New phishing attack chats up victims

Phishers use the Jabber client to try to steal more data via chat

With many who bank online now wary of phishing attacks, criminals are adding fake live-chat support windows to their Web sites to make them seem more real.

RSA Security spotted the first ever of these "chat-in-the-middle" attacks in the past few hours, according to Sean Brady, a manager with the security company's identity protection and verification group.

The phishers send e-mails that direct victims to a fake Web page designed to look like a banking site.

That's a standard technique, but what's different in this case is that the phishing site comes with a fake online chat option, so that scammers can talk directly with their victims.

After the crooks prompt victims for their credentials, they pop up a browser window designed to look like a chat session from the bank's fraud department.

Then, via chat, they ask for even more information, including the victim's name, phone number and e-mail address.

The phishers used the open-source Jabber chat software, Brady said.

The attacks target a single U.S. bank, which Brady declined to name. But he said there's a good chance the technique will become more widespread.

"If this person has any measure of success, I would anticipate that there will either be copycats or the fraudster will do this again with other institutions," Brady said.

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Robert McMillan

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