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Jump to: navigation, search Not to be confused with fishing, pish, or Phish.
An example of a phishing e-mail, disguised as an official e-mail from a (fictional) bank. The sender is attempting to trick the recipient into revealing confidential information by "confirming" it at the phisher's website. Note the misspelling of the words received and discrepancy. Such mistakes are common in most phishing emails. Also note that although the URL of the bank's webpage appears to be legitimate, it actually links to the phisher's webpage. In the field of computer security, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Even when using server authentication, it may require tremendous skill to detect that the website is fake. Phishing is an example of social engineering techniques used to fool users, and exploits the poor usability of current web security technologies. Attempts to deal with the growing number of reported phishing incidents include legislation, user training, public awareness, and technical security measures. A phishing technique was described in detail in 1987, and the first recorded use of the term "phishing" was made in 1996. The term is a variant of fishing, probably influenced by phreaking, and alludes to baits used to "catch" financial information and passwords.
2 Browsers alerting users to fraudulent websites 4.1 Social responses o 4.4 Website forgery o 2. although the term may have appeared earlier in the print edition of the hacker magazine 2600.online-service.1.3 Augmenting password logins 4.2.1 Fundamental flaws in the security model of secure browsing 4.3 Legal responses 5 See also 6 References 7 External links  History and current status of phishing A phishing technique was described in detail in 1987.[hide] • • • • • • • 1 History and current status of phishing o 1. in a paper and presentation delivered to the International HP Users Group. Interex. After AOL brought in measures in late 1995 to prevent using fake.2 Link manipulation o 2.3 Filter evasion o 2.2.4 Eliminating phishing mail 4.2. The first recorded mention of the term "phishing" is on the alt.5 Monitoring and takedown o 4.1 Helping to identify legitimate websites 4.1 Recent phishing attempts o 2.5 Phone phishing o 2.2.6 Other techniques 3 Damage caused by phishing 4 Anti-phishing o 4.America-online Usenet newsgroup on January 2. 1996.  Early phishing on AOL Phishing on AOL was closely associated with the warez community that exchanged pirated software and the hacking scene that perpetrated credit card fraud and other online crimes.2.2 Technical responses 4.2 Transition from AOL to financial institutions 2 Phishing techniques o 2.2.1 Early phishing on AOL o 1. .
the attacker could access and use the victim's account for fraudulent purposes or spamming. and many phishers—often young teens—grew out of the habit. The shutting down of the warez scene on AOL caused most phishers to leave the service. By 2004.reported to AOL TOS department for disciplinary action. AOL simultaneously developed a system to promptly deactivate accounts involved in phishing. Phishing became so prevalent on AOL that they added a line on all instant messages stating: "no one working at AOL will ask for your password or billing information". asking him to reveal his password.) After 1997. In order to lure the victim into giving up sensitive information the message might include imperatives like "verify your account" or "confirm billing information". which were assembled into finished attacks. phishing was recognized as a fully industrialized part of the economy of crime: specializations emerged on a global scale that provided components for cash. The first known direct attempt against a payment system affected E-gold in June 2001. AOL's policy enforcement with respect to phishing and warez became stricter and forced pirated software off AOL servers.algorithmically generated credit card numbers to open accounts. Both were viewed at the time as failures.  Phishing techniques  Recent phishing attempts .  Transition from AOL to financial institutions The capture of AOL account information may have led phishers to misuse credit card information. A user using both an AIM account and an AOL account from an ISP simultaneously could phish AOL members with relative impunity as internet AIM accounts could be used by non-AOL internet members and could not be actioned (ie. which was followed up by a "post-9/11 id check" shortly after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. such as AOHell. often before the victims could respond. but can now be seen as early experiments towards more fruitful attacks against mainstream banks. Both phishing and warezing on AOL generally required custom-written programs. AOL crackers resorted to phishing for legitimate accounts and exploiting AOL. A phisher might pose as an AOL staff member and send an instant message to a potential victim. though even this didn't prevent some people from giving away their passwords and personal information if they read and believed the IM first. and to the realization that attacks against online payment systems were feasible. Once the victim had revealed the password.
account numbers and email addresses as well as their names. Such sites often provide specific details about the particular messages. Social networking sites are now a prime target of phishing. which removes speed caps on downloads.  Link manipulation . recent research has shown that phishers may in principle be able to determine which banks potential victims use.  There are anti-phishing websites which publish exact messages that have been recently circulating the internet. supposedly from the Internal Revenue Service. taxpayers. in late 2006 a computer worm took over pages on MySpace and altered links to direct surfers to websites designed to steal login details. such as FraudWatch International and Millersmiles. since the personal details in such sites can be used in identity theft. dates of birth. Attackers who broke into TD Ameritrade's database (containing all 6. Almost half of phishing thefts in 2006 were committed by groups operating through the Russian Business Network based in St.  Experiments show a success rate of over 70% for phishing attacks on social networks.3 million customers' social security numbers. and target bogus e-mails accordingly. and the term whaling has been coined for these kinds of attacks. auto-removal of uploads. While the first such examples were sent indiscriminately in the expectation that some would be received by customers of a given bank or service. so they launched a follow-up spear phishing attack.S.A chart showing the increase in phishing reports from October 2004 to June 2005 Phishers are targeting the customers of banks and online payment services.  The RapidShare file sharing site has been targeted by phishing to obtain a premium account. Petersburg. phone numbers and trading activity) also wanted the account usernames and passwords. waits on downloads. addresses. and cooldown times between downloads. the link being hosted by T35 Web Hosting and people are losing their accounts. Some people are being victim to a Facebook Scam. Targeted versions of phishing have been termed spear phishing. Several recent phishing attacks have been directed specifically at senior executives and other high profile targets within businesses. have been used to glean sensitive data from U. E-mails.
It is estimated that between May 2004 and May 2005. then to place a popup window requesting credentials on top of the website in a way that it appears the bank is requesting this sensitive information..everything from the web address to the security certificates appears correct. 3.6 million adults lost US $ 3. making it very difficult to spot without specialist knowledge. phishers have begun to use Flash-based websites.300 were made good. Just such a flaw was used in 2006 against PayPal. discovered by RSA Security. from £12.  Other techniques Another attack used successfully is to forward the client to a bank's legitimate website.  Phone phishing Not all phishing attacks require a fake website. but hide the text in a multimedia object.2m in 2005.2 billion in the 12 months ending in August 2007. when the first spate of phishing attacks hit the Irish Republic's banking sector in September 2006." Similarly. The stance adopted by the UK banking body APACS is that "customers must also take sensible precautions . approximately 1. the link to the website is crafted to carry out the attack. United States businesses lose an estimated US$2 billion per year as their clients become victims. so that they are not vulnerable to the criminal. Vishing (voice phishing) sometimes uses fake caller-ID data to give the appearance that calls come from a trusted organization. Microsoft claims these estimates are grossly exaggerated and puts the annual phishing loss in the US at $60 million. In the United Kingdom losses from web banking fraud—mostly from phishing —almost doubled to £23. A Universal Man-in-the-middle Phishing Kit. In reality. prompts told users to enter their account numbers and PIN. while 1 in 20 computer users claimed to have lost out to phishing in 2005. To avoid anti-phishing techniques that scan websites for phishing-related text. the Bank of Ireland initially refused to cover losses suffered by its customers (and it still insists that its policy is not to do so). and provided by a Voice over IP service) was dialed.2m in 2004.2 million computer users in the United States suffered losses caused by phishing. provides a simple-to-use interface that allows a phisher to convincingly reproduce websites and capture log-in details entered at the fake site. although losses to the tune of €11. Messages that claimed to be from a bank told users to dial a phone number regarding problems with their bank accounts.  Damage caused by phishing The damage caused by phishing ranges from denial of access to e-mail to substantial financial loss. These look much like the real website.. In 2007 phishing attacks escalated. Once the phone number (owned by the phisher. totaling approximately US$929 million. .
which uses phishing e-mails targeted at a specific company. including United States Military Academy at West Point. even well-known players are known to incite users to . One newer phishing tactic. always address their customers by their username in e-mails. so if an e-mail addresses the recipient in a generic fashion ("Dear PayPal customer") it is likely to be an attempt at phishing. People can take steps to avoid phishing attempts by slightly modifying their browsing habits. rather than trusting any hyperlinks in the suspected phishing message. Nearly all legitimate e-mail messages from companies to their customers contain an item of information that is not readily available to phishers. Anti-phishing There are several different techniques to combat phishing. Phishing attempts in early 2006. Furthermore. When contacted about an account needing to be "verified" (or any other topic used by phishers). especially where training provides direct feedback. Some companies. The Anti-Phishing Working Group. an industry and law enforcement association. used personalized information. which makes it unsafe to assume that the presence of personal information alone guarantees that a message is legitimate. recent research has shown that the public do not typically distinguish between the first few digits and the last few digits of an account number—a significant problem since the first few digits are often the same for all clients of a financial institution. Education can be effective. Everyone can help educate the public by encouraging safe practices. has suggested that conventional phishing techniques could become obsolete in the future as people are increasingly aware of the social engineering techniques used by phishers. However.  Social responses One strategy for combating phishing is to train people to recognize phishing attempts. which suggests that most people do not pay attention to such details. NY. including legislation and technology created specifically to protect against phishing. and by avoiding dangerous ones. In a June 2004 experiment with spear phishing. E-mails from banks and credit card companies often include partial account numbers. the address that the individual knows is the company's genuine website can be typed into the address bar of the browser. and to deal with them. for example PayPal. They predict that pharming and other uses of malware will become more common tools for stealing information. has been harnessed to train individuals at various locations. it is a sensible precaution to contact the company from which the e-mail apparently originates to check that the e-mail is legitimate. People can be trained to have their suspicion aroused if the message does not contain any specific personal information. another recent study concluded in part that the presence of personal information does not significantly affect the success rate of phishing attacks. known as spear phishing. 80% of 500 West Point cadets who were sent a fake e-mail were tricked into revealing personal information. however. Alternatively. Unfortunately.
such as email. The superficial flaw is that the browser's security user interface (UI) is insufficient to deal with today's strong threats. this is easy to trick. A condition for meaningful server authentication is to have a server identifier that is meaningful to the user. which replaced certain high-value certificates with a green display. so that the authentication becomes meaningless.g. by requesting their users to reveal their passwords for third party services. (December 2008) The neutrality of this section is disputed. adding to the opportunity for confusion. The user is expected to confirm that the domain name in the browser's URL bar was in fact where they intended to go. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. Unfortunately. The standard display for secure browsing from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s was the padlock. Simply displaying the domain name for the visited website as some anti-phishing toolbars do is not sufficient. which is easily missed by the user. where the website's URL is used as identifier. Users often do not know or recognise the URL of the legitimate sites they intend to connect to. Which Site. and other certificates with a white display. URLs can be too complex to be easily parsed. The following are some of the main approaches to the problem. (December 2008) Most websites targeted for phishing are secure websites. and need to be confirmed by/to the user. Please see the discussion on the talk page. There are three parts to secure authentication using TLS and certificates: indicating that the connection is in authenticated mode. e. See the talk page for details. this innovation was then reversed due to the EV certificates. Secure Connection. and this was SSL v2's design requirement and the meta of secure browsing. indicating which site the user is connected to. meaning that SSL with strong cryptography is used for server authentication.hazardous behaviour. Mozilla fielded a yellow URL bar in 2005 as a better indication of the secure connection. But in practice. All three are necessary for authentication. and indicating which authority says it is this site. In theory it should be possible for the SSL authentication to be used to confirm the site to the user.  Technical responses Anti-phishing measures have been implemented as features embedded in browsers. and as part of website login procedures.  Helping to identify legitimate websites This section may contain previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. . many ecommerce sites will change the domain names within their overall set of websites. as extensions or toolbars for browsers.
As the CA is only charged with protecting its own customers. as far as the user is concerned.  Fundamental flaws in the security model of secure browsing . This presents the CA as a brand. Who is the Authority. browser vendors have chosen to limit this prominent display only to EV certificates. regardless of attempts by browser vendors to control the quality. and therefore the browser is the authority. There is resistance to CAs being branded on the chrome. This solution was first put into practice in early IE7 versions.An alternate approach is the petname extension for Firefox which lets users type in their own labels for websites. The use of brand is also critical to providing the CA with an incentive to improve their checking. as the user will learn the brand and demand good checking for high-value sites. which is much more visible and is hopefully more consistent with the user's expectations. a highvalue site may be easily spoofed by a valid certificate provided by another CA. This could be because the CA is in another part of the world. The browser needs to state who the authority is that makes the claim of who the user is connected to. resulting in a fallback to the simplest level above: the browser is the user's authority. If the site is not recognised. and is unfamiliar with high-value ecommerce sites. both of these are easily perverted by fraudsters. This was an isolated case. leaving the user to fend for himself with all other certificates. Certificate Manufacturing is the name given to low-value certificates that are delivered on a credit card and an email confirmation. no authority is stated. The browser vendors take on this responsibility by controlling a root list of acceptable CAs. and the user should be familiar with. or it could be that no care is taken at all. The problem with this is that not all certification authorities (CAs) employ equally good nor applicable checking. In that display. and allows the user to learn the handful of CAs that she is likely to come into contact within her country and her sector. when displaying EV certificates. the issuing CA is displayed. Unfortunately. the name of the authority.  Nor do all CAs subscribe to the same model and concept that certificates are only about authenticating ecommerce organisations. At the simplest level. This is the current standard practice. With the advent of EV certificates. browsers now typically display the organisation's name in green. and not the customers of other CAs. This represents user-centric identity management of server identities. however. so they can later recognize when they have returned to the site. then the software may either warn the user or block the site outright. this flaw is inherent in the model. Some suggest that a graphical image selected by the user is better than a petname. Hence. The solution to this is that the browser should show.
Click-thru syndrome. and security standards committees.g. ecommerce owners. CA. and now. all participants look to the others as the source of the failures leading to phishing. users are accustomed to treat all warnings with the same disdain. not seeing it as a security fix but instead a new feature. Webserver vendors do not prioritise the Server Name Indication (TLS/SNI) fix. Even today. This has caused a general lack of knowledge and resources in authentication within TLS. The specific causes are a lack of support for Server Name Indication in TLS webservers. Matters improved slightly with the CAB Forum. but these were dropped in the first release. and were not down-graded. However. regulators (e. The original design of Netscape's browser included a prominent display of the name of the site and the CA's name. Firefox 3 has a 4-click process for adding an exception. browser vendor. Because secure browsing was put into place before any threat was evident. as well as a lack of parity between the participants. expiry). The security model for secure browser includes many participants: user. etc. auditors and CAs. as the vast majority of warnings will be for misconfigurations not real MITMs. The result is that the use of authentication is too rare to be anything but a special case. Another underlying factor is the lack of support for virtual hosting. hence the local fixes are not prioritised. and the result suffered from commercial interests of the first players. Lateral communications. auditor. developers. webserver vendor.. . FDIC). the security display lost out in the "real estate wars" of the early browsers. then the browser would commonly launch a popup to warn the user. the users learned to bypass the warnings. as that group includes browser vendors. but it has been shown to be ignored by an experienced user in a real case of MITM. Lack of interest. and does not include representation from small CAs. and the expense and inconvenience of acquiring certificates. There is a lack of communication between different groups that are committed to the security model. it is hard to see how click-thru syndrome will ever be avoided. Even today. although the understanding of authentication is strong at the protocol level of the IETF committees. resulting in Clickthru syndrome. end-users. CAB forum is not open. but have also exposed fundamental flaws in the security model. this message does not reach the UI groups. As the reason was generally misconfiguration.Experiments to improve the security UI have resulted in benefits. ecommerce site. In practice. which in turn has meant that the attempts by browser vendors to upgrade their security UIs have been slow and lacklustre. The underlying causes for the failure of the SSL authentication to be employed properly in secure browsing are many and intertwined. E.. Users are now highly experienced in not checking security information at all. But the group did not start out in an open fashion. For example. If a certificate had an error in it (mismatched domain name. Security before threat.g. warnings to poorly configured sites continued.
Threat models can re-invent themselves in around a month. and Opera all contain this type of anti-phishing measure. Vendors commit to standards.  Augmenting password logins The Bank of America's website is one of several that ask users to select a personal image. but did not push for any substantial changes to be made. several site owners have altered the images to send a message to the visitor that a site may be fraudulent. However.1 uses live blacklists from PhishTank and GeoTrust. or clash with the standards. or a server can detect that the image was not requested as part of normal browsing. the threat model has. Control mechanisms employed by the browser vendors over the CAs have not been substantially updated. and is similar in principle to using a hosts file to block web adverts. Venerable CA model. Opera 9. and instead send a warning image. The recent EV Guidelines documented the current model in greater detail. The image may be moved to a new filename and the original permanently replaced. this feature (like other forms of . In addition.[citation needed Browsers alerting users to fraudulent websites Another popular approach to fighting phishing is to maintain a list of known phishing sites and to check websites against the list. Firefox 2 used Google anti-phishing software. The control and quality process over CAs is insufficiently tuned to the protection of users and the addressing of actual and current threats. which results in an outsourcing effect when it comes to security. these have not been adopted because they are not standard. Security standards take around 10 years to adjust. Users of the bank's online services are instructed to enter a password only when they see the image they selected.0. and display this user-selected image with any forms that request a password. Safari 3. Firefox 2 was found to be more effective than Internet Explorer 7 at detecting fraudulent sites in a study by an independent software testing company. Audit processes are in great need of updating. Although there have been many and good experiments in improving the security UI.2.Standards gridlock. as well as live whitelists from GeoTrust. and established a good benchmark. An approach introduced in mid-2006 involves switching to a special DNS service that filters out known phishing domains: this will work with any browser. Microsoft's IE7 browser. To mitigate the problem of phishing sites impersonating a victim site by embedding its images (such as logos). which has raised concerns about privacy. According to a report by Mozilla in late 2006. Some implementations of this approach send the visited URLs to a central service to be checked. a recent study suggests few users refrain from entering their password when images are absent. Mozilla Firefox 2.
netting themselves 100 million yen ($870.two-factor authentication) is susceptible to other attacks. such as those suffered by Scandinavian bank Nordea in late 2005. and not between the user and the website. would have subjected criminals who created fake web sites and sent bogus e-mails in order to defraud . UK authorities jailed two men in June 2005 for their role in a phishing scam. which in two years stole between US$18 million and US$37 million. the U. in a case connected to the U. Individuals can also contribute by reporting phone phishing attempts to Phone Phishing. allegedly created a webpage designed to look like the America Online website. Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the Anti-Phishing Act of 2005 in Congress on March 1. a Californian teenager. In the United States.  Monitoring and takedown Several companies offer banks and other organizations likely to suffer from phishing scams round-the-clock services to monitor. the image itself is shared only between the user and the browser. A similar system.S.  Eliminating phishing mail Specialized spam filters can reduce the number of phishing e-mails that reach their addressees' inboxes. Federal Trade Commission. This bill. Valdir Paulo de Almeida. and used it to steal credit card information. Security skins are a related technique that involves overlaying a user-selected image onto the login form as a visual cue that the form is legitimate. is in use at other financial institutions. The scheme also relies on a mutual authentication protocol.000 USD). The arrests continued in 2006 with the FBI Operation Cardkeeper detaining a gang of sixteen in the U. Unlike the website-based image schemes. 2004.S.  Legal responses On January 26. and Citibank in 2006. A phishing kingpin. analyze and assist in shutting down phishing websites. however. Federal Trade Commission filed the first lawsuit against a suspected phisher. The defendant. was arrested in Brazil for leading one of the largest phishing crime rings. Other countries have followed this lead by tracing and arresting phishers. which targeted notorious "carder" websites. 2005. if it had been enacted into law.S. such as PhishTank. in which an automatically-generated “Identity Cue” consisting of a colored word within a colored box is displayed to each website user. These approaches rely on machine learning and natural language processing approaches to classify phishing e-mails. which makes it less vulnerable to attacks that affect user-only authentication schemes. In 2006 eight people were arrested by Japanese police on suspicion of phishing fraud by creating bogus Yahoo Japan Web sites. Individuals can contribute by reporting phishing to both volunteer and industry groups. Secret Service Operation Firewall. and Europe.
 Microsoft announced a planned further 100 lawsuits outside the U. The lawsuits accuse "John Doe" defendants of obtaining passwords and confidential information. of 129 lawsuits mixing criminal and civil actions. which introduces a general offence of fraud that can carry up to a ten year prison sentence. Goodin had been in custody since failing to appear for an earlier court hearing and began serving his prison term immediately. AOL reinforced its efforts against phishing in early 2006 with three lawsuits seeking a total of $18 million USD under the 2005 amendments to the Virginia Computer Crimes Act. in March 2006.  See also • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Advanced Persistent Threat Anti-phishing software Computer hacking Confidence trick E-mail spoofing FBI Internet fraud Pharming SMiShing Social engineering Spy-phishing Vishing In-session phishing White collar crime . District Court for the Western District of Washington. The UK strengthened its legal arsenal against phishing with the Fraud Act 2006. Microsoft filed 117 federal lawsuits in the U. the unauthorized use of credit cards. Companies have also joined the effort to crack down on phishing. In January 2007. March 2005 also saw a partnership between Microsoft and the Australian government teaching law enforcement officials how to combat various cyber crimes. 2005. On March 31. including phishing. He was found guilty of sending thousands of e-mails to America Online users. as of November 2006. Facing a possible 101 years in prison for the CAN-SPAM violation and ten other counts including wire fraud.S. Jeffrey Brett Goodin of California became the first defendant convicted by a jury under the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. and Earthlink has joined in by helping to identify six men subsequently charged with phishing fraud in Connecticut. while posing as AOL's billing department. which prompted customers to submit personal and credit card information. he was sentenced to serve 70 months. and the misuse of AOL's trademark. and prohibits the development or possession of phishing kits with intent to commit fraud.000 and prison terms of up to five years.S. followed by the commencement.consumers to fines of up to $250.
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