Spammers are beginning to use last week’s eBay breach to send spam to users to say how their falsely arrested; and advising people to check public records to see if their names have been falsely used too.
According to a blog by Cloudmark, the message says that a person’s name was “used falsely in an arrest, and I didn’t even know it until I checked my public record” and encourages the recipient to check their history, as well as the history of their neighbours, to see if they have committed similar crimes.
Cloudmark said that the messages used various subject lines including “View: updated Identity records” and “Arrest Record: View Updated Report” with the body of the message remaining largely the same. The user is sent to a website called Instant Checkmate, and there is no evidence that Instant Checkmate has any knowledge of or real connection with the eBay breach.
Andrew Conway, research analyst at Cloudmark, said: “The first thing you see on going to the site is a pop-up telling you it contains sensitive data, and the second is a progress bar telling you that it is establishing a secure connection. This actually does nothing at all, and neither does the little lock displayed on the page itself. The connection is still only HTTP, and not HTTPS.
“So why would someone go to these lengths to try to make it look like the connection is secure rather than paying the $70 or so it costs to buy a certificate and set up a genuinely secure connection? Could it be someone doesn’t want to have their real identity on file at the certificate authority?”
Jonathan French, security analyst at AppRiver, told IT Security Guru that it had seen the same emails, and while using relevant news information as a lure is pretty common, he said it is more likely that a user may keep reading a message if they think it may provide more information on what is going on.
He said: “I wouldn’t really classify this instance as phishing though. Maybe fraud. But it rides a fine line. That background check site does provide a service that users willingly pay for it seems. The complaint reviews said they did get reports, but they apparently weren’t very good reports. It seems their goal is not to steal information from users directly, but to convince them the service is good enough to pay for, and probably aim to get people to accidentally sign up for recurring payments.
“Background check campaigns are one of those ones where it’s always going on as well. This definitely isn’t the first like it. It’s possible that a background check email like this could lead to a phishing site or even malware. But most of the ones I have seen in the past are just sort of scammy looking sites that want you to pay per month for access.”
Chris Boyd, malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, said: “While we’ve not seen eBay used in this way before, background check/criminal records/dangerous individual warning spam is quite common and typically leads to dubious looking websites asking for payment, with no way to know for sure what you’ll get for your money. We’ve even seen some of these links redirect to potentially unwanted program installs and surveys, instead of the promised website.
“In cases where a criminal record is found on a website, a game of whack-a-mole can often ensue as sites will typically ask for money to take down a mugshot, then simply move it to another of their URLs once payment has gone through. You’ll likely run out of money befor
e they run out of websites!”
Rahul Kashyup, head of security research at Bromium, said that after every major breach, phishers and scammers are the first to react, playing on consumers’ fears. “To avoid being taken for a ride users should to not click on plausible looking emails, but visit the affected site directly, and making sure that the communication is secure – look for the ‘lock’ on the browser.”
TK Keanini, CTO of Lancope, said: “Just like the sun will rise in the morning, you can count on attackers of any kind taking advantage of a large public data breach. As soon as I saw the eBay announcement, I tried to imagine what the phishing attacks would look like, because it is a given.
“I love this blog because the only way to battle these questionable businesses on the internet is to make them public and socialise them for what they really are before they take more consumers victim. Unlike traditional retailers, these folks can setup and tear down faster than traditional consumer protection people can act on them so new creative countermeasures will need to be put in place. Until then, we just help one another out by word of mouth and be extremely distrusting of websites until they have proven themselves valid and valuable.”