This article originally appeared in Dark Reading on April 5, 2019.
Lookout Phishing AI, which discovered the attack, says it has been going on since late November.
Verizon is warning customers about a phishing campaign that is going specifically after mobile users.
Mobile devices have emerged as an effective attack vector, according to Jeremy Richards, principal security researcher at Lookout Phishing AI, which discovered the phishing kit.
“Since many mobile devices lack traditional security, I expect we will continue to see these attacks increase alongside mobile device usage,” Richards wrote in a blog post earlier this week. “These attacks, when opened on a desktop, clearly look like a poorly made phishing domain, but on a mobile device, they look legitimate.”
When users open the phishing email on a mobile device, it looks like it’s from Verizon customer support, according to Richards. The campaign has, in fact, been going on since late November; to date, the attackers have registered some 51 Verizon customer phishing domains. Verizon has been made aware of the issue, Richards wrote, and has been suspending the domains.
Aaron Higbee, chief technology officer and co-founder at Cofense, says while it’s true that mobile phishing attacks are on the rise, he believes the attack Lookout reported largely focuses on consumer-side attacks.
“Most organizations keep devices up-to-date with [mobile device management],” Higbee says. “This kind of report gets people worried about mobile phishing threats … but mobile devices are more secure than desktop computers. These are mostly consumer fraud attacks, like an IRS scam for a Social Security number or a Netflix account. They are not primarily going after corporate credentials and business data.”
In an interview with Dark Reading, Lookout’s Richards disputes that notion, insisting that access to a user’s mobile Verizon account can become very valuable to an attacker.
“We see this as a crime of opportunity,” Richards says. “The attacker will assess who the user is. If it’s just a Netflix account, that’s one thing. But if the user is a CEO or CFO, they can monetize it much differently. Once they have access to a mobile phone account, the attackers can use the stolen credentials to launch business email compromises, fraudulent wire transfers, and ransomware.”
The Media Trust reports that mobile attacks are most certainly on the rise. For example, they report a 46% increase in mobile attacks (59% are mobile phishing) from just February to March alone.
“There’s no question that mobile attacks have increased significantly,” says Usman Rahim, digital security and operations manager at The Media Trust. “Companies may have a policy restricting the use of personal phones on the job, but there’s really no way to restrict it.”
Lookout’s Richards says user education has become paramount. His top tip: If a browser asks for your password, assume you are getting tricked. Best to bookmark a site and use that as a login.
“Users should also be suspicious of emails that drive a sense of urgency, that ask the user to bypass standard procedures and common sense,” he adds.