Bad guys are looking to steal Google account passwords via a new and well-written phishing attack that is hard to catch with traditional heuristic detection, researchers said.
The way Google Chrome displays data: URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers) makes Chrome users most vulnerable, however the phishing attack also targets Mozilla Firefox users, said researchers at security provider Bitdefender.
“With access to users’ Google accounts, hackers can buy apps on Google Play, hijack Google+ accounts and access confidential Google Drive documents,” said Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at Bitdefender. “The scam starts with an email allegedly sent by Google, with “Mail Notice” or “New Lockout Notice” as a subject.”
“This is a reminder that your email account will be locked out in 24 hours,” the email said. “Due to not being able to increase your Email storage Quota. Go to the INSTANT INCREASE to increase your Email storage automatically.”
When clicking the INSTANT INCREASE link, users end up redirected to a Google login web page that imitates the authentic one and asks for their credentials.
“What is interesting about this phishing attack is that users end up having the ‘data:’ in their browser’s address bar, which indicates the use of a data URI scheme,” Cosoi said.
The data URI scheme allows scammers to include data in-line in web pages as if they were external resources. The scheme uses Base64 encoding to represent file contents, in this case supplying the content of the fake web page in an encoded string within the data URI.
As Google Chrome doesn’t show the whole string, regular users have a hard time figuring out they are the target of a phishing attack and may give their data to cyber-criminals.
Scammers usually pose as services that contact people by email for announcements or notifications. Google, Facebook, eBay, phone services and financial institutions are among phishers’ favorite disguises to invade inboxes worldwide.