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Security breach gives PayPal phish the personal touch

Real names, thanks to Pamela

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Skype users who use a piece of software dubbed Pamela to manage their online phone accounts should be on the lookout for customized phishing attacks following revelations that one or more user databases containing names and email addresses have been breached.

The attack, which took place last week, has already led to one phishing campaign that calls recipients by their real names and then tries to trick them into turning over personal information. That added personal touch could throw some users off guard because most phishing emails address their marks by generic terms such as "Dear PayPal User."

The online thieves managed to penetrate the defenses of Pamela Systems by exploiting a security hole in an unnamed application the website uses, Dick H. Schiferli, Pamela's founder and CEO told The Register. He declined to say how many of the site's users had their information stolen, or how many users have registered with his site. Pamela boasts 4.5 million downloads, although the number of registered users is probably much smaller.

Schiferli said his team was still in the process of contacting customers whose information was stolen.

"This is our first experience with something like this," he said. "We're taking this very seriously. We contacted PayPal last week." So far, they've yet to get a response.

The breach could prove valuable because ostensibly everyone in the user database uses Skype. That allows fraudsters with important leads and information to tailor scams. Pamela users who have received phishing emails are encouraged to post in the comments section of this story, or contact the reporter at the above contact link. ®

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