you have constantly updated anti-virus software and anti-malware software on all of your electronic devices.

The United States Department of Homeland Security has  issued a warning about the GameOverZeus malware that contains links to a number of effective anti-malware programs that can help protect your computer and other electronic devices from infection and remove the infection if it occurs.  Here is a link to that warning which, in turn, contains a link to the anti-malware software programs: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA14-150A

Scam of the day – May 31, 2014 – AOL customer support scam

May 31, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Millions of people still use AOL and so scammers and identity thieves will often send out phishing emails that appear to come from AOL, such as the one reproduced below.  The logo and format of this particular email that is presently circulating is a good counterfeit, however, the repeated faulty grammar is a strong indication that this is a scam.  Like many similar scams, this one works by luring you into clicking on a link in the email in order to resolve an emergency.  However, if you click on the link, one of two things will happen.  You either will be prompted to provide information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft or by clicking on the link you will unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  This particular email appears to be signed by Bud Rosenthal, who actually is an AOL officer, however, the email address from which it is sent is that of a student at a university whose email has been hijacked and made a part of a botnet of zombie computers used to send out the scam emails.  Here is how the email appears.  DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK:

 

 

AOL
Due to the recent signed in of your Account from an unknown location, you are advice toClick here to confirm the validity of your  AOL® Online Account.Thanks once again for choosing our service.

Bud Rosenthal
Bud Rosenthal, AOL Membership Group CEO

Privacy Policy | Customer Support
©2014 AOL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 TIPS

There are numerous reasons not to trust this email.  The email address from which it was sent has no relation to AOL.  It is not addressed to you personally.  It contains faulty grammar.  It is an obvious phishing email and its only purpose is to lure you into either providing personal information or downloading malware.  As I have warned you many times, never click on links or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that the email is legitimate.  In this case, if you even had a slight thought that it might be legitimate, all you would have to do is to call the real AOL to learn that this was a phishing scam.

Scam of the day – May 24, 2014 – iTunes phishing scam

May 24, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Phishing is a common start to many scams.  Phishing occurs when you respond to an email that appears to be from a legitimate company with which you do business only to learn that the official looking communication was a counterfeit, the sole purpose of which was to lure you into clicking on a link that in turn either, unknown to you, downloaded a keystroke logging malware program on to your computer by which the scammer is able to steal all of the information from your computer and use that information to make you a victim of identity theft or to lure you into providing personal information that also is used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Many large scale scams, including the Target hacking often start when employees are victimized by phishing scams that in turn give the scammers access to the information in their companies’ computers.

A recent phishing scam that is going on at this time involves a phony email that appears to be from Apple telling the victim that his or her iTunes account has been improperly accessed and that the account is now locked.  In order to access the account the victim is told, he or she is required to provide information that ends up being used to make the phishing victim a victim of identity theft as well.

TIPS

Remember my motto, “Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  Never provide information in response to an email, text message or telephone call you receive unless you have absolutely confirmed that the communication to you is legitimate and there is a legitimate need for providing that information.  If you receive such an email, do not click on any links contained within it, but rather call the company at a telephone number that you know is accurate to find out whether or not the original communication to you is legitimate or not.

Scam of the day – May 22, 2014 – The real danger in the hacking of eBay

May 21, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

The online auction website eBay just announced yesterday that it had been hacked and customer’s names, encrypted passwords, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth of as many as 112 million customers were stolen.  At this time, it does not appear that credit card information was taken, but that is only of minor consolation.  eBay is urging its customers to change their passwords for eBay and, if you are one of the many people who use the same user name and password for all of your accounts, you should change your user name and password for those accounts as well.  If you are an eBay user, it is very important that you do this right away because it is already quite late.  Although eBay only discovered this hacking within the last couple of days, the hacking went on between late February and early March so hackers already have this information which they may be using themselves or selling on the black market to identity thieves.  eBay is already notifying its customers by email to change their passwords, but if you get such an email and it contains a link to change your password, I urge you not to click on the link because it may be an email from an identity thief posing as eBay through a counterfeit phishing email that appears to come from eBay and if you click on a link in the email, you may end up downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal the information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  Instead, I suggest you go directly to the eBay website on your own and not through a link in order to change your password.

Even though the passwords stolen were encrypted, you should not feel too safe because if your password is not complex, there are computer programs that identity thieves use to break the encryption and gain access to your password.  Once they have that password and your user name, if you are one of the many people who use the same user name and password for all of your accounts, you are in serious jeopardy in regard to all of your online accounts including your online banking.

TIPS

If you are an eBay user, go to the eBay website and change your password to a complex, but easy to remember password that includes a  combination of capital and small letters as well as other signs.  Something like “Idon’tLikePasswords!!!” would actually be a great password and easy to remember.  Also, make sure you use different passwords for each of your accounts so that when, not if, your password information is a part of a data breach, all of your accounts are not in danger.  Again, a good way to remember your password is to take the basic password and adapt it to the particular account, such as “Idon’tLikePasswordsAmazon!!!”  If you are an eBay user, you should be particularly vigilant because hackers have your contact information such that you are now more likely to receive personally adapted phishing emails which is called spear phishing by which the email you receive purporting to be from a company with which you may do business may be directed to you by name rather than “Dear customer” or the like.  As always, remember my motto, “Trust me you can’t trust anyone” and never click on links in emails unless you have absolutely confirmed that they are legitimate.  Also make sure that you have anti-malware and anti-virus security software on all of your electronic devices and keep these programs up to date with the latest patches.

Scam of the day – May 21, 2014 – What the Chinese hacking of American companies means to you

May 21, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

By now everyone is aware that the United States Justice Department indicted five members of the Chinese military on charges related to cyberattacks against a number of American companies including US Steel, Allegheny Technologies and SolarWorld.  Although this is the first time that criminal charges have ever been brought against a foreign country, this is not at all surprising.  In fact, a study by the security company Mandiant in 2013 revealed how Chinese hackers have been stealing corporate secrets to use for their own benefit from 115 American companies since 2004.  This story has many angles and it will be unfolding in the days and weeks ahead, but what should be of interest to us as individuals is how the Chinese hackers are alleged to have managed to infiltrate the computers of the companies they targeted.  In the case of Alcoa, it is alleged that the way in was through an email that appeared to be from Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn who was, at the time a member of the Alcoa Board of Directors.  This email was sent to 19 Alcoa employees purporting to inform them about an upcoming shareholder meeting and containing an attachment with the meeting agenda.  However, in truth the email was a phishing email sent by Chinese hackers and the attachment was riddled with malware that, when unwittingly downloaded by at least one of the Alcoa employees, enabled the Chinese hackers to gain access to Alcoa’s computers and all of the information contained therein.

So what does this mean to you?

TIPS

In so many major hacks and data breaches including the Target data breach, the malware has been installed on the victim’s computers by the victim himself who in each case unknowingly downloaded an attachment containing malware or clicked on a link with malware.  If these people had been regular readers of Scamicide they would have known that you should never click on a link or download an attachment unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.  Merely because an email, text message or other communication appears to come from someone you know and trust does not mean that it is legitimate.  Never click on a link or download an attachment unless you have independently verified through a telephone call, text message or email with the person who it appears is sending you the communication with the attachment or link to be clicked on.  Additionally, you should always make sure that your anti-malware software and anti-virus software is up to date although as I have often told you, even then your security software is only about 5% effective against the very latest malware programs.