On Christmas Day, 2011, Apple product users were targeted by a major phishing attack. The Mac Security Blog reported, “A vast phishing attack has broken out, beginning on or around Christmas day, with emails being sent with the subject ‘Apple update your Billing Information.’ These well-crafted emails could fool many new Apple users, especially those who may have found an iPhone, iPod or iMac under their Christmas tree, and set up accounts with the iTunes Store or the Mac App Store for the first time. The messages claim to come from appleidATidDOTappleDOTcom.”
As in most phishing emails, the template and body of the message mimicked Apple’s logo, design, colors, and font. When users clicked links within the email, they were directed to a spoofed website that also had the same Apple feel. Once users entered their personal information, they might be thanked for “updating” their account, or simply wind up in the Internet abyss.
One way to determine whether an email is legitimate is to hover your curser over any links and look at the text displayed. If a link isn’t something like http://store.apple.com or https://appleid.apple.com, it’s a fake. To learn more about how to recognize a phishing attempt, watch this video from McAfee.
While I’m on the subject, however, I may as well mention that I don’t recommend clicking any links within emails, regardless of what the domain says. The safest way to determine whether your account needs updating is to log into your Apple account directly, at https://appleid.apple.com. If there is a problem, you will be notified via internal messages within your account. If not, assume the email is a phish and delete!
And remember, just because you are using a Mac, it does not mean that you are safe from web threats, so make sure you stay educated on the latest threats, use comprehensive security software and be wary of things that sound too good to be true.