'Rock Phish' blamed for surge in attacks
Group described as 'sort of the Keyser Söze of phishing'
IDG News Service - The first thing you need to know about Rock Phish is that nobody knows exactly who, or what, they are.
Wikipedia defines the Rock Phish Kit as "a popular tool designed to help nontechnical people create and carry out phishing attacks," but according to security experts, that definition is not correct. They say that Rock Phish is actually a person, or perhaps a group of people, who are behind as much as one-half of the phishing attacks being carried out these days.
No one can say for sure where Rock Phish is based, or if the group operates out of a single country.
"They are sort of the Keyser Söze of phishing," said Zulfikar Ramzan, senior principal researcher with Symantec's Security Response group, referring to the secretive criminal kingpin in the 1995 film The Usual Suspects.
"They're doing some pretty scary things out there," he added.
This criminal organization first appeared in late 2004 and was given the name "Rock Phish" because the URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) on the group's fake sites included a distinctive subdirectory named "rock," a technique the group abandoned once phishing filters began looking for the word.
Since then, it has grown to be one of the most prominent phishing groups in operation. It has developed a variety of new attack techniques that have earned the group a kind of grudging respect among security professionals, several of whom declined to be interviewed on the record for this story for fear of being physically harmed. They estimated that the criminal organization's phishing schemes have cost banks more than $100 million to date.
Rock Phish is not known for targeting the two most popular phishing targets -- eBay and PayPal. Instead, it specializes in European and U.S. financial institutions. At last count, the group had spoofed 44 brands from businesses in nine countries, sending out e-mails that try to trick victims into visiting phony Web sites and entering information such as credit card numbers and passwords. Rock Phish sites have spoofed Citibank, ETrade, Barclays and Deutsche Bank, among others.
Security experts estimated that Rock Phish is responsible for between one-third and one-half of all phishing messages being sent out on any given day. "They are probably the most active group of phishers in the world," said Dan Hubbard, senior director, security and technology research with Websense Inc.
What causes particular concern among security experts such as Hubbard is Rock Phish's ability to stay one step ahead of both security products and law enforcement.
For example, Rock Phish pioneered image spam: the technique of sending e-mail messages in graphic files in order to bypass spam filters, according to security experts.
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Acxiom Case Study This case study, which focuses on Acxiom, explores how the company was able to secure employee data, reduce migration costs and boost productivity...
- Windows® XP Migration: Protect and Secure Critical Data With the end of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system's lifecycle on April 8, 2014, businesses are faced with the decision to migrate...
- Enhancing Application Protection and Recovery with a Modern Approach to Snapshot Management This CommVault Business Value and Technology White Paper explains how Simpana IntelliSnap® Recovery Manager can make your application recovery fast and reliable.
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Security White Papers | Webcasts