Feeds

Phishing email poses as IRS tax refund

Your check's in our account

Boost IT visibility and business value

Email fraudsters are taking advantage of lax government security around a US government website to run a scam designed to trick US taxpayers into handing over sensitive personal information.

A phishing email which pose as notification of a refund from the US's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) takes advantage of security configuration weaknesses on a secondary website run by the Department of Labor, according to security firm Sophos. It warns that these emails redirect surfers to a bogus website with users fooled into thinking they remain on a legitimate US government site.

In an attempt to look more legitimate, the bogus emails tell users to cut-and-paste the link into their web browser rather than click directly on it. This link features the genuine domain name of the real government website. But configuration errors bounce surfers to a bogus look-a-like site run by the cyber-criminals. The ruse makes the IRS-themed scam more sophisticated than typical phishing attacks.

"This phish tells the user that the IRS owes them several hundred dollars and offers a web link from which they can allegedly claim the tax refund," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "But the link in the email simply bounces the user off a US Government website onto a site owned by the criminals, who are ready and waiting to steal their credit card details, Social Security Number and other personal information."

More information, including graphics of the email and bogus website, can be found here. The phishing website used in the attack has now been taken down but the security shortcomings of the US government site targeted in the attack remain, leaving the door open for similar attacks in future.

"The phishers didn't need to hack into or compromise the government website to do this, the website has simply had this vulnerability on it all along," Cluley added. "This is a warning to every business and agency that runs a website to be very careful that it cannot be abused to bounce web surfers elsewhere." ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?