Spam Protection Guide

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1 Spam Protection Guide Version 1.0 Last Modified 5/29/2014 by Mike Copening Contents Overview of Spam at RTS... 1 Types of Spam... 1 Spam Tricks... 2 Imitation of 3 rd Party Template... 2 Spoofed Links... 2 Bad URL Hidden Behind Friendly Text... 3 Bad URL Hidden Behind Different URL Text... 3 URL Shortening Service... 3 Legitimate Looking URL... 4 Mass Link Tracking... 4 Spoofed Sender... 4 Fake Fax, Scan, or Voic with Dangerous Attachments... 4 Threatening Subject Matter... 5 Hacked Accounts Review Safety Checklist... 7 Reporting Spam... 7 Overview of Spam at RTS Spam is a big problem for the internet. At RTS we receive roughly 34,000 to 42,000 spam s a week; these are automatically blocked by our spam filtering software (currently Symantec). Some spam s still get through the cracks; some weeks the software is not as effective as others. Spammers are always trying to find new ways to break through anti-spam software. The following guide will make you aware of things to look out for and best practices to follow. Types of Spam The following outlines the usual types of spam that are received. Solicitations This is best defined as marketing s from legitimate 3 rd parties. There is nothing malicious in nature with these s or organizations. You may not have signed up for their services, but they are sending you that you don t care or want to see. These usually have unsubscribe links within the since their s follow the best practices of mass s. Phishing This is a malicious that attempts to get you to supply information about yourself. That information may be personal contact information, credit card or bank accounts, or other usernames and passwords. The usually pretends to be legitimate, using corporate logos and themes from legitimate s. Virus The almost always has wording in its text concerning the need to open an attachment or click a link. Most of the time, these attachments are zip files that contain executable (exe) files. Sometimes they are PDF or Word

2 Docs that contain malicious code. Sometimes they are HTML files that when launched try to take you to a website. The goal here is to infect your machine with a virus. Hacked Accounts It is very common with popular free providers like Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft to have an account hacked. Sometimes the hack will send very legitimate looking s using the person s signature and themes. Hackers may even reply to s coming from people who reply asking if the was legitimate. The hacked account usually sends the bad to the entire address book. A hacked account usually displays a link to try to phish information, such as usernames and passwords. These are the most dangerous kinds of s because they can easily fool people since it is coming from a legitimate person s account. Spam Tricks Spammers use a variety of tricks to try to get you to act upon the they have sent. The following will demonstrate how to analyze the before actually taking any action on it. Imitation of 3 rd Party Template Spammers will frequently take a 3 rd party organization s themes and use them in their own in an attempt to make you think the is legitimate. The language or nature of the will try to catch you and make you panic and click on links. In these cases, the sender of the is usually different than what a legitimate would contain. Notice how this looks like an from Walmart, however, the sender of the doesn t look like something Walmart would send, let alone, Walmart is spelled incorrectly as Wallmart (double L). Hovering over the links also reveals URL s to places not on Walmart.com, which is a form of a spoofed link. Spoofed Links Spammers will spoof links. This means that the text for the link does not go to where it says it should. A good practice with any link in is to hover over it in Outlook. Outlook will show the true URL where it is taking you. Here are five examples.

3 Bad URL Hidden Behind Friendly Text Using the same Walmart , we hover over the Visit Walmart.com link. We d think this would simply be something like However, hovering over the link shows that It is, turychina.ru.. This is obviously not something related to Walmart. The top level domain.ru is a Russian country code and is frequently associated with spam. A lot of spam comes out of the Russian, Romanian, Ukrainian block. You may also see links with.cn or.in as the top level domain, as China and India also have a lot of spam. Bad URL Hidden Behind Different URL Text As noticed here, the URL display text is literally as However, hovering over it shows a completely different URL. This is one of the most frequent spoofing of links that spammers will use. It tries to lure you into a false sense of security that you are going where the text says you d be going. This isn t true. Again, hover over the link before clicking it and see if the URL is truly facebook.com or something else. URL Shortening Service This link is using the popular bitly URL shortening service. These services let people take really long URLs and make them really short. The dangerous part with these is that the ultimate URL destination is unknown. Some organizations, social media, and mass ing services legitimately would use a URL shortening service. However, spammers can do it too. You really have to look at the rest of the to see if it looks legitimate or not before clicking. If you do click, you need to analyze the page you are on very carefully before you do anything. Especially look at the URL you have arrived at. If you are unsure who the sender is or do not feel the is legitimate, it is always better safe than sorry and simply not click it if a URL shortening service was used.

4 Legitimate Looking URL Sometimes, spammers will use legitimate services to spread their phishing attack or viruses. DropBox.com is a legitimate service that millions of people use. However, there is no telling what this URL will actually do if clicked. It could be a malicious file or a phishing attempt. Mass Link Tracking Similar to bitly, many mass ing systems do link tracking. These systems create a URL in their system that then redirects to the actual URL. Our own ListServe has this ability. Generally, if you see these you have to use good judgment to determine if it is a legitimate URL. Many companies have their own mass mailing system, and their top level domain is built into the link tracking URL (this is what RTS does as seen below). Usually all links in the look similar when this is the case. Spoofed Sender Every so often a spammer will forge the from address on an . Setting a from address as something different than the sender is very easy to accomplish and sometimes legitimate, however, it is a way that spammers will try to catch people off guard. Most often, the to you is also from you. If you didn t send it, it is likely just a spammer spoofing your from address on their spam . Looking at the headers (an IT person can help), can determine if it was truly sent by your account or spoofed. Below is an example of a spoofed Fake Fax, Scan, or Voic with Dangerous Attachments A very common spam is to try to fake organizational services that to people regularly. Such as copier scans, faxes, or voic s that go to . More often than not, the attachment will be quarantined but sometimes it isn t. Below are examples of a fake scan, fake fax, and fake voic .

5 Threatening Subject Matter Spammers will frequently try to catch you off guard with a very threatening or scary message. Many times, they will play off recent news stories about major corporations being hacked (Target in 2013 or Ebay in 2014 are recent examples). Below is a typical threatening message about banking from WellsFargo. These s always tend to tell you your account has attempted to be hacked, is being suspended, or that there are fraudulent transactions on your account and that you have to click a link to take corrective action. As always, if you hover over the URL, it will usually reveal something malicious. It is better to call your bank s official number if you are in doubt than click a link.

6 Hacked Accounts Hacked accounts are the most dangerous types of spam. Below are some examples of people s accounts who were hacked. Generally, they send malicious phishing or virus links. Attachments would generally be blocked by the mail provider. You really need to look at the content carefully. If it looks like a strange link or request that the person would not normally send you, do not do anything. Instead, call the person if you know them and alert them that their may have been hacked. Above is a simple link only from a hacked account. Above is a dangerous using signature spam from hacked account. There is also an in distress from a hacked account, usually revolving around someone supposedly traveling abroad and having been injured or attacked and having lost money. Those s usually ask for someone to

7 send them money and involve abnormal instructions for doing so. These are always spam. These are dangerous in our environment since our staff and faculty know a lot of missionaries who are abroad. Review Safety Checklist As a summary, it is a good idea to go through this quick checklist on every you receive, especially from people sending outside domain. Do not panic. Panicking about an will tend to lead you to not think clearly. Some of these can be very scary, always stop and take a deep breath and follow the remaining bullets. Review the sender / from address on the . Review who received the . If a lot of random people are listed, it is likely a spam. If your name is not listed, it is likely spam. If only your name is listed, it still may be spam. Hover over URLs to show the true destination of the link in the . Always be very careful with attachments; if it is a zip file be very wary. If you don t know the sender or were not expecting it, do not open it. Read the content carefully. If it looks funny, even if from a legitimate account, it could be a hacked account. When in doubt, ask your IT staff to review your . Reporting Spam If you receive a lot of spam or a spam of a very consistent nature, forward the spam as an attachment to To forward the message as an attachment, click on the message in the inbox (or folder) and hit CTRL + ALT + F on the keyboard. This will create a new with the selected message as an attachment. You can do this for multiple s at the same time as well. It is important to do this, because it will allow us to forward the to Symantec and/or review the headers of the to diagnose it. #1 Select the Message and hit CTRL + ALT + F #2 Send the to You should see the offending message(s) you want to forward in the attachments section of your new message.

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