The Norman Transcript

Business

September 30, 2012

Spear phishing emails work all too well

NORMAN — By now, most of us have seen so-called “phishing” emails, designed by scammers to separate us from our money. These messages look legitimate, as if they are from bona fide companies trying to protect us, directing us to login and “verify” our online accounts. They are, of course, totally fake.

For the past few years, more sophisticated phishing email scams have appeared, called “spear phishing.” The word “spear” has been added because these bogus emails are much more targeted and focused in their approach, including personal details such as your name, the company your work for, and even your street address. In addition, they seem to come from someone you actually know. Spear phishing is proving to be a much more lucrative con than old-fashioned phishing.

Spear phishing’s success is in the details. Would a spear phishing attack fool you? Imagine your name is Bob Everyman and you work for Acme Widgets at 123 Main Street. You get an official-looking email from “John” in the Acme Widgets I.T. department that says, “Dear Bob Everyman. We have noticed increased spam activity on the company network, with spammers trying to access company email accounts. To end this problem, we are issuing new passwords for all email accounts.”

“Please reply to this message by sending us your current password and we will issue you a new alpha-numeric password for your email account. Thank you for helping enhance email security at Acme Widgets.” The message is signed by “John Jones, Acme Widgets I.T. Department” and includes the correct company address and phone number. Plus, the company logo is right there at the top of the message.

Would you do it? Would you send “John the I.T. guy” your password?

Computer security guru Bruce Schneier, quoted by the New York Times, describes the situation like this: “It’s a really nasty tactic because it’s so personalized. It’s an e-mail from your mother saying she needs your Social Security number for the will she’s doing. This is hacking the person, it’s not hacking the computer.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Business
  • Ideal Homes to dedicate Oklahoma’s first Home for HOPE

    Ideal Homes dedicated the company’s first Home for HOPE on Wednesday at 13209 SW 5th in Yukon....

    July 27, 2014

  • Todd Lamb to keynote luncheon

    Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb will provide the keynote address at the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Lunch at 11:45 a.m. Aug. 6 at the National Weather Center. Lamb will speak on state issues that may impact local business and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma learns about storm water proposal

    The Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma invited Norman Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary to talk about the new storm water fee proposal at its luncheon Thursday....

    July 27, 2014

  • Backing up everything, everywhere, not as easy as it should be

    Though we may wish or believe otherwise, computing devices are still somewhat of a hassle to use. Some devices, like Apple’s iPad, come close to being fully realized machines, but even iPads have their clunky side....

    July 27, 2014

  • Is using E10 or ‘pure’ gasoline more economical?

    An analysis by AAA Oklahoma shows that at today’s prices, E10 motor fuel is cheaper to use than 100 percent gasoline, despite the fewer miles per gallon produced by E10, which is a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline....

    July 27, 2014

  • Appellate judge retiring

    The Honorable Charles A. Johnson retired from the Court of Criminal Appeals after 25 years on the bench. Johnson was appointed to the court on Oct. 31, 1989, by Gov. Henry Bellmon to fill the unexpired term of Hez J. Bussey. After 59 ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Candy Basket celebrates 25 years

    Perhaps it’s the chocolate covered blueberries whose deliciousness still lingers. Or maybe it’s the blood orange and wild honey white chocolate ganache that won’t soon be forgotten by your taste buds. At The Candy Basket there is decadence ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Bramlett & Associates adopts new name reflective of business

    Bramlett & Associates Multimedia LLC (Bramlett Multimedia), 215 W. Main St., announced this month that the company will change its name after 12 years in business and will do business as BOLD-Multimedia. The announcement, made first to ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Toothpick holders convention coming to Norman

    Lynne Ryan has been collecting toothpick holders her entire life. “My parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.L. ‘Bud’ Gibbs started our collection in 1936,” Ryan said. Ryan was born in 1940, and she grew up crawling around toothpick holders, as have ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Protect your online banking, shopping with encryption

    In my free, one-night class called “Fight the Internet Bad Guys and Win,” I teach everyday computer users how to stay out of trouble on the Internet. How to avoid virus infections, how to discern between the genuine and counterfeit, and ...

    July 20, 2014