So, I’m sure you're all aware of the Google phishing scam. It, conveniently, presents a few key items that I would like to discuss.
What we know, as in what Google will tell us, is that the expedition did not represent an access of information. Rather, it merely gathered contacts and re-sent the phishing email for fake Google docs. Clearly, we need to discuss the key identifiers of how to protect yourself from similar attacks. The phishing emails were sent from (supposedly) email@example.com. Now if that doesn't look fishy, I don’t know what does. Regardless, people obviously opened it.
Another critical element is that the link the Google docs directed you to led to nothing more than a long chain of craziness, instead of a normal Google doc location. However, like most phishing, it appears to be from someone you know. So how can we protect ourselves?
Google installed several fixes within an hour. This shows great business practices for security on their side. We have to know that there is no one-size-fits-all for security, period. New breaches are happening every second, and we don’t always know the location, intent, or result of these attacks. What we can do is be mindful that we are no longer free-range users, and we have a personal responsibility to be aware of attacks, both at home and at work.
So, I'd like to help you learn the basics of looking for and recognizing phishing emails. First, and always, begin with being suspicious. Here are some ideas to help strengthen your Spidey senses:
- Report phishing emails to your IT team or personal email account providers. If they don’t know, they can't fix the issue. They may eventually find out, but think of this as your friendly Internet Watch program.
- Avoid attacks. NEVER give personal information unless you know why you are being asked for it, and are100% able to verify the email address. Make sure the email address actually matches the sender.
- Hover over links and verify if they are going to the correct location.
- Update your browser security settings. Google released a fix for this and pushed it out within hours.
- Patch your devices -- including MOBILE! Android had an updated phishing release from Google within hours.
- Stop thinking of patches for your phone as a feature request.
We can be our own cyber security eye in the sky! All it takes is motivation and time to be hacked, breached, or attacked, so we must be diligent and not let down our guards. Being vigilant is critical, as is proactively protecting ourselves at home and work by practicing a few simple practices.
And another thing: Let's stop sending out our SSIDs at home like a bat signal. There are little things we can do everywhere. Go big and implement MAC address filtering that will determine if anyone is trying to access your Wi-Fi big time. (Take it from someone who has four teenage daughters.)