Cybercrooks send in Bouncer to guide marks to phishing sites
Website for one, monsieur?
Cybercrooks have begun bundling whitelisting technology with phishing kits in a bid to restrict access to phishing sites to only their intended victims.
The tactic of blacklisting IP addresses associated with security firms from accessing banking fraud sites has been in play for at least a few months now, but a new phishing toolkit called Bouncer goes one step further - restricting access ONLY to prospective marks.
Security analysts at RSA, which discovered the new phishing toolkit, said it has been used to target customers of banks in South Africa, Australia and Malaysia in recent weeks. Each campaign targeted an average number of 3,000 recipients with lists featuring a mixed bag of webmail users, corporate addresses and even some bank employees. The target list may have come from an earlier data breach.
Bouncer allows cybercrooks to generate a unique ID for each intended victim, which is embedded in the URL that intended victims are asked to click on in order to visit hijacked sites that serve as phishing scam hubs. Intended victims are redirected to a live site posing as their banking institution, where attempts are made to trick them into handing over their online banking login credentials, while everyone else gets a "404 page not found" error message.
The approach means that automated systems or researchers at security firms might be fooled into thinking an attack had already been pulled offline while in reality it's still active, potentially extending the life expectancy of phishing fraud sites based on Bouncer.
"Traditional phishers like to cast as wide of a net as possible, but with this tactic the phisher is laser-focusing the campaign in an effort to collect only the most pertinent credentials for his purposes. Keeping out uninvited guests also means avoiding security companies and prompt take-downs of such attacks," explained Limor Kessem, a cybercrime and online fraud specialist at RSA.
"The peculiar approach is likely the work of a gang or a fraud service vendor supplying credentials to specific geographical regions and targets," she added.
As a prelude to Bouncer-based attacks, cybercrooks are taking advantage of WordPress plugin vulnerabilities to compromise and hijack websites before uploading a web-shell to hijacked sites, and then exploiting them as resources in phishing fraud campaigns.
Kessem added that Bouncer is an example of how "modern-day phishing kits are written with increasing complexity and sophistication, authored by programmers who adapt the kits to the phisher’s needs".
A write-up of the threat can be found in a blog post by RSA here. ®
The total number of phishing attacks launched in 2012 was 445,004, up 59 per cent on the 279,580 attacks recorded in 2011. Estimated losses hit $1.5bn last year, up 22 per cent from 2011 figures, according to figures from RSA.
It would help a lot if banks etc. would stop sending out emails containing links, OF ANY SORT! The say they will not ask for your security details, but any link is dangerous as it could be to a trojan or whatever.
It would also help if they would not ring you up about something, and ask you to prove your identity without being able to prove theirs. Every time it happens they seem to be startled that I do not automatically believe them.
I think you are being a little harsh on some of the people who are being caught out. A lot of people use the internet as a tool that they know very little if anything about, they view an email from their bank/paypal as a legitimate form of communication and one that they may be used to seeing. So when it says there has been a problem they believe it and act on it quickly... I have friends who have spoken to me about emails they recieved which they say looked legitimate, I point out the holes in the emails and they understand, but to them on first viewing they were correct.
So it should be up to us to help educate our friends and family about these pitfalls, make sure they understand how valuable their data is and how to keep it safe.
Well this certainly adds an interesting twist to things. I can imagine this is going to cause some serious headaches for the researchers...
The interesting part of the story is the figures given at the end. The number of phishing attacks went up by 50% but the loses due to these attacks only increased by 22%. So all in all, even though the number of attacks is increasing, they are becoming less successful.
It kills me every time i read about someone getting taken by phishing attacks, its really not hard to avoid turning yourself into a (broke) victim. A little common sense can go a long way, but common sense isn't as common as its name implies...