Something Smells Phishy

A coworker of mine had a close call with a phisher today. After working together with him for a few minutes (and reporting the criminal to Yahoo, which is the unwitting web host), I learned some new tricks and information to help find out if the e-mail being sent is a phishing attempt.

Just a quick note about how phishing usually works – you end up on a fake page that looks identical to the bank's normal login page. When you try to log in, it gives you an error saying that your password was wrong (no matter what you do, you'll get this error message). Behind the scenes, the phishing program is collecting your name and password, probably in a secure database somewhere. At that point the phisher's will use your password to access your account and pay all of your bills, without even expecting a simple thank you. That's the kind of people they are.

Anyway, the first thing I should point out is: NEVER access your bank's website directly from an e-mail. Even if you're 1000% sure that the e-mail is legitimate, simply open up a new web browser and enter the bank's address directly.

Here's why: the phishers are able to (quite easily) create website addresses that look almost the same as banks' addresses. For example, the address might be washingtonmutal.com or washingtonmutual.com.securebanking.com. In the first case, the website is merely spelled differently. In the second case, there's all sorts of junk at the end that indicates that the website is not washingtonmutual.com, but securebanking.com.

The second thing they do is make the link look like it is pointing to one address, and have the actual link go to another location. For example:
http://www.google.com/search?q=phishing&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official
looks like a search for phishing, but if you click on it, it's actually a search for (horrors) yodayid! Like most Republican policies, the differences between appearance and reality can be subtle, but the eventual results are horrific (zing!).

Anyway, right now, that's where phishers are, technologically speaking. It still takes that mouse click from you to go to the phony web page. So DON'T CLICK IT!

Safe Surfing,

–YY

p.s. Ok, so my example wasn't all that subtle. Maybe because I'm not a phisher?

p.p.s. My first PSA… awwwww :-)

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