The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently issued an alert warning the public about vishing campaigns [see related post]. Vishing is defined by the FBI as “a form of criminal phone fraud, using social engineering over the telephone system to gain access to private personal and financial information for the purpose of financial reward.”
Vishing basically means that cyber criminals are gathering publicly-available information on companies and employees so they get to know a lot about them, and then they call employees on their cell phones to try to get them to believe that they are from IT support and that a new VPN (virtual private network) is being used. They then assist the employee with activating the new VPN and in the process obtain the employee’s credentials to access the company’s system and look for new victims.
We all know not to give our credentials to strangers via email. We also know not to give our credentials or personal information to anyone over the telephone. That said, the joint alert makes it clear that people who are working from home are falling victim to this campaign as there is no face-to-face authentication, and the criminals have gathered so much information on the individual employee that the employee believes it is a co-worker calling to assist.
Beware of giving any information to anyone over the telephone (or via email for that matter).
The Alert gives the following “End-User Tips”:
- Verify that web links do not have misspellings or contain the wrong domain.
- Bookmark the correct corporate VPN URL and do not visit alternative URLs on the sole basis of an inbound phone call.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from unknown individuals claiming to be from a legitimate organization. Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information. If possible, try to verify the caller’s identity directly with the company.
- If you receive a vishing call, document the phone number of the caller as well as the domain that the actor tried to send you to and relay this information to law enforcement.
- Limit the amount of personal information you post on social networking sites. The internet is a public resource; only post information you are comfortable with anyone seeing.
- Evaluate your settings: sites may change their options periodically, so review your security and privacy settings regularly to make sure that your choices are still appropriate.
For more information on how to stay safe on social networking sites and avoid social engineering and phishing attacks, refer to the CISA Security Tips below.