Are There Gremlins in That PayPal Email?

Pause before entering your credentials! Cybercriminals have made it almost impossible for a casual observer to distinguish phishing emails from the real PayPal messages.

Are There Gremlins in That PayPal Email?

The post comes from Fahmida Y. Rashid at partner site Credit.com.

Faked PayPal email notifications directing recipients to malicious websites aren’t new. But cybercriminals are getting a lot better at executing them.

That’s shown by the discovery of a current phishing campaign designed to lure victims to click to a pair of very well-designed but faked PayPal websites.

The finding comes from researchers at OpenDNS, a free, ad-sponsored service for making faster, more secure website connections.

The fraudulent PayPal websites are virtually indistinguishable from the real PayPal.com, down to the images used on the login screen, the color palette, and the HTML code used in the page’s layout, the researchers found.

The faked sites were registered through a popular web hosting service and designed using the service’s extensive site-building tools, resulting in a professional and realistic-looking site. “An untrained observer might not notice and actually follow through with entering credentials,” OpenDNS researchers wrote.

More believable domain names

Even the domain names were selected to confuse victims. The phishers used site names such as “redirectly-paypal.com” and “security-paypal-center.com.” One forged domain, “x-paypal.com,” was a “perfect clone of the legitimate PayPal.com site,” the researchers said.

Phishing refers to how attackers lure victims into handing over sensitive information such as user names, passwords and financial information. For the most part, phishing attacks begin with an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, whether it’s a person or a business, asking for specific pieces of information. This latest phishing campaign began with fake emails masquerading as official communications from PayPal.com.

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