Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

8/2/2012
10:03 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Phone Fraud Up 30 Percent

Nine out of 10 of the largest U.S. banks have been impersonated by phone fraudsters looking to steal money

An oft-forgotten or dismissed attack vector is becoming one of the weakest links for fraud in the U.S., a new study found: There are now more than five phone fraud calls placed per minute, and the volume of these scams increased by 29 percent in the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, nine out of 10 of the largest banks have been impersonated in these attacks, according to startup Pindrop Security’s State of Phone Fraud Report, 1H 2012, which was released today. Pindrop found some 1.3 million phone fraud incidents during that six-month period. The cities with the highest volume of phone fraud were Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Dallas, and Phoenix.

Phone fraud encompasses fraudsters posing as banks or other trusted organizations in order to gather personal information from victims and steal money from their bank accounts or pilfer their credit cards.

Fraudsters are moving to phone fraud because banks have increased physical security, as well as their network security, says Paul Judge, chairman of Pindrop. "The phone channel has become the weakest link," Judge says. "A lot of the community has overlooked the traditional phone channel" as an attack vector, he says.

These attackers typically employ a hybrid approach with a little e-crime as well: "If they break into a website and get only so far, they need to talk with the phone channel to get the rest, or vice versa," Judge says.

"It's easier to trick a call center rep than a firewall," he says.

Banks' two-factor authentication has led some attackers to employ a little phone hijacking to gather the user's password or other information, using call-forwarding attacks. Some 34 of the top 50 U.S. banks either had their brand spoofed in Caller ID, or fraudsters claimed to be them on a call.

Nearly 50 percent of fraud calls originate from voice-over-IP (VoIP) phones, while use of cell phones jumped from 5 percent last year to 14 percent this year. Google Voice was the top-abused VoIP provider, and Verizon the top-abused cell provider in these scams.

VoIP is especially popular because it's cheap, easily accessible, mobile, and difficult to trace because it allows caller ID-spoofing and provides some anonymity. "You can take it with you on your laptop ... when you travel," Judge says. "There's a combination of mobile and VoIP: You can find dozens of free apps to install on iPhone or Android that spoof CallerID and even change your voice for you. You can playback prerecorded audio, too. It's easy for anyone to set up shop" with phone fraud, Judge says.

Fraudsters also purchase multiple phone numbers for their "businesses": Pindrop found one scammer had more than 7,100 different phone numbers to carry out his attack. "They buy up phone numbers like IP addresses are purchased in the IP world. You see a fraud ring call from a call center and spoof numbers from across the country," Judge says.

Meanwhile, the criminals behind these fraud scams are typically either individuals or well-funded groups from around the world. They often cast a wide net for their victims, with a series of robo-calls that alternate between different banks. And they're after the same information a cyberscammer is after in order to make money.

How do you protect yourself? Hang up. "If someone claiming to be your bank or other company asks for sensitive information, hang up and call them back" on their verified phone number, Judge says. "Caller ID is not trustworthy."

The full report is available here for download.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
When It Comes To Security Tools, More Isn't More
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  1/11/2021
US Capitol Attack a Wake-up Call for the Integration of Physical & IT Security
Seth Rosenblatt, Contributing Writer,  1/11/2021
IoT Vendor Ubiquiti Suffers Data Breach
Dark Reading Staff 1/11/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2020: The Year in Security
Download this Tech Digest for a look at the biggest security stories that - so far - have shaped a very strange and stressful year.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
COVID-19 has created a new IT paradigm in the enterprise -- and a new level of cybersecurity risk. This report offers a look at how enterprises are assessing and managing cyber-risk under the new normal.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15864
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-17
An issue was discovered in Quali CloudShell 9.3. An XSS vulnerability in the login page allows an attacker to craft a URL, with a constructor.constructor substring in the username field, that executes a payload when the user visits the /Account/Login page.
CVE-2021-3113
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-17
Netsia SEBA+ through 0.16.1 build 70-e669dcd7 allows remote attackers to discover session cookies via a direct /session/list/allActiveSession request. For example, the attacker can discover the admin's cookie if the admin account happens to be logged in when the allActiveSession request occurs, and ...
CVE-2020-25533
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-15
An issue was discovered in Malwarebytes before 4.0 on macOS. A malicious application was able to perform a privileged action within the Malwarebytes launch daemon. The privileged service improperly validated XPC connections by relying on the PID instead of the audit token. An attacker can construct ...
CVE-2021-3162
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-15
Docker Desktop Community before 2.5.0.0 on macOS mishandles certificate checking, leading to local privilege escalation.
CVE-2021-21242
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-15
OneDev is an all-in-one devops platform. In OneDev before version 4.0.3, there is a critical vulnerability which can lead to pre-auth remote code execution. AttachmentUploadServlet deserializes untrusted data from the `Attachment-Support` header. This Servlet does not enforce any authentication or a...