8 October 2008

Security warning on email phishing attack

Auckland-based email security company SMX has issued a warning to New Zealand Internet users of a sophisticated phishing attack targeting Westpac online banking customers.

SMX's Director of Operations, Thom Hooker, says the email-borne attack appears in the user's inbox as a legitimate looking email from Westpac.

However, instead of the usual request for a user to install a ‘security update' or change their password, this attack tries to fool the victim into clicking a link to a compromised website - presumably to install some trojan or similar software threat - by informing them of an unsuccessful login to their online banking account.

The user is requested to click one of two links to ‘confirm' whether or not the recipient had suspicious activity was them or not. Both of the links, however, send the user to a web site in Korea.

SMX's spam filters started detecting and blocking this latest phishing attack early Tuesday morning, Hooker says. The phishing attack is sufficiently sophisticated to find its way through to most home email users and some business email filters.

Hooker says that phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. As many as 15 percent of recipients respond by either providing information or clicking on links which download spyware. This spyware can give hackers visibility into the recipients hard drive and be used to capture banking passwords and other private information.

He says email users should always be suspicious of any emails purporting to come from banking institutions. Users should be aware that banks never ask customers to download software, provide security details, or even click links in an email.