Consumer, Family Safety, Identity Protection

Spear Phishing Leaves a Bloody Wound

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By on Jun 24, 2011

Once criminal hackers get a person’s username and email address, they can begin to launch a targeted spear phish scam. Scammers copy the design of each breached entities outgoing email campaign and blast the breached list with “account update” or other ruses.

Gaming site Sega Pass was hacked. On the Sega Pass website it states, “we had identified that unauthorized entry was gained to our Sega Pass database.” Numerous outlets report hackers stole Sega Pass members’ email addresses, dates of birth, and encrypted passwords.

The recent Epsilon data breach resulted in a similar loss of data. Epsilon is a marketing company that sends over 40 billion emails a year, and keeps millions of consumer email addresses on file. When hackers breached Epsilon’s database, the email subscriber lists for over 100 major companies were compromised.

Consumers received breach notifications from financial institutions including Citigroup, Capital One, and JPMorgan Chase, and from hotels such as the Marriot and the Hilton.

All of these organizations customers are eternally susceptible to spear phish scams.

The Wall Street Journal reports that GlaxoSmithKline sent email notifications to consumers who had registered with any of GlaxoSmithKline’s websites for prescription or nonprescription drugs and products, warning that consumers’ names and email addresses had been hacked, and that the stolen data may have included the specific product websites where consumers registered.

GlaxoSmithKline provides medications that help victims of HIV and mental health disorders. The possibility of the stolen data being used to target the ill with spear phishing attacks is a major concern.

These kinds of breaches will have long-lasting effects on the public.

Never disclose personal information or login credentials in response to an unsolicited email. Never click links in an unsolicited email. Instead, use your bookmarks menu or type the address into your browser’s address bar. If your email address has been compromised, consider switching to a new address. Create new, unique passwords, without repeating the same password for multiple accounts.

With more than 11 million victims just last year identity theft is a serious concern.  McAfee Identity Protection offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your financial accounts. Educate and protect yourself – please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him explain how a person becomes an identity theft victim on CounterIdentityTheft.com (Disclosures)

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