11/17/08
10:22 am

MacMost Now 160: Safari 3.2 Anti-Phishing Protection

The new version of the Safari Web browser includes a feature that will alert you if you go to a suspected malicious Web site. Learn more about this protection and how you can further protect yourself against phishing attacks.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary of MacMost Now. Today let's look at how the new Safari 3.2 will protect you from phishing attacks.
So what is a phishing attack? Phishing, spelled with a P-H, is a type of attack where somebody tries to con you out of some of your information, like say your credit card number or password to your bank website. You'll get an e-mail that looks like it might come from someone you do business with, like say your bank. In the e-mail it asks you to log on for some reason, maybe to correct a piece of information or to do some account activity or something. It all looks official, maybe it even uses graphics and the logo from your actual bank. You click on the link and it takes you to a website that looks just like your bank website or something reasonably close. And there's the login information. You log in the information and you might even get a message back saying that it's all okay.
But what you didn't know is that website you went to wasn't your bank at all; it was some other website and it just collected your ID and password and stored it for somebody to later go into your account and remove money, do some illegal transaction . . . who knows.
Now back in episode number 54 of MacMost Now we talked about phishing. We talked about how it's pretty easy to spot. All you have to do is look carefully at the URL you're actually clicking on in the e-mail. Instead of being, say, mybank.com you'll find out it's something like mybank.com.some-other-domain.com or maybe it's a series of numbers that represents an IP address, it's not even a domain name. So it looks real but it's actually taking you to someplace that's not your bank.
The easy way to get around this is whenever you get an e-mail like that to examine it and see if it actually is a phishing attack. Or if you're not sure don't click on the link in the e-mail, but instead go to the website by typing the domain name of the website as you know it or using the bookmark that you've saved for the legitimate website.
But now with Safari 3.2, Safari's going to help you as well. When you go to a website that may be a phishing website, Safari's going to give you a warning. The warning's going to look something like this. You can see here that the domain name is actually a series of numbers followed by chaseonline.chase.com. In other words it's trying to make you think you're going to chase.com by tricking you, but you're not at all. This IP address is actually in a database, a database created by Google that shows suspected phishing sites. So it's going to give you this warning here. You can ignore the warning if you're absolutely sure you really want to do this or you can close the page. You can also click on the link to learn more about phishing scams.
When you click on that link you go to this page at Google that shows you more about phishing. Also, if you select "preferences" in Safari you'll see that there's a new checkbox to warn when visiting fraudulent websites and it's checked by default. That's your only option. So there's not a lot of depth here to this feature in Safari, but at least it's here now.
This may be somewhat of a reaction to what PayPal threatened to do a while back which was to not allow people with a Safari web browser to use PayPal. You see, PayPal considered Safari to be a little insecure because it didn't have an anti-phishing feature like this. PayPal is very susceptible to phishing attacks; it's one of the most common targets.
This new feature of Safari is already being criticized as not good enough. Apparently some suspected phishing sites are not showing up with this alert, so you want to remain vigilant. Make sure if you get an e-mail, no matter how official it looks, that you check to make sure the URL is real and it's not directing you to someplace else.
Till next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: One Response to “MacMost Now 160: Safari 3.2 Anti-Phishing Protection”

    Vicki
    8/16/09 @ 2:21 pm

    When they trained me to answer phones for Microsoft’s help desk, you wouldn’t believe all the stuff I had to learn about phishing and other types of scams and bugs that Outlook (or Outlook Express) was susceptible to. I had over three pages of notes on it within the first day.
    My friend said Macs aren’t susceptible to all those other things to the same degree, just phishing scams and something else that had to do with Firewalls and chat rooms. I don’t remember, b/c I have such a hard time understanding computer programming concepts. He mentioned IRC, though; I recall acronyms with ease, b/c my work is full of them. He also mentioned “locking hackers out with a password.”
    I never asked him to explain that, but I’ve always wondered what it means.

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