The other day I got a Direct Message via Twitter. I think of myself as a fairly astute and savvy Internet user, and have never been bitten by a phishing scam. I am not saying that to turn myself in to a target. I am saying it because the other night I fell for the first piece in a phisher’s tricky puzzle.
The Twitter Direct Message was from someone I (believe I) follow. And the message basically said, “Someone is talking bad about you”, and included a link.
Now, I have received more than my fair share of notices from London barristers informing me that a long lost acquaintance has left vast fortunes in their estate. Indeed, if only I had a dollar for all the emails I have received with that message, I believe I would be wealthy (who knew that rich aunties could provide you with such a great source of passive income??).
So when I do get an email announcing wealth or winnings, I never believe it.
But a Twitter DM? That was different.
So, I clicked. And the result? Hang on for that…
The Back Story
First, let me tell you that before I clicked I ran through my mental checklist, first noting I was on my Mac Book Pro (fully patched), which gave me a higher confidence.
Second, as of one month ago, I actually am using antivirus on my Mac (it works well, and doesn’t dog the system down).
So, as I clicked I felt confident. And besides, I really wanted to see what bad thing it might be that was supposedly being said about me.
I fell not for the lure of riches. No, I rose to the bait of my pride being wounded by negative comments about me.
The truth is, phishing works because we want to believe or not believe something bad enough that we will throw caution to the wind. Phishing works because it exploits our own personal foibles or traits. Though I felt “protected”, I fell for the bait.
Did I Get Hooked?
After I clicked, I knew immediately I had fallen for a phishing tactic. How did I know? Was it my anti-virus that caught the problem?
Nope. It was my use of a free DNS service called OpenDNS!
The quick answer is that OpenDNS is a service that I use on my home network to keep the bad guys out. I do that by configuring my firewall (DD-WRT on a Linksys WRT54GL) to use OpenDNS instead of my ISP’s DNS servers. (If that sounds confusing, you’ll want to hang around for a future post on configuring your router to use OpenDNS.)
OpenDNS has an ever growing database of websites that it knows to be used by phishers or to be infected with malware. It blocks access to any computer on my home network trying to go to the site.
So…the moral of the story is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
In part 2 of this, I will walk you through how to configure OpenDNS for use on your home network.
What about you? Have you fallen into a phisher’s trap? What was the result? What steps have you taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again?