Symantec put out a report this week revealing that phishers in the Middle East are using the Syrian conflict as context for their scams. It’s quite common for phishers to use current events, but I think we can all agree, this is pretty messed up.
Sadly, just monetizing the conflict isn’t the only bad part here.
The scam spoofs a Middle Eastern social networking site and offers victims a torture video of a prisoner in the Syrian prison, State Security Branch Khatib.
So, in a nutshell, we have scammers taking advantage of a violent civil war in order to fleece money from snuff seekers. Classy stuff.
The title of the phishing site translated to “Liberal torture in the State Security Branch Khatib”. The site warned that the video contained scenes of violence and asked users for their permission before proceeding. After permission had been granted, users were prompted to enter their login credentials. The login credentials were allegedly required to confirm that the user was over 18 years of age. After the login credentials had been entered, the same phishing page was reloaded. If users fell victim to the phishing site, phishers would have successfully stolen their information for identity theft. [Symantec]
Frequently, phishers compromise files on target computers for their scams, but in this incident, the actual domain was compromised.
One thing that’s important to remember: this kind of scam relies not on complicated hacking, but human vulnerability. No matter what security measures you take, if you don’t surf smartly and carefully, this kind of thing could happen to you.
Symantec provides the following guidelines for staying safe:
- Do not click on suspicious links in email messages
- Do not provide any personal information when answering an email
- Do not enter personal information in a pop-up page or screen
- Ensure the website is encrypted with an SSL certificate by looking for the padlock, ‘https’, or the green address bar when entering personal or financial information
- Update your security software (such as Norton Internet Security 2012) frequently which protects you from online phishing