Risk
4/30/2008
02:18 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Warns Users About Phishing

In advising users to be wary of clicking on links in e-mail messages or responding to requests for personal information, Google is trying to protect its own business.

In a continuation of its series of posts on Internet security, Google on Tuesday warned its users about phishing attacks.

Google engineer Ian Fette in a blog post explains that phishing is pretty simple: "Someone masquerades as someone else in an effort to fool you into sharing personal or other sensitive information with them," he says. "Phishers can masquerade as just about anyone, including banks, e-mail and application providers, online merchants, online payment services, and even governments."

Fette acknowledges that while some phishing attacks are obvious, many are not. "That fake e-mail from 'your bank' can look very real; the bogus 'login page' you're redirected to can seem completely legitimate," he cautions.

As if to demonstrate that point, the SANS Internet Storm Center earlier this month warned that CEOs of some companies are being targeted with a phishing attack that relies on fake federal subpoenas sent via e-mail. It's an obvious attack if you understand that subpoenas aren't sent via e-mail, yet Matt Richard, director of rapid response for security firm iDefense estimated that about 1,800 executives -- about 10% of the total who received the attack -- fell for it and responded.

If business leaders, who ought to know better, get duped, what chance do less sophisticated computer users have?

Jaded Internet veterans and the paranoid may marvel that anyone clicks any links in e-mail messages or believes anything contained therein. They've already stopped trusting anything sent in an e-mail.

But Google can't afford to give up. It cannot afford to let mistrust become the norm among the masses because its business depends upon trust. If skepticism of e-mail spreads to the Web, people will stop clicking on ads and abandon the browser for applications that can deliver safer online interaction.

So it is that Google is advising its users to be wary of clicking on links in e-mail messages or responding to requests for personal information. It's Google's way of saying all is not lost.

Fette suggests that when presented with a URL in an e-mail, users should type it into the browser address bar or select it from the bookmark, if bookmarked already. Sound advice, to be sure, but it's dangerously close to admitting that e-mail just can't be trusted.

It is in Fette's penultimate recommendation -- "Be wary of the 'fabulous offers' and 'fantastic prizes' that you'll sometimes come across on the Web" -- that the challenge Google faces becomes apparent. Google isn't so much warning users about phishing attacks as it is warning users about themselves.

"If something seems too good to be true, it probably is...," explains Fette in a well-meaning attempt to save people from human nature. He's alluding to the promises of riches that phishers use to bait their messages, but his words apply to the Google-powered Internet economy. Advertising may pick up the tab for the free lunch of Internet services available at Google and elsewhere. Just make sure to add the cost of security to the bill.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-7052
Published: 2014-10-19
The sahab-alkher.com (aka com.tapatalk.sahabalkhercomvb) application 2.4.9.7 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-7056
Published: 2014-10-19
The Yeast Infection (aka com.wyeastinfectionapp) application 0.1 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-7070
Published: 2014-10-19
The Air War Hero (aka com.dev.airwar) application 3.0 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-7075
Published: 2014-10-19
The HAPPY (aka com.tw.knowhowdesign.sinfonghuei) application 2.0 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-7079
Published: 2014-10-19
The Romeo and Juliet (aka jp.co.cybird.appli.android.rjs) application 1.0.6 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.