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July 16, 2007

Skype users warned on phishing attempts

by Brian Turner

Skype users have been warned to be especially vigilant against phishing attempts, after a wave of emails aimed at compromising Skype accounts were sent out over the weekend.

Phishing emails claim to be from a bona fide company, requesting revision of internet login details. For example, from a bank claiming that after a security review, your online details must be updated, and a link is provided to click on.

However, the email is never sent by the company it claims to represent, and the link instead goes to a third party site - commonly run by Russian mafia and other organised criminal groups - who then record the user logins, in order to compromise the user’s real account.

Phishing emails commonly claim to be from a bank or online payment processor, in an attempt to trick the user into giving away access to their bank account.

The wave of phishing emails now targeting VoIP services such as Skype is a worrying escalation of the trend, and Skype users are especially being warned to be extra vigilant of security notices claiming to have been sent from Skype.

Common indicators of phishing emails include that they are addressed anonymously, such as “Dear Member”. Additionally, any link provided in the email will not go to a familiar looking site accredited with the company, though some will attempt to craft the URL’s to appear more legitimate.

Either way, in the event of being prompted to update security and accounts settings with any provider, and you are not certain whether the email may be genuine or a phishing attempt, then simply login to the companies’ website directly instead of clicking on a link in a suspect email.

In the meantime, it remains to be seen whether Skype will remain the main focus of these phishing attacks, or whether other VoIP providers will also be targeted.

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