New phishing scam targets MobileMe users

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
In another attempt to con MobileMe users into providing their credit card information, a scammer has sent out spam spoofed to appear to come from Apple, which directs users to a fake site designed to look like Apple's. Users who follow the email link and enter their information on the poorly formatted, fake Apple web page will be sorry.



The phony email



While sent with a spoofed sender address of [email protected], the spam's headers indicate that it actually appears to originate from gamma.oxyhosts.com, a server operated by a web hosting outfit from the UK. The email contains formatting errors that should immediately tip off users, and directs to a sketchy URL: http.apple-billing.me.uk. The email's headers that indicate it was sent using Outlook Express, but those are only visible when the user examines the phony email's raw headers.



Of course, Apple itself has also sent out official MobileMe notices containing the same formatting error (below). Apple also doesn't sign or encrypt its official emails to users, a step that might help in thwarting the regular phishing attempts that target MobileMe users. While Apple pioneered certificate based security in iChat messaging for its MobileMe users, it has been a laggard in making it easy for users to sign and encrypt their MobileMe email using certificates issued by Apple, despite support in Mail and most other modern email clients to handle this.







The significant difference in the real message from Apple over the phony spam is that Apple's official email cites the account's User Name, the ending digits of their credit card number, and directs the user to navigate to MobileMe themselves to correct their information within the online account section, rather than providing a link to follow. Doing so would result in the user initiating a MobileMe web session secured via SSL before they are ever prompted to enter their private account information.







The phony website



There is no SSL security on the fake site users are directed to by the spam (pictured below). The fraud site is hosted by me.uk, a domain not affiliated with Apple, but which might sound reasonably correct to many users. The domain appears to be registered to "Nike Jegart, co 9 Vista Estrella South, Lamy, NM 87540."



Were the site to attempt to initiate an SSL connection, the EV (Extended Validation) phishing filters in most modern browsers might flag the site as suspicious, but that type of safeguard does nothing when no SSL session is even attempted. The formatting of the phony Apple Store page does raise some obvious red flags, but users shouldn't expect spammers to continue to flub in their phishing efforts.







As with any unsolicited email-based requests for identity or billing information, users should be cautious and suspicious. Verify that the browser has initiated an SSL connection and that the URL appears correct (although it can be easy to spoof the URL itself so that it appears to be legitimate). The best practice is to navigate to the billing site yourself rather than following an email-supplied link, even if the email appears to be legitimate.



In related news, Apple this week announced a number of improvements to MobileMe's web applications, which were detailed on AppleInsider's backpage blogs on Wednesday.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    I consider myself to be very computer savvy - I work on computers all day and advise others on computer related issues - and I almost fell for one of these scams related to PayPal. I had just placed an order using PayPal and I got an email along the line of this one asking for updated billing info - and I clicked the link and filled out the page and just as I was about to hit the send button I noticed the URL was some goofy thing like members.isp.com-someusername etc - and immediately closed the page - opened a new browser session and logged into my PayPal account - and checked that everything was correct. This was a couple years ago so the browsers were not as good as alerting you to this kind of problem - but as mentioned in the article if the site does not try to use SSL then the flags may not be raised. Another way to check on the authenticity of the email is to view the internet headers - sometimes they give away some info that might be hidden in the standard email. Of course that takes time - your advice to not use the email but rather to open a browser and put in the proper URL yourself is the best way to go.
  • Reply 2 of 28
    Well, anytime I see this kind of font, I immediately have a feeling in my gut that something is phony, especially when this is supposed to come from Apple.

    I'm sorry for all those who fell for it.

    The formatting error would've made even the official Apple email suspicious - if it had provided a link, I wouldn't have clicked it I think...



    But yeah: give us a way to sign our mails! You are providing a certificate already for iChat, so why not use this too for email?
  • Reply 3 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,161member
    Comment out of date
  • Reply 4 of 28
    crees!crees! Posts: 501member
    This is where 1Password comes in-handy for those times you take your eye off the ball.
  • Reply 5 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crees! View Post


    This is where 1Password comes in-handy for those times you take your eye off the ball.



    Thanks for tip. I had never heard of this till Safari 4 came out and people said it broke it. I must look into it.
  • Reply 6 of 28
    What I don't understand is, how did they get the last 4 digits of people's credit cards, or are they the same on every e-mail?
  • Reply 7 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by razorpit View Post


    What I don't understand is, how did they get the last 4 digits of people's credit cards, or are they the same on every e-mail?



    That email is the real deal from apple, the others are fake.
  • Reply 8 of 28
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by razorpit View Post


    What I don't understand is, how did they get the last 4 digits of people's credit cards, or are they the same on every e-mail?



    The scam email doesn't appear to have that on it. The example of the real

    email from Apple does show it.
  • Reply 9 of 28
    you see minor errors in non-english speaking counterpart's writing right away how come you send your credit card data on the request signed 'MobileMe' (Apple) yet lacking periods and spaces and mistaking letter case here and there
  • Reply 10 of 28
    successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Users who follow the email link and enter their information on the poorly formatted, fake Apple web page will be sorry.



    Is that how the new disclaimers for everything will read now? "People who attempt these stunts will be sorry". "People who buy a Windows machine and expect too much from it will be sorry".
  • Reply 11 of 28
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Just a friendly tip ... the etiquette police on this site will slam you for quoting the entire article especially as a self proclaimed computer expert, try Quick Reply next time ...



    Sorry - it is rare that I am the first one to reply to an article - didn't realize I was getting the full quote - plus I'm on meds for a cold - so not quite clear headed today.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post


    Sorry - it is rare that I am the first one to reply to an article - didn't realize I was getting the full quote - plus I'm on meds for a cold - so not quite clear headed today.



    Been there done that lol

    Hope you feel better soon.
  • Reply 13 of 28
    ADMINS: Can you please post grab images of the Raw Source in the email?



    The Raw Source really shows the Mail headers and the actual fraud going on.



    People have the power in their email client to create junk filters if they'd only look at their Raw Source header of the the sender.
  • Reply 14 of 28
    bbwibbwi Posts: 812member
    Well this clearly demonstrates that Apple isn't taking basic precautions to fight Spam. They should be using reverse DNS lookups, DomainKeys, and SPF
  • Reply 15 of 28
    My question is how would the scam email know the correct renewal date of the person receiving the email? Is it just a random date (which would be a huge clue that the email is fake); or did the spammer get access to that information somehow?
  • Reply 16 of 28
    Is by not giving Apple your credit card for MobileMe. If you already have MobileMe, and want to renew it, buy it somewhere else cheaper and then use the code. My credit card they have on file expired and even though my email is the same as my apple ID for iTunes which has an updated credit card, they don't share the info between the two, at least not in my account. Same goes for my Xbox Live account. Since your not buying anything physical, its cheaper and easier to buy it somewhere else and just use the code.
  • Reply 17 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by carloblackmore View Post


    My question is how would the scam email know the correct renewal date of the person receiving the email? Is it just a random date (which would be a huge clue that the email is fake); or did the spammer get access to that information somehow?



    usually they don't. they may seize that date occasionally (phisher is a buddy actually, or a buddy of a buddy, he chanced to listen to some talks about etc.). their bet is rather the email recipient doesn't remember the exact date. you can't expect more of people, who don't care to write the email without errors...
  • Reply 18 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bbwi View Post


    Well this clearly demonstrates that Apple isn't taking basic precautions to fight Spam. They should be using reverse DNS lookups, DomainKeys, and SPF



    Well Safari 4 grabs this as a phishing site...







    But I guess a few people have to get caught out before it gets blacklisted...
  • Reply 19 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by retroneo View Post


    Well Safari 4 grabs this as a phishing site...







    But I guess a few people have to get caught out before it gets blacklisted...



    That's why blacklisting sucks for phishing. Phishing links can go live and then go down in a matter of hours. By the time a human looks at the fake URL, determines it is a real phishing site, updates the blacklist, pushes out the blacklist and the client downloads the blacklist, it can be more than an hour before a URL is blacklisted. PC Magazine tested Firefox 3's antiphishing (which uses the same Google blacklist as Safari) and it detected only 60% of the attacks.



    Anti-spam programs have relied on heuristics for years, so nobody would in their right mind write an anti-spam program that used a blacklist. But anti-phishing still uses blacklists for the most part (not singling out Safari, the other browsers use it too) .
  • Reply 20 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by razorpit View Post


    What I don't understand is, how did they get the last 4 digits of people's credit cards, or are they the same on every e-mail?



    No, that was the official Apple e-mail. They were comparing what an actual e-mail from Apple would look like to the phony. Phony will never have your card info.
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