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A Phish Called Tabby

By Mike Rothman

Thanks to Aza Raskin, this week we learned of a new phishing attack, dubbed “tabnabbing” by Brian Krebs. It opening a tab (unbeknownst to the user), changes the favicon, and does a great job of impersonating a web page – or a bank account, or any other phishing target. Through the magic of JavaScript, the tabs can be controlled and the attack made very hard to detect since it preys on the familiarity of users with common webmail and banking interfaces.

So what do you do? You can run NoScript in your Firefox browser and to prevent the JavaScript from running (unless you idiotically allowed JavaScript on a compromised page). Another option is leveraging a password manager. Both Rich and I have professed our love for 1Password on the Mac. 1Password puts a button in your browser, and when logging in brings up a choice of credentials for that specific domain to automatically fill in the form. So when I go to Gmail, logging in is as easy as choosing one of the 4 separate logins I use on google.com domains.

Now if I navigate to the phishing site, which looks exactly like Gmail, I’d still be protected. 1Password would not show me any stored logins for that domain, since presumably the phisher must use a different domain. This isn’t foolproof because the phisher could compromise the main domain, host the page there, and then I’m hosed. I could also manually open up 1Password and copy/paste the login credentials, but that’s pretty unlikely. I’d instantly know something was funky if my logins were not accessible, and I’d investigate. Both of these scenarios are edge cases and I believe in a majority of situations I’d be protected.

I’m not familiar with password managers on Windows, but if they have similar capabilities, we highly recommend you use one. So not only can I use an extremely long password on each sensitive site, I get some phishing protection as a bonus. Nice.

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