Warning over fake Google Docs emails — SCAM ALERT

How is the Google Docs phishing scam different from others?

An aggressive phishing campaign went viral yesterday that impacted multiple Google Mail users, which includes enterprise Google deployments.

The attack "might have been a proof-of-concept thing carried out by someone who was not very savvy about flying under the radar", said Stephen Cobb, a senior researcher in the San Diego office of ESET, a security company. The vast majority of email that lands in your Inbox is entirely innocuous, and worrying about a phishing attack every time you open a message is no way to live. But the app called "Google Docs" was really another app altogether that used the same name and set in motion all manner of nastiness.

But despite the cunning simplicity of the attack's presentation - which would have made it hard for many to discern that something was fishy - experts say there were tell-tale signs indicating that something wasn't right.

The only difference is that Austin used a Cyrillic character, used in Russian Federation, for the letter "o" in his app's name.

Incidents like this "are becoming more commonplace as cyberciminal networks accumulate an ever-increasing number of accounts to target that have been cultivated through other attacks and breaches", said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel Security in Palo Alto. "If you think you clicked on a fraudulent email, visit g.co/SecurityCheckup and remove apps you don't recognize".

Google issued a statement to several tech outlets.

"Many people/organizations have received similar attempts, so this is probably something massive and less targeted", Blasco said. While most phishing scams are easy to spot, this one fooled many veteran internet users.

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Through OAuth, users don't have to hand over any password information.

Google says they've stopped the attack for now, and are working to prevent this from happening again.

But like any technology, OAuth can be exploited. Google has been facing the brunt of it on its various services. The page wouldn't even prompt you for your password, instead, have already listed all your Google accounts that are ready to be clicked.

It's easy to be caught out, because the hack poses as someone you know and asks you to view and edit a Google Doc.

Rather than hide those details, all of it should be shown to users, Parecki said. "But there are some risks with it". More so, Google disabled the offending accounts as well as removed the fake pages, and pushed updates through Safe Browsing and its abuse team.

Users don't have to take additional action, although Google encouraged those who want to be extra safe to run its security check feature.

Now with the Gmail app updates, when a phony link appears in an e-mail, Google will warn the user, with an alert: "The site you are trying to visit has been identified as a forgery meant to trick you into disclosing financial, personal or other sensitive information".

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(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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