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Large-scale phishing attack on Barclays Bank clients September 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet Safety.

PandaLabs has detected a large-scale phishing attack targeting clients of Barclays Bank’s online services and involving at least 61 variants of a spoof email. The scale of this attack has seen the number of fraudulent emails detected by PandaLabs increase by 30% in just a few hours. In fact, of all phishing messages currently analyzed, some 64% target Barclays’ clients.

Given the number of variants detected, estimates put the number of these emails in circulation at several million.

In order to combat this threat, Panda Software offers users the Panda ActiveScan free online scanner and an evaluation version of the Panda Internet Security 2007 security suite.

The false emails received by users are designed to appear as if they have been sent from Barclays’ customer services, with the subject field chosen at random from a list of options. Some of these options include:

Barclays bank official update, Barclays bank – Security update, Please Read or Verify your data with Barclays bank (the full list is available at Panda Software’s Virus Encyclopedia).

The message text, imitating Barclays’ corporate image, informs users that the bank is upgrading software and that they should go to a link in order to confirm their bank details.

Users that click on the link will access a form, similar to those used by the bank, requesting their account number, credit card number or PIN.

There are 61 different variants of this message, using a wide range of message subjects and sender addresses. This tactic is used deliberately in order to bypass antispam systems. According to Luis Corrons, director of Pandalabs “We believe this could be a coordinated attack, initiated in several places at the same time in order to spread rapidly and gather a considerable amount of confidential bank details in record time.”

It is significant that not all of the email messages point to the same Internet address in order to collect stolen data, but in fact the criminals have prepared at least five false domains to hinder attempts to close all of them down. In any event, PandaLabs is contacting the technicians in charge of the sites that have been located –all of them in Korea — in order to shut them down as quickly as possible.

“This is a sophisticated attack in comparison with those that we usually see. The use of several domains to host spoofed web pages makes it more difficult to disable them. The emails are also far more authentic looking than the usual, often error strewn, messages,” explains Corrons.

Practical tips to combat phishing

– Never access Internet services through links, as there are various ways for spoofing the addresses that users see in the browser bar. Instead, type in the URL directly in the address bar.

– If you think an email message could be part of a phishing attack, don’t enter any data and contact the bank in question.

– Use technological solutions to minimize the impact of this type of attack. The best practice is to use security suites including anti-phishing technologies and that update regularly to prevent the most recent attacks. Examples of these types of suites include Panda Antivirus+Firewall 2007 and Panda Internet Security 2007.

Panda Software offers users Panda ActiveScan (www.pandasoftware.com/products/activescan), the free online scanner, and an evaluation version of the Panda Internet Security 2007 security suite to combat this threat.

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