May 15, 2005 9:00 PM PDT

New phishing attack uses real ID hooks

Security researchers are reporting a new brand of phishing attack that attempts to use stolen consumer data to rip off individual account holders at specific banks.

Workers at hosted security services company Cyota are sharing the details of this more sophisticated form of phishing threat, which forsakes the mass-targeting approach traditionally used in the fraud schemes in favor of taking aim at individual consumers. The security company would not disclose the names of the banks involved in the attacks, but said that its list includes some of the largest financial-services companies in the nation.

According to Cyota, the phishing e-mails arrive at bank customers' in-boxes featuring accurate account information, including the customer's name, e-mail address and full account number. The messages are crafted to appear as if they have been sent by the banks in order to verify other account information, such as an ATM personal-identification number or a credit card CVD code, a series of digits printed on the back of most cards as an extra form of identification.

Phishing is a form of online fraud that has exploded in frequency over the last several years. Typically using large-volume e-mail campaigns, phishers try to trick people into sharing personal information that the thieves then sell or use to commit identity theft. The new breed of attack, however, could have a higher success rate because the e-mails present unsuspecting recipients with accurate information in a document that looks like legitimate bank correspondence.

Cyota co-founder Amir Orad said he believes that the criminals responsible for the personalized phishing attacks have purchased stolen consumer data from other individuals and are trying to get information that's even more sensitive to sell to someone else at a premium.

"The attacks take advantage of poor technological defenses and continued consumer vulnerability, and evidence the work of an organized group with real research-and-development resources," Orad said. "So far, the success rates that we've seen are amazing. People are expecting to see a crude attack that tries to steal their information; they're not expecting to see this much real information as part of the attack."

Orad said that Cyota has already taken down several sites related to the personalized phishing schemes, but indicated that many more such sites have appeared since. The company is advising consumers to avoid sharing any financial information online without first verifying that a request for such data was sent for legitimate purposes.

In another recent development, the March phishing trends report released by the Anti-Phishing Working Group found that the attacks are increasingly relying on so-called keystroke loggers, a form of malicious program, to garner consumer information. Rather than trying to direct people to fake Web sites that ask for personal information, keystroke phishers capture login names and passwords for online bank accounts when customers access the accounts via computer. The keystroke logger programs then forward that information to the attackers.

3 comments

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Its time for 2 factor authentication.
The banks need to stop authenticating based on static data. how many more millions will people have to loose before they take action. Lower cost solutions are coming out now, that even make it extremely affordable. Like this one.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techmobius.com/tm/UI/Pages/P/IndustrySls/CardSolutions/index.aspx" target="_newWindow">http://www.techmobius.com/tm/UI/Pages/P/IndustrySls/CardSolutions/index.aspx</a>
Posted by (6 comments )
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Nope
The Failure of Two-Factor Authentication:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/03/the_failure_of.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/03/the_failure_of.html</a>
Posted by TimeBomb (70 comments )
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I don't trust the banks...
...to do what's right and protect us, the consumer. They're only gonna protect their bottom lines. It's gonna take lawsuits to make the comparison (and alternatives) cheaper.
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
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