PayPal mistakes own email for phishing attack

'You're right, it does look suspicious'


Banks and financial institutions are fond of lecturing customers about the perils of phishing emails, the bogus messages that attempt to trick marks into handing over their login credentials to fraudulent sites. Yet many undo this good work by sending out emails themselves that invite users to click on a link and log into their account rather than going a safer route and telling users to use bookmarked versions of their site.

The problems of the former approach are neatly illustrated by a blog posting by Randy Abrams, a former Microsoft staffer who is now director of technical education at anti-virus firm Eset. Abrams complained about the inclusion of a link in an email from PayPal as it looked rather too much like a phishing email.

PayPal support staffers responded not by noting that Abrams may have a point, which it would consider, but by treating its own email - which it acknowledged was "suspicious-looking" - as a phishing attack.

"Not even PayPal support can tell the difference between a legitimate PayPal email and a phishing attack," Abrams notes.

PayPal is one of the most phished brands on the internet, a back-handed tribute to the eBay subsidiary's success in the online payment market, so it would do well to listen to Abrams' advice not to include links to login pages in genuine communiques. Many banks make exactly the same security faux pas, as many Reg correspondents over the years will attest, and also need to revise their procedures. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Will this be one of the world's first RISC-V laptops?
    A sneak peek at a notebook that could be revealed this year

    Pic As Apple and Qualcomm push for more Arm adoption in the notebook space, we have come across a photo of what could become one of the world's first laptops to use the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture.

    In an interview with The Register, Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V International, signaled we will see a RISC-V laptop revealed sometime this year as the ISA's governing body works to garner more financial and development support from large companies.

    It turns out Philipp Tomsich, chair of RISC-V International's software committee, dangled a photo of what could likely be the laptop in question earlier this month in front of RISC-V Week attendees in Paris.

    Continue reading
  • Did ID.me hoodwink Americans with IRS facial-recognition tech, senators ask
    Biz tells us: Won't someone please think of the ... fraud we've stopped

    Democrat senators want the FTC to investigate "evidence of deceptive statements" made by ID.me regarding the facial-recognition technology it controversially built for Uncle Sam.

    ID.me made headlines this year when the IRS said US taxpayers would have to enroll in the startup's facial-recognition system to access their tax records in the future. After a public backlash, the IRS reconsidered its plans, and said taxpayers could choose non-biometric methods to verify their identity with the agency online.

    Just before the IRS controversy, ID.me said it uses one-to-one face comparisons. "Our one-to-one face match is comparable to taking a selfie to unlock a smartphone. ID.me does not use one-to-many facial recognition, which is more complex and problematic. Further, privacy is core to our mission and we do not sell the personal information of our users," it said in January.

    Continue reading
  • Meet Wizard Spider, the multimillion-dollar gang behind Conti, Ryuk malware
    Russia-linked crime-as-a-service crew is rich, professional – and investing in R&D

    Analysis Wizard Spider, the Russia-linked crew behind high-profile malware Conti, Ryuk and Trickbot, has grown over the past five years into a multimillion-dollar organization that has built a corporate-like operating model, a year-long study has found.

    In a technical report this week, the folks at Prodaft, which has been tracking the cybercrime gang since 2021, outlined its own findings on Wizard Spider, supplemented by info that leaked about the Conti operation in February after the crooks publicly sided with Russia during the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

    What Prodaft found was a gang sitting on assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars funneled from multiple sophisticated malware variants. Wizard Spider, we're told, runs as a business with a complex network of subgroups and teams that target specific types of software, and has associations with other well-known miscreants, including those behind REvil and Qbot (also known as Qakbot or Pinkslipbot).

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022