Phishing is not a new crime, but the criminals who send phishing emails continue to refine their craft. One form of phishing email that seems to be gaining momentum is the "fake reply."

According to a recent report by the Comodo Threat Intelligence Lab, Internet users now face "a new series of phishing emails that purport to be replies to previously asked requests for information from well-known brands and likely legitimate contacts."

Some of the emails impersonate package carriers - if, in recent years, you have tracked a package being transported by UPS, for example, you may recognize the format of the emails as looking similar to legitimate UPS emails. Of course, the phishing emails do not direct people to the real UPS site - if you click the main link in them you will be transported to a clone site that delivers malware to your computer or mobile device.

The "fake reply" attack exploits the fact that, on any particular day, many people track packages; if you just tracked a package and then received the phishing email that looks like a message from your carrier you may be tempted to click the link in it. The same goes for the impersonation of retailers, etc.; if you shopped somewhere recently and then receive a "response to your inquiry about your order" you may be more likely to click a related email-borne phishing link than would be the average person being targeted.

According to Comodo, the recent "fake reply" phishing attacks are also quite robust - one variant utilizes nearly 600 poisoned servers around the world - making terminating the attack more complicated than it was with many prior schemes.

As always, to protect yourself against phishing, if you receive an email that requires a web-based response type in the URL of the site, don't click links in the email. And, of course, practicing good cyber-hygiene in general can also help keep you safe.

Published on: Jul 25, 2017
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