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Warning: new gmail phishing scam that could give hackers access to your accounts

Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey
Jan 19, 2017

A new email hacking scam has caught out everyone, from senior politicos in the US to university students.

The scam is a form of what is known as a “phishing”, and is geared to allow hackers to gain access to your gmail email account password.

The password for people’s email is often the same as those used for other accounts, allowing the hackers to access these other accounts.

According to people already targeted by the scam, potential victims are sent an email from a contact they already know, often with a document attached.

In the past, such scams have been easy to spot. Phishing messages were often crudely written, bordering on incomprehensible.

But this new scam is a lot more sophisticated and harder to detect. The messages are designed to mimic the type of email sent in the past to the recipient by the contact the scam artist is posing as.  

The message will also include an attachment, which the potential-victim of the fraud is encouraged by the sender to open, usually in the form of a PDF document.

The recipient is then taken to a webpage that looks like a gmail account log in page, and is asked to log back in. The victim, in theory, simply thinks they have been logged out of their account.

The mirror site has been reported to be very convincing.

It has even fooled John Podesta, a senior member of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, with his email being hacked in this way during the US presidential election.

 

How do I protect myself?

The simplest way to protect against this scam is to have a unique password for your gmail account.

Do not use the same password for your email as for other important accounts.

That won’t stop your email necessarily getting hacked, which itself can be damaging, but at least it will contain the threat.  

Other than that, question emails you are being sent by your contact list.

If your friend sends you a document out of the blue, query them about it before opening.

And if your account asks you to log in again during the middle of use, close your browser and reload gmail again.

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