The Gmail database is not congested, and Google is not asking users to confirm that their accounts are still active.
But, it seems that scammers are hoping that you might believe that’s true, according to one of the latest phishing attacks that has been spammed across the net.
Here’s what a typical email looks like:
Message body: Dear Gmail Account User,
Due to the congestion in our Gmail database, We will be shutting down all unused accounts before on the 30th of June. You will have to re-confirm your account as soon as possible to enable us upgrade your account before the deadline date. To confirm your account kindly fill the account verification form.
After Following the instructions in the sheet, your account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thanks for your attention to this request. [LINK]
We apologize for any inconvenience. Thanks & Regards, Engineer.J.Williams Upgrade Team Controller
As the link does point to a webpage hosted somewhere on Google.com, some computer users may believe that the form they are being directed to must be genuine. However, it is actually pointing to a spreadsheet on Google Docs – pages which can be created by any Tom, Dick or Harry.
And, in this case, a “Google account verification form” is attempting to trick you into handing over personal information – such as your name, full date of birth and password.
The eagle-eyed might spot the spelling mistake in the form (“confrim” rather than “confirm”) but you can hardly rely on the phishers making errors like that as a way of protecting yourself.
Why are the scammers using Google Docs to host their phishing pages?
Well, they hope that potential victims will believe it’s a genuine Google resource as it is hosted at an authentic Google URL, and that rudimentary security software won’t feel comfortable blocking the entire google.com domain. (Of course, good security software is smarter than this).
Users shouldn’t forget that a site like Gmail knows if you have been using it recently or not – because every time you log in or send an email a record is kept somewhere inside the Googleplex.
Not that Google is likely to run out of any storage space or plan to shut down any dormant email accounts any time soon by my reckoning..
Source :- http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com
Phishers exploit Google Docs with Gmail de-activation alert (nakedsecurity.sophos.com)
Google Docs: A Phisher’s Best Friend? (searchenginejournal.com)
As has been widely reported, high profile users of Gmail – including US government officials, reporters and political activists – have had their email accounts hacked.
This wasn’t a sophisticated attack against Google’s systems, but rather a cleverly-crafted HTML email which pointed to a Gmail phishing page.
Victims would believe that they had been sent an attachment, click on the link, and be greeted by what appeared to be Gmail’s login screen. Before you knew it, your Gmail username and password could be in the hands of unauthorised parties.
So, what steps should you take to reduce the chances of your Gmail account being hacked?
Set up Two step verification
Check if your Gmail messages are being forwarded without your permission
The hackers who broke into high profile Gmail accounts grabbed usernames and passwords. So, an obvious thing to do would be to make Gmail require an extra piece of information before allowing anybody to access your account.
Google provides a facility called “two step verification” to Gmail users, which provides that extra layer of security. It requires you to be able to access your mobile phone when you sign into your email account – as they will be sending you a magic “verification” number via SMS.
The advantage of this approach – which is similar to that done by many online banks – is that even if cybercriminals manage to steal your username and password, they won’t know what your magic number is because they don’t have your phone.
Google has made two step verification easy to set up.
Once you’re set up, the next time you try to log into Gmail you’ll be asked for your magic number after entering your username and password. Your mobile phone should receive an SMS text message from Google containing your verification number.
Let’s just hope the bad guys don’t have access to your mobile phone too..
Here’s a video from Google where they explain two step verification in greater detail:
You can also learn more about two step verification on Google’s website.
By the way, note that two step verification doesn’t mean that your Gmail can’t ever be snooped on by remote hackers. They could, for instance, install spyware onto your computer which could monitor everything that appears on your screen. But it’s certainly a good additional level of security for your Gmail account, and one which will make life much more difficult for any cybercriminal who might be targeting you.
Gmail gives you the ability to forward your emails to another email address. There are situations where this might be handy, of course, but it can also be used by hackers to secretly read the messages you receive.
Go into your Gmail account settings, and select the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab.
If your emails are being forwarded to another address, then you will see something like the following:
That’s fine if you authorised for your emails to be forwarded to that email address, but a bad thing if you didn’t.
If your messages are not being forwarded you will see a screen more like this:
Hackers want to break into your account not just to see what email you’ve received up until their break-in. Ideally, they would like to have ongoing access to your email, even if you change your password or enable two step verification. That’s why it’s so important to check that no-one has sneakily asked for all of your email to be forwarded to them.
At the bottom of each webpage on Gmail, you’ll see some small print which describes your last account activity. This is available to help you spy if someone has been accessing your account at unusual times of day (for instance, when you haven’t been using your computer) or from a different location.
Clicking on the “Details” option will take you to a webpage describing the type of access and the IP address of the computer which logged your email account. Although some of this data may appear nerdy, it can be a helpful heads-up – especially if you spot a computer from another country has been accessing your email.
As we’ve explained before, you should never use the same username and password on multiple websites. It’s like having a skeleton key which opens every door – if they grab your password in one place they can try it in many other places.
Also, you should ensure that your password is not a dictionary word, and is suitably complex that it’s hard to break with a dictionary attack.
Here’s a video which explains how to choose a strong password, which is easy to remember but still hard to crack:
(Enjoy this video? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)
Don’t delay, be sensible and make your passwords more secure today
And once you’ve chosen a safer password – keep it safe! That means, don’t share it with anyone else and be very careful that you’re typing it into the real Gmail login screen, not a phishing site.
It should go without saying, but this list would be unfinished without it. You need to properly secure your computer with up-to-date anti-virus software, security patches and so forth. If you don’t, you’re risking hackers planting malicious code on your computer which could spy upon you and, of course, your email.
You always want to be certain that your computer is in a decent state of health before you log into a sensitive online account, such as your email or bank account. That’s one of the reasons why I would always be very nervous about using a computer in a cybercafe or hotel lobby. You simply don’t know what state the computer is in, and who might have been using it before.
Okay, I don’t really mean that. But I do mean, why are you storing sensitive information in your Gmail account?
The news headlines claim that senior US political and military officials were being targeted by the hackers. Surely if they had confidential or sensitive data they shouldn’t have that in their webmail account? Shouldn’t that be on secure government and military systems instead?
Always think about the data you might be putting on your web email account – because if it’s only protected by a username and password that may actually be less security than your regular work email system provides.
How to stop your Gmail account being hacked (nakedsecurity.sophos.com)
The Truth Behind Gmail “Hack” (fastcompany.com)
Even Gmail Can Get Hacked (webpagefx.com)
Chinese Gmail Attack Targets ‘Senior’ U.S. Officials (techland.time.com)
Top 10 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Gmail Account (blogs.wsj.com)
Google: Gmail Attack from China Affects ‘Senior U.S. Government Officials’ (techland.time.com)
If you’re seeing Facebook messages asking you to “do your part in PREVENTING SPAM by VERIFYING YOUR ACCOUNT,” don’t do so – you’d be creating spam, not stopping it!
The messages look something like this:
Usually, however, the clickable links at the bottom of messages on your Wall – highlighted in pink below – should look like this:
With all the unexpected Sharing going on, this message has spread like wild-fire. Instead of preventing spam, this particular campaign has been generating it at astonishing rates.
The good news is that Facebook seems to have taken some action to prevent the “Share” button being replaced in these messages. Since a few minutes ago, malicious messages appear with no links at all, like this:
The lessons to be learned from this outbreak of spam are as follows:
* Assume that messages which ask you to verify your account by clicking on a link are false. You wouldn’t (I hope) click on links in emails which claimed to come from your bank trying to panic you about your account. That would be a classic phishing scam using a false site to steal your username and password. So don’t trust that sort of link on Facebook, either.
* When you take some action on Facebook which doesn’t deliver what was promised – for example, if you end up Sharing or Liking something you didn’t intend to, or if you click through to an offer or competition which suddenly morphs into something completely different (a bait-and-switch) – assume you have been tricked. Review the side-effects of your actions. Remove any applications you may trustingly have accepted; unlike things you didn’t mean to like; and delete posts you didn’t intend to make.
* Be wary of unexpected changes to Facebook’s interface for Liking, Commenting, Sharing and so forth. Unfortunately, the nature of social networking sites is that they like to undergo rapid change. Cybercrooks exploit this by assuming that you accept ongoing changes as “part of how things work”. Don’t do so. If you see something different, check with an official source to see if it’s expected or not.
If sufficiently many Facebook users dig their heels in every time Facebook makes a gratuitous or confusing change in its interface, its privacy settings or its feature set, then it’s possible that Facebook will learn to adapt in ways which best suit the privacy and safety of its users, instead of adapting to improve its traffic and benefit its paying customers.
(Remember that as a Facebook user, you aren’t a customer. You’re effectively an informal employee, paid not in cash but in kind. Your “wage” is free access to the Facebook system. Your clicks generate the value for which Facebook can charge its customers – the advertisers who benefit from the fact that you use the network at all. Don’t sell yourself short.)
Source :- http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com
PREVENTING SPAM scam on Facebook does exactly the opposite (nakedsecurity.sophos.com)
Facebook spam prevention scam spreading like wildfire (go.theregister.com)
Verify My Account Spam Runs Rampant On Facebook (allfacebook.com)
Facebook Security Features Crack Down on Scams and Spam (webpronews.com)
Facebook adds new user security features (news.cnet.com)
Facebook adds new user security features (news.cnet.com)
“F – You Faggot. Go Kill Yourself”: Facebook Spam Just Got A Whole Lot Hatier (queerty.com)
Don’t fall for the “First Exposure: iPhone 5″ Facebook scam (news.cnet.com)
Don’t fall for ‘First Exposure: iPhone 5′ Facebook scam (news.cnet.com)
Facebook Partners with Security Startup, Protects Users From Scammer’s Links (readwriteweb.com)