Brian Krebs is reporting on some new and sophisticated phishing scams over the telephone.
I second his advice: “never give out any information about yourself in response to an unsolicited phone call.” Always call them back, and not using the number offered to you by the caller. Always.
EDITED TO ADD: In 2009, I wrote:
When I was growing up, children were commonly taught: “don’t talk to strangers.” Strangers might be bad, we were told, so it’s prudent to steer clear of them.
And yet most people are honest, kind, and generous, especially when someone asks them for help. If a small child is in trouble, the smartest thing he can do is find a nice-looking stranger and talk to him.
These two pieces of advice may seem to contradict each other, but they don’t. The difference is that in the second instance, the child is choosing which stranger to talk to. Given that the overwhelming majority of people will help, the child is likely to get help if he chooses a random stranger. But if a stranger comes up to a child and talks to him or her, it’s not a random choice. It’s more likely, although still unlikely, that the stranger is up to no good.
That advice is generalizable to this instance as well. The problem is that someone claiming to be from your bank asking for personal information. The problem is that they contacted you first.
Where else does this advice hold true?
Posted on October 2, 2018 at 3:09 PM •
This is an interesting security vulnerability: because it is so easy to impersonate iOS password prompts, a malicious app can steal your password just by asking.
Why does this work?
iOS asks the user for their iTunes password for many reasons, the most common ones are recently installed iOS operating system updates, or iOS apps that are stuck during installation.
As a result, users are trained to just enter their Apple ID password whenever iOS prompts you to do so. However, those popups are not only shown on the lock screen, and the home screen, but also inside random apps, e.g. when they want to access iCloud, GameCenter or In-App-Purchases.
This could easily be abused by any app, just by showing an UIAlertController, that looks exactly like the system dialog.
Even users who know a lot about technology have a hard time detecting that those alerts are phishing attacks.
The essay proposes some solutions, but I’m not sure they’ll work. We’re all trained to trust our computers and the applications running on them.
Posted on October 12, 2017 at 6:43 AM •
This article feels like hyperbole:
The scam has arrived in Australia after being used in the United States and Britain.
The scammer may ask several times “can you hear me?”, to which people would usually reply “yes.”
The scammer is then believed to record the “yes” response and end the call.
That recording of the victim’s voice can then be used to authorise payments or charges in the victim’s name through voice recognition.
Are there really banking systems that use voice recognition of the word “yes” to authenticate? I have never heard of that.
Posted on May 12, 2017 at 6:00 AM •
LyreBird is a system that can accurately reproduce the voice of someone, given a large amount of sample inputs. It’s pretty good—listen to the demo here—and will only get better over time.
The applications for recorded-voice forgeries are obvious, but I think the larger security risk will be real-time forgery. Imagine the social engineering implications of an attacker on the telephone being able to impersonate someone the victim knows.
I don’t think we’re ready for this. We use people’s voices to authenticate them all the time, in all sorts of different ways.
EDITED TO ADD (5/11): This is from 2003 on the topic.
Posted on May 4, 2017 at 10:31 AM •
It’s not hard to imagine the criminal possibilities of automation, autonomy, and artificial intelligence. But the imaginings are becoming mainstream—and the future isn’t too far off.
Along similar lines, computers are able to predict court verdicts. My guess is that the real use here isn’t to predict actual court verdicts, but for well-paid defense teams to test various defensive tactics.
Posted on October 26, 2016 at 6:38 AM •
Yet another leaked catalog of Internet attack services, this one specializing in disinformation:
But Aglaya had much more to offer, according to its brochure. For eight to 12 weeks campaigns costing €2,500 per day, the company promised to “pollute” internet search results and social networks like Facebook and Twitter “to manipulate current events.” For this service, which it labelled “Weaponized Information,” Aglaya offered “infiltration,” “ruse,” and “sting” operations to “discredit a target” such as an “individual or company.”
“[We] will continue to barrage information till it gains ‘traction’ & top 10 search results yield a desired results on ANY Search engine,” the company boasted as an extra “benefit” of this service.
Aglaya also offered censorship-as-a-service, or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, for only €600 a day, using botnets to “send dummy traffic” to targets, taking them offline, according to the brochure. As part of this service, customers could buy an add-on to “create false criminal charges against Targets in their respective countries” for a more costly €1 million.
Some of Aglaya’s offerings, according to experts who reviewed the document for Motherboard, are likely to be exaggerated or completely made-up. But the document shows that there are governments interested in these services, which means there will be companies willing to fill the gaps in the market and offer them.
Posted on September 6, 2016 at 2:27 PM •
IPv4 addresses are valuable, so criminals are figuring out how to buy or steal them.
Hence criminals’ interest in ways to land themselves IP addresses, some of which were detailed this week by ARIN’s senior director of global registry knowledge, Leslie Nobile, at the North American Network Operators Group’s NANOG 67 conference.
Nobile explained that criminals look for dormant ARIN records and try to establish themselves as the rightful administrator. ARIN has 30,556 legacy network records, she said, but a validated point of contact for only 54 per cent of those networks. The remaining ~14,000 networks are ripe for targeting by hijackers who Nobile said are only interested in establishing legitimacy with ARIN so they can find a buyer for unused IPv4 addresses possessed by dormant legacy networks.
Criminals do so by finding dormant ARIN records and Whois data to see if there is a valid contact, then ascertaining if IPv4 allocations are currently routed. If the assigned addresses are dark and no active administrator exists, hijackers can revive dormant domain names or even re-register the names of defunct companies in order to establish a position as legitimate administrators of an address space. If all goes well, the hijackers end up with addresses to sell.
Video presentation here.
Posted on June 22, 2016 at 1:15 PM •
Khan was arrested in mid-July 2015. Undercover police officers posing as company managers arrived at his workplace and asked to check his driver and work records, according to the source. When they disputed where he was on a particular day, he got out his iPhone and showed them the record of his work.
The undercover officers asked to see his iPhone and Khan handed it over. After that, he was arrested. British police had 30 seconds to change the password settings to keep the phone open.
Reminds me about how the FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht:
The agents had tailed him, waiting for the 29-year-old to open his computer and enter his passwords before swooping in.
That also works.
And, yes, I understand that none of this would have worked with the already dead Syed Farook and his iPhone.
Posted on April 7, 2016 at 6:39 AM •
Brian Krebs has the story. Bottom line: PayPal has no excuse for this kind of stuff. I hope the public shaming incents them to offer better authentication for their customers.
Posted on December 29, 2015 at 12:25 PM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.