Hackers have often used email to trick users into clicking on fraudulent links or to hand over important credentials through phishing scams, but these are usually blocked by an enterprise-level spam blocker. However, hackers have learned that there is indeed a way around these spam blockers, and it’s through popular social media websites.
One of the big reasons why spam blockers are so successful is because it examines the content of the messages you receive and makes a determination about its authenticity. One way that it does so is by looking at links within the email body itself. If the link is legitimate and seems to go to a normal, recognized source, then the message can be considered “legitimate,” even if it is not necessarily safe.
Hackers are now attempting to use social media websites to subvert this weakness in spam blockers; they use the sites as a middle-man of sorts, using the social media website to write a post which includes a suspicious link, then using the social media platform’s sharing capabilities to effectively mask the suspicious link behind that of the social media platform.
This is a particularly crafty approach that should not be taken lightly, and it’s already in use at this present moment. Take, for example, a recent campaign using Facebook as the delivery mechanism for phishing threats. In this scenario, hackers send victims an email message suggesting that they have violated Facebook’s terms of service on their page. When the victim clicks on the link in the email, they are brought to a legitimate Facebook post further detailing the issues that must be addressed. The post prompts the user to click on a phishing link, and the rest is history.
The moral of the story is that you can never trust links in your email inbox from unknown users, even if they appear to be legitimate. Phishing can happen anywhere, especially where you least expect it, like on social media websites and even support forums. If the links look a little too suspicious, then you should wait to take action until you have consulted a security professional like those at 415 IT. Our technicians are happy to review the contents of messages and make determinations on their authenticity, particularly for situations like the above one where it’s not clear if the link is legitimate or not.
Now, if you don’t have a spam blocking solution in place, we can help you out with that, too. With a unified threat management tool, you can take full advantage of great security solutions designed to keep you protected from the majority of threats. To learn more, reach out to us at (415) 295-4898.
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