Risk
1/20/2009
06:12 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Question The Internet

While many people have embraced Timothy Leary's advice to question authority, too few demonstrate willingness to question the Internet.

While many people have embraced Timothy Leary's advice to question authority, too few demonstrate willingness to question the Internet.It might seem obvious that one's online experience can be improved by some skepticism and fact checking, but too many people get duped by online scams.

I was thinking about this because a colleague forwarded an e-mail to me that purports to be IRS advice about how to receive a stimulus check.

"After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a Stimulus Payment," it says. "Please submit the Stimulus Payment Online Form in order to process it." It is, of course, a phishing attempt.

It's not hard to figure this out and most computer users can do so. This particular scam is documented at Snopes.com. The FBI has warned about it. The IRS explicitly says that it "does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail."

And if that's not enough, the purported IRS Web site page cited to make this phishing scam believable is hosted on .es Web site -- .es being the top-level country code domain for Spain.

Search for the title of the page -- "Welcome to Where's My Stimulus Payment?" -- on the IRS site and you'll find the following message: "We're sorry but our online tool, Where's My Stimulus Payment?, is no longer available."

The IRS adds: "Stimulus payments were required by law to be issued by December 31, 2008."

So anyone receiving an e-mail about a stimulus check isn't getting one.

Phishing shouldn't work. But it does.

I expect that most of the people reading InformationWeek aren't fooled by phishers. But at the risk of stating the obvious, here are a few suggestions to help reduce the risk of being duped. (If this is second nature to you, pass it on to someone less tech savvy or more credulous.)

• First, set your e-mail client so that it won't load images by default.

• Second, set your e-mail client to display message in text rather than HTML.

• Third, if you must display HTML, don't click on links in e-mail messages. Visit Web sites by typing URLs into the address bar of your browser. Notice typos designed to be mistaken for known brands.

• Fourth, use a pop-up blocker or the NoScript Firefox extension.

• Fifth, get curious and use the View Source command for e-mail messages (right-click on a message body in Microsoft Outlook) and Web pages. Look for references to unexpected servers or e-mail addresses, even in messages that appear to come from friends.

• Sixth, search for the subject line or a key phrase from a suspicious e-mail. More often than not, others have spotted the scam and the search engines have noticed.

And if that's too much bother, think of The X-Files and say, "I want to disbelieve." Because while the truth may be out there, it's not in your in-box.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Five Emerging Security Threats - And What You Can Learn From Them
At Black Hat USA, researchers unveiled some nasty vulnerabilities. Is your organization ready?
Flash Poll
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join Dark Reading community editor Marilyn Cohodas and her guest, David Shearer, (ISC)2 Chief Executive Officer, as they discuss issues that keep IT security professionals up at night, including results from the recent 2016 Black Hat Attendee Survey.