Feeds

Google goes spear phishing on MySpace

Short-lived spike in phishing traffic

Reducing security risks from open source software

If it seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry with a MySpace account was getting his account hijacked a couple of months ago there's a reason. Starting in mid-March, the number of page views generated on phish sites increased five-fold, with almost all (95 per cent) targeting the popular social networking site.

The revelation, included in an entry on Google's Online Security blog, bolsters other research suggesting social networks are a growing target of phishers.

One reason for the increase: sites such as LinkedIn and MySpace offer conmen a streamlined means for identifying and winning the trust of individuals connected to a particular company or industry. What's more, individuals frequently use the same username and password across dozens of accounts. Misappropriated MySpace login credentials represent a possible entry point for accounts on a wealth of other online destinations, including banks and web-based email.

More often than not, the bait in a MySpace phish is the networking site itself, as opposed to the more traditional spammed email instructing the recipient to visit a spoofed site to confirm an account. To observe how the scams work, Google employees set up dummy accounts and then slipped the login information information to the bad guys.

Turns out the injection of a simple CSS code into a profile is all it takes to infect the page so that clicking anywhere on it, including what appear to be legit MySpace links, will redirect a user to a phishing page.

(Examples of profiles that use the CSS code to redirect to third-party sites are here, here and here, though we strongly urge readers not to click on the MySpace profiles themselves since it's possible some of them point to sites that try to install malware.)

As if it wasn't enough that MySpace's CSS quirks make it a snap to redirect users to spoofed sites, there's more. Despite providing explicit warnings that a phishing site was a spoof, Google received thousands of complaints from users who wanted to know why the fraudulent destination wasn't allowing them to access photos and other MySpace content. It seems MySpace users aren't a particularly cautious lot.

According to Google's blog entry, the spike in phishing traffic was curtailed in mid-April and MySpace phishing has dropped to much lower volumes - though we're not sure why. Google attributes the drop to an update in MySpace's server software that allows administrators to nix bad links dropped into user profiles.

That may be playing a part, but we have our doubts. As we demonstrated above, it's plenty easy to find examples of CSS redirects on MySpace profiles. And according to Loren Williams, who frequently blogs about MySpace at GhettoWebmaster, the link filtering software MySpace implemented in late April works only on the comments section of a user profile, not on the profile itself and applies only to links added after the changes were put in place.

Says Williams: "They're saying that they released this filter and now everything is hunky dory. That's not the case." ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.