Feeds

Gmail, AOL, Yahoo! all hit by webmail phishing scam

I can see my address from here

The essential guide to IT transformation

Update Google has confirmed that Gmail has also been targeted by an "industry-wide phishing scheme" which first hit Hotmail accounts. Yahoo! and AOL are also reportedly affected.

Hackers used fake websites to gain the login credentials attached to various webmail accounts. The attack emerged after a list of 30,000 purloined usernames and passwords was posted online. These leaked details reportedly referred to Gmail, Comcast and Earthlink accounts.

A second list containing webmail addresses and passwords referring to Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and Gmail also surfaced online. Some of the addresses on this list were old and fake, but at least some were genuine, the BBC reports. Both lists have been taken offline, so are no longer directly accessible.

The search engine giant confirmed that an unspecified number of accounts were compromised, adding that it had reset the passwords of the compromised accounts.

"We recently became aware of an industry-wide phishing scheme through which hackers gained user credentials for web-based mail accounts including Gmail accounts," a Google spokesperson told the BBC.

"As soon as we learned of the attack, we forced password resets on the affected accounts. We will continue to force password resets on additional accounts when we become aware of them."

In a statement sent to El Reg in response to out inquiries, Yahoo confirmed that an unspecified number of Yahoo webmail accounts were on the leaked list. It couldn't confirm how many of the profiles were genuine.

We are aware that a limited number of Yahoo! IDs have been made public.

Online scams and phishing attacks are an ongoing and industry-wide issue and Yahoo! takes great effort to protect our users' security. We urge consumers to take measures to secure their accounts whenever possible, including changing their passwords. We also encourage our customers to review resources that provide guidelines on email safety.

Earlier 10,000 Hotmail IDs and passwords were posted online at Pastebin, a site more commonly used for developers to share code. It's unclear whether this list was connected to the latest password harvesting scams.

This list has also been taken offline, but it appears that the horse has already bolted. "Making the breach public so soon after the attack occurred has allowed unethical hackers to access the passwords very easily, even though they were deleted a couple of days ago at the request of Microsoft," said Neil O'Neil, a digital forensics investigator at secure payments firm The Logic Group.

Rik Ferguson, a security researcher at Trend Micro, said that the security firm had begun detecting spam sent through these compromised Hotmail accounts.

As many as two in five people use the same password for every site they use. That means access to a webmail account gives hackers a head start in accessing online banking or PayPal accounts linked to the same address.

Underground bazaars and carder forums are full of sales of these more sensitive login credentials. Email addresses have sold alongside purloined credit card numbers and online bank accounts for months if not years on such black market forums.

Seen in that context the webmail phishing is not as shocking as early mainstream reports might suggest. The combined incidents serve to further illustrate the importance of password security. Using a different, hard-to-guess password on every site is a very good start in this direction. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
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?