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The Best Gmail Phishing Scam Ever!

If you use Gmail, pay attention! Security experts have announced that there is a very effective phishing scam out there, and you are a target. This scam, which has only been growing over the past couple of months, is also hitting other email providers, too. However, it’s quite difficult to detect.

According to researchers at WordFence, who make a security tool for WordPress, this is a pretty serious attack and can have quite an impact, even for those who are up on security.

Here’s how it works:

You get an email from someone you trust…like a friend or family member or Google. The email, however, is actually not from them. It just looks like it is. Attached to the email is an attachment, which, when opened, links to a fake Google sign-in page. Everything about this Google sign-in page looks legit…but the address in the address bar is not…and here’s where it gets tricky. The address bar actually has a URL that looks real: https://accounts.google.com. However, before that address is whats called a “data URI”. Google it. This is NOT a URL. Instead, it allows the hackers to get your username and password as soon as you enter them into the fake login screen. To make things even worse, once they sign into your actual inbox, they use your information, including attachments and emails, to target your contacts.

Protecting Yourself From This Scam

If you are a Google Chrome user, you can protect yourself by taking a look at the address bar before clicking anything. A green lock symbol is your indicator that it is safe to browse. However, there are some scammers out there who have created their own site that are HTTPS-protected…which also means they will have a green lock. So, also take a look at the address.

Another thing that you can do is add in two-step authentication, which is an extra layer of security. Ultimately, it will help to lower the odds that your account will be compromised. You also might want to consider a security token, as well. If you don’t use two-step authentication with every account that offers it (Facebook, Twitter, iCloud etc), you’re a bit foolish my friend.

Google is aware of the issue, and they are working on improving security for their users. In the meantime, remain vigilant as you browse.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

6 Ways to prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Hacking isn’t just about weak passwords and single-factor authentication. A lot of it occurs because people can be so easily tricked into giving up personal information: the craft of social engineering. Example: “Download this video of Kim K fully naked!” How many men would be lured into clicking this gateway to a viral infection? We are a sad species.

11DThe victim isn’t always a goofball like this. They can be a tech support agent tricked into resetting a password and handing it over. Often, the victims don’t even know they were targeted until well after the fact, if ever.

  1. Just say no—to giving out personal information. Social engineering can occur over the phone: someone pretending to be your bank, asking for your private information. Always contact any institution for verification they want your private data before blindly giving it out.
  2. Be scrupulous with security questions. Don’t answer ones that a hacker can easily get the answer to, such as “City you were born.” Choose the most obscure questions from the list. If all seem rather basic, though, then give answers that make no sense, such as “Planet Neptune” for the city you were born in. If you fear being unable to remember these answers, put the answers in an encrypted file or password manager.
  3. Do you get e-mails about password resets? Be careful. Contact the service provider to see if the e-mail is legitimate.
  4. You’ve probably heard this before, but here it is again: Never use the same password for multiple accounts! In the same vein, don’t use the same security questions, even though the list of security questions from one service provider to the next is usually the same list of questions. Do your best to use as much of a variety of questions as possible, and don’t forget, you can always give crazy answers to the same question for different accounts.
  5. Keep an eye on your accounts and their activity. Account providers such as Gmail have dashboards that show where you’re logged in and what tools or apps are connected. This includes financial and social media accounts.
  6. Beware of emails coming from anyone, for any reason that require you to click links for any reason. Social engineering via email is one of the true successful ways to con someone. Just be ridiculously aware.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

6 Ways to Secure Your Email Account

On August 30th, 1982, a copyright for a Computer Program for Electronic Mail System was issued to Shiva Ayvadurai. Thus, email was born. 32 years later, email has become an essential part of our lives. Emails are a must-have item,
allowing us to connect and share information with friends, teachers, and co-workers.

emailTo celebrate email’s birthday, here are 6 ways to secure your email account.

  1. Think twice before opening unfamiliar emails. Do you open your front door to just anyone? Of course not. Don’t open strange emails or any email that you’re not completely confident in.
  2. Be cautious about email links and attachments. Hackers use links and attachments to download nasty malware onto your computer. If an email seems suspicious, don’t click or download anything.
  3. Use 2-step verification. Email services like Gmail allow you to enable two-step verification because it adds more security to your account. After you enter a password and username, you enter a code sent by the email service to your phone when you sign in.
  4. Beware of public computers. Never use a public computer to log into your email accounts, not even your cousin’s or best friend’s computer—you don’t know if they’ve been infected.
  5. Use strong, unique passwords. If your password is “password”, you might want to change it to something more unique. I recommend a password with 8 or more characters with a mix of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, and numbers.
  6. Use comprehensive security software. McAfee LiveSafe™ service can make protecting your email even easier with a strong firewall to block hackers, viruses, and worms and a password manager to help you remember all of your logins.

Happy Birthday email!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

10 Ways to protect your Gmail Account

Protecting your Gmail account means you must activate some tools that Google offers, and you must increase your scam savvy intelligence in order to spot phishing scams. If you do both, you can have a very well-protected Gmail account.

2D#1. Google 2 Step Verification. This is the Holy Grail of account security. Not really, but it’s the best they have available. With 2 Step you get a onetime log in code to a secondary device like a mobile phone via text or the “Google Authenticator” app. I like text best. This will surely protect your Gmail account because a hacker would need access to this secondary device to bust into your account, since Google would require a six-digit unique code for this second device to access your account.

Speaking of codes, you can generate a number of one-time codes that you can use in the event of a mishap such as losing your device; you can use these codes to access your account from a temporary device.

#2. Stay out of Googles spam folder. Learn to ignore spam.Must you open every e-mail? Google does a pretty good job of spam/phish filtering. Leave the phishy/spammy messages alone and you’ll be in good shape.

Most malicious or “phishing” e-mails are very obvious, with any of the following in their subject lines:

–       Get back to me

–       Your money is waiting

–       If you don’t read this now you’ll hate yourself

–       Claim your reward

However, some subject lines look less suspicious, like “Your Amazon.com order has shipped.” If you use a unique e-mail account solely for Amazon or eBay, and then promise yourself never to click on a link inside the e-mail, you’ll be fine.

#3. Never give out your password.

Remember: If someone requests your Google account password, it’s malicious. If you think Google wants your password, don’t give it via any link in an e-mail. Instead go to https://www.gmail.com or https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin and login.

#4. Account recovery options: Keep up to date. Always keep your mobile phone number current because it’s what Google uses to send you a security code. So if a hacker gets your Gmail account password, it’s useless unless they have your smartphone number, which Google will use to send you that code to prove your identity.

#5. Have a recovery e-mail address that’s also up-to-date because Google uses this strictly for sending security codes for when you forget a password. You should have this second e-mail address also because Google will use it to send important security information.

#6. Secondary e-mail address. This is in addition to the recovery address mentioned prior because you can use this alternate to sign into your Gmail account. Note, however, that this alternate address must not be part of your Gmail account or even associated with a second Google account.

#7. Use secure connections. Gmail should always be set to use a secure connection, denoted by HTTPS before the URL. Go to Settings, General, Browser Connection to set it up. Use a secure VPN for logging in. Hotspot Shield protects and encrypts your wireless connections.

#8. Strong & long is the name of the game. Enough of passwords like Puppylover1, carfiend1979 and Darlingmama. Don’t use words that can be found in a dictionary. Include symbols like #, * and $. The more nonsensical and longer the password, the better. Next, do not ever use your Google password for any other account. Your e-mail passwords should be equally nonsensical.

#9. Incognito. Use the “incognito” or “private” mode in browsers when you’re on a public or shared computer such as at a hotel. These modes will prevent cookies, web history and other data formation from getting stored. If these modes are not available, clear your cookies and browsing history when you LOG OUT.

#10. Finally, to protect your Gmail account, keep your system up-to-date and secure with anti-virus and anti-malware.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

How to Reset Your Gmail Password After Being Hacked

I finally got one of those “I’m stuck in London” emails. My friend Kate’s Gmail account was hacked, and everyone on her contact list received an email from a hacker posing as Kate:

“Hi, Apologies, but I made a quick trip, to London,United Kingdom and got mugged, my bag, stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it. The embassy is willing to help by authorizing me to fly without on a temporary identification, instead of a passport, I just have to pay for a ticket and settle Hotel bills. Unfortunately,I can’t have access to funds without my credit card, I’ve made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one. I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that Ican give back as soon as I get in. I really need to be on the next available flight back home. Get back to me so I can send you details on how to get money to me. You canreach me via email  or hotel’s desk phone, +44208359**** waiting for your response. Kate”

The hacker also created a replica of her Gmail address using Yahoo’s webmail service, and set Kate’s Gmail account to automatically forward all messages to the Yahoo address.

As soon as I received this email, I called Kate and left her a message letting her know she’d been hacked, and asked her to call me with an alternative email address.

Then I responded to the hacker:

“Kate I will help you. Where do I send money? Robert”

The hacker wrote back:

“Robert, Thanks for responding, I need about $2000, can you make a western union transfer to me? I will pay back once am home, let me know what you can do ASAP thanks.

See details needed for western union
Receiver: Kate [redacted]
City: London
United Kingdom

What you need to do, is take cash or a debit card to a western union agent location and request to make transfer to me in United Kingdom. You can get the address of a nearby WU agent from this website

You will email me the mtcn number for the transfer so I can receive the money here, I have an embassy issued identification, which I will use to get the money from WU Thanks Kate”

I wrote:

“Send me a picture. I want to see your pretty face! What did you see in your travels? Did you talk to Mum this week?”

The hacker responded:

“Did you send the money yet?”

I wrote:

“You didnt answer me.”

At this point, the hacker figured out what I was doing, and blew me off:

“Don’t bother, I no longer need your help”

It’s hard to scambait these guys because they’re much more aware of how scambaiting works. Plus, I’m not that good at it.

The hacker and I then got into an unproductive series of email exchanges calling each other nasty words.

When the real Kate called me back, I sent her this Google Help link explaining how to reset your password if you’ve been hacked. Google also offers help accessing a Gmail or Google Apps account that has been taken over by a hacker.

If you haven’t already created a secondary email address that can be used to recover an inaccessible Gmail account, do that now. (This feature isn’t currently available for Google Apps.)

Once Kate went through this process, she regained control of her account within minutes. But the criminal had deleted every single email, leaving her with nothing. He’s probably going through those messages now, searching for any useful personal information.

Kate then sent me an email, thanking me, and I noticed that the Yahoo email address was still being copied, meaning that the hacker was still seeing every email sent to Kate’s Gmail account. If you’ve been hacked, check your Gmail settings to make sure your messages aren’t being forwarded automatically.

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 discuss identity theft on YouTube. (Disclosures)