NEWS FROM THE LAB - Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Yet Another eBay Phish Posted by Era @ 12:45 GMT

A new kind of eBay phishing attempt is going around. It's only going to fool people who have something for sale on eBay, because it's disguised as a question from another eBay member about shipping costs for "your item".

It even includes the boilerplate from a genuine eBay message which says "Your registered name is included to show this message originated from eBay", although it does not in fact contain your registered eBay screen name, for obvious reasons. The phishers only have your email address, not your eBay screen name. (Of course, they might be the same, or at least similar. One more reason to invent a truly unique screen name for all the on-line services you subscribe to.)

Screen shot of an eBay phish message

Because the message contains a number of fingerprints which are typical for forged messages, both spam and phish, it's already detected by our existing phishing rules.

This brings up another point, though. The majority of these fingerprints are based on header analysis. But when we get a spam or phishing sample, we frequently only get the body of the message (and sometimes only something like a copy-paste of what the user actually sees, or even just a screen shot).

In fact, a number of "modern" email clients make it very very hard indeed to forward a message with the full original headers intact. If you are connected to an Exchange server, it's not even possible. (Fortunately, we hear Microsoft is finally working on this.)

An example of what takes in Outlook to send a proper sample is at http://www.umkc.edu/is/cs/abuse/headers_outlook.htm, but see your own ISP's abuse pages, they probably have something quite similar ... and similary complex.

If you want to send us a proper spam or phishing sample, it would actually be a fairly good idea to install a third-party plug-in to help extract the full headers. We are aware of such plug-ins for Outlook and Eudora.

Ironically, those of us who still live in the "stone age" don't have such problems. In classical email clients such as Mutt and Gnus (and, ${dmr} bless you, Pine, if you configure it correctly) this is not a problem at all.