Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lead Person behind International Cyber Phishing Sentenced 5 Years in Prison

Nichole Michelle Merzi, a lead figure in what’s considered to be the largest international cyber phishing to date, is sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by the US District Court in Los Angeles.
Merzi is reported to loot thousands of dollars through common phishing techniques. She teamed up with Egypt-based hackers who carried out the illicit activity. According to the report issued by the FBI, victims, who were mainly customers of Wells Fargo and Bank of America, were sent emails claiming to be sent by their banks. They were then redirected to a website exactly similar to that of legit banking and financial institutions where they are asked to submit their credentials.

Once account information is obtained, hackers navigate through the customers’ account to transfer the money to their own bank accounts in California.

Merzi’s imprisonment sound good new but it is never a guarantee to a more secure online transaction. Be smart and identify which website runs SSL certificates before submitting any account details.

Elements of an SSL Certificate Trusted Website
You need not be an information technology expert to know if the website you are visiting is secure or not. You just need to be keen enough to look for the key indicators of a secure website.

The address bar of the browser is the key area to take note of when assessing a website. Once you notice that the URL starts with HTTPS instead of the standard HTTP, the website is trusted with SSL certificate. A padlock on the address bar also indicates that the website is encrypted with SSL authentication technology.

Image from GMO GlobalSign

For further verification, you may opt to click the padlock to see the issuing Certification Authority and the website owner’s details.

Due to the ever-increasing phishing attacks, many companies are using advanced SSL certificates, GlobalSign Extended Validation (EV) SSL being one, to assure customers that they’re on the genuine site. EV SSL activates the green address bar allowing customers to validate the site with just a glance.

Image from GMO GlobalSign

Colon, M. (2012). Cyber crime ringleader sentenced to five years in prison. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from, http://www.scmagazine.com/cyber-crime-ringleader-sentenced-to-five-years-in-prison/article/241822/

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Keywords: SSL Certificate, EV