According to the CEO of Wordfence (WordPress’ security plug in), Mark Maunder, there is a new phishing technique which attacks many mail services. The most affected of them is Gmail and users have begun worrying that their accounts might become unusable. This method is reportedly highly effective and each Gmail user should be careful not to fall victim to it.
A technique affecting lots of users
How does this new phishing technique work? Maunder says that the attacker sends an e-mail to your Gmail account. The problem is that you might know that address because it might belong to a friend whose address has already been hacked. So, when the user tries to open the e-mail, it will automatically open a new tab which will direct him to a fake login screen. The e-mail may sometimes contain an image of an attachment, also familiar. Users should not make the mistake of putting in their name and password because in that moment, the attackers will steal your account. After this is done, your fake e-mail address will automatically send similar messages to everyone on your contacts list.
The attackers sign in immediately and begin sending all those e-mails to your friends. A teacher explained that he fell victim to this phishing method and that an entire athletic team received a fake-email from him, which looked very legit. It is unknown if the attackers are sending these messages automatically or if they have an entire team ready to send them once they receive the data. The point is that it is dangerous because they gain access to your entire list of e-mails, both sent and received and can steal and use them.
Users need to be careful
Maunder says that to protect themselves from this phishing attack, users will need to check their location bar in the browser. In order to work, this method uses something called “data URL”. The bar should not contain a huge chunk of text towards the end. If it does, you will need to immediately close the page. However, if you still log in, you will need to immediately change your password. This way, they cannot access your address any longer. This is actually something that each user should do regularly, and use difficult passwords.
Another method to protect yourself would be to check you Gmail account activity. Open Gmail and click on the Details tab, in the right corner of the page. It should show you all the history of the log ins and log outs. Here you can also see currently active sessions. So, if you see someone logged in from your account, you should immediately force close it. If the places where these sessions are active from are unknown, your account might already be gone.
All in all, each user should know about these kinds of attacks and especially how to stop or avoid them. There are, of course, cases when you cannot do anything and your account becomes unusable. Still, there are some simple steps which you can take to not end up there. Start with changing your password frequently.
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