Feeds

419ers rifle through Ecademy.com

Anti-social networking

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The growing popularity of Web 2.0 as a venue for viruses, pedophiles and other online nasties made it only a matter of time before sleaze oozed to professional networking sites, and sure enough, an Australian security firm is offering a detailed postmortem on an attempted Nigerian banking scam on Ecademy.com.

Carl Jongsma, a lead researcher at Sunnet Beskerming, says he encountered the attempted fraud while perusing the pages of Ecademy, which aims to be to business people what MySpace is to Gen Y. Ecademy is based in the UK and claims more than 100,000 members worldwide. According to a report released today, the 419 perpetrators used a ginned-up user profile and Ecademy's messaging system to tailor appeals to site users.

"For the non-technical reader, this report provides a walkthrough of a scam attempt that they are likely to encounter in the future when logged into Professional/business networking sites, and it will help them identify potentially risky situations," Jongsma writes.

Jongsma, who uses Ecademy as a means of cultivating contacts, logged onto the site recently to find a message purporting to come from an executive at Emirates Bank Group, with headquarters in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai.

"Your last name 'Jongsma' attracted me to read your profile which also impressed me and I decided to communicate with you and see how best we can assist each other," the message read in part.

In addition to the message tailored specifically to Jongsma, the communication also appeared authentic after the recipient was able to establish the existence of an Emirates Bank executive with the same name of his Ecademy correspondent. In the name of research, Sunnet Beskerming officials took the bait.

It's probably clear where all this is heading. The would-be banking executive soon made reference to a deceased banking customer, a "Peter Jongsman," who tragically perished in the 2006 Earthquake in Indonesia. The real Jongsma, who eventually changed the discussion venue with the executive to email, soon discovered that the messages were not originating from the UAE but - you guessed it - Nigeria.

Even after being confronted with the cancellation of his Ecademy account and other suspicious circumstances, the person posing as the bank executive insisted he was the real deal. So eager we he to clear the whole thing up that he made his case using IM features on Skype - another red flag since UAE authorities, according to Jongsma, ban the VoIP service in that country.

"As it stands, this new style of phishing and scamming is more like an old style scam, from when there was no Internet, and con artists had to invest time and resources into making a successful scam," Jongsma writes.

Julian Bond, Ecademy's CTO, agrees. "Social networks are another form of communication that is being attacked. Just like email," he wrote in an IM to The Register. He readily admits there's nothing stopping someone from gracing an account with the name and likeness of this reporter or anyone else. And he says Nigerian scams like the one Jongsma received are reported as many as 10 times per month.

Ecademy's security team quickly sniffs out untrustworthy people, often with the help of its user base, he adds. But the episode is a reminder that beyond all the buzz of Web 2.0 and social networks, there's no replacement for old-world skepticism. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.