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Image attack on MySpace boosts phishing exposure
Published: 2007-06-11

The number of page views garnered by fraudulent sites climbed by a factor of five in March and April, fueled by a phishing scheme targeting MySpace users, stated a Google analysis published on Monday.

The attack used a modification to the style sheet of a user's profile to place a transparent image over the page, causing a click on a link -- or anywhere else on the page -- to redirect the visitor to a fake MySpace login page, Colin Whittaker of Google's Anti-Phishing Team, stated on the search giant's security blog.

"The effectiveness of the attack and the increasing sophistication of the phishing pages, some of which were hosted on botnets and were near perfect duplications of MySpace's login page, meant that we needed to switch tactics to combat this new threat," Whittaker stated.

Phishing -- using fake e-mail messages and Web pages dressed up with the brand names of trusted corporations -- have increasingly been used to trick victims into giving up their valuable information. An e-mail posing as a complaint from the Better Business Bureau has recently been targeting the executives as small- to medium-sized business in a scam designed to shake free usernames and passwords from key corporate personnel. While the current attack spreads virally through MySpace, actual viruses and worms have been created for the social networking site.

"While a MySpace account does not have any intrinsic monetary value, phishers had come up with ways to monetize this attack," Whittaker said. "We observed hijacked accounts being used to spread bulletin board spam for some advertising revenue."

In mid-April, MySpace changed their server side code to disable bad links in users' profiles and the traffic to known phishing sites dropped down to its pre-March levels, he stated.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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