In response to the news that Airbnb customers are being targeted with GDPR-related phishing scams, IT security experts at ESET and Outpost24 commented below.
Martin Jartelius, CSO at Outpost24:
“In modern phishing attacks, advice such as “look for fake email addresses” no longer holds true. Companies with more advanced technologies would be able to detect spoof emails accurately, otherwise there is nothing that prevents a sender from pretending to be someone else.
The best way for organizations to mitigate phishing attempts is to ensure user details (such as registered emails) are not exposed publicly in the first place, and to use available technologies such as SPF, DKIM and DMARC to ensure that email validity can be checked and verified.
But as phishing does not rely on an organization’s servers, IT systems or staff, it is very hard to eliminate it completely. For users who fell victim to this scam – change your credentials (login and password) for any affected systems; contact your bank and review your billing history to confirm if your payment details are compromised; and if it was just general information, consider it a lesson learnt and act with more care in the future.”
Mark James, Security Specialist at ESET:
“As with any special event that attracts large amounts of interest you will always find scammers and malicious actors trying to take advantage. Some utilise a “fan” interest like an annual sports event or a heart touching event that encourages public interaction. However, one thing we can always be sure of is a steady flow of fake or scam emails trying to blend into the official ones and trick the end user.
GDPR falls perfectly under this category, the public are expecting these emails, it’s not out of the blue.
It’s not always easy to determine if emails are good or bad but we should always double check the contents of any email especially before submitting any personal or private information. If you have an doubts then I would contact the original company by a separate means and verify why they want that data.”
Paul Edon, Technical Director at Tripwire:
“Hackers are getting better at creating ways to trick users, and this attack on Airbnb customers is evident of that. Phishing campaigns are extremely popular and aim to dupe people into giving away personal and financial information, which is why individuals should be vigilant of the links and attachments sent to them. If you believe it could be suspicious then avoid interacting. However, malicious cyber criminals are preying on human naivety which is why these attacks continue to be used. Granted, it is becoming difficult to track malicious attackers as they are getting better at mimicking valid content from reputable organisations. The best way people can help avoid future attacks is by educating themselves about the risks and consequences of clicking unknown links and attachments. Regardless of whether you believe the email to be legitimate or not, never click on inbuilt links. Always open your own web browser and log in to your account on the official website. If there is a legitimate requirement for you to update or re-enter information, it should be referenced within your specific account instance.”
Tim Helming, Director of Product Management at DomainTools:
“Cybercriminals are just as attentive as the rest of us to the news, and GDPR has been difficult to escape for the last year. As consumers receive more and more legitimate emails from brands engaging with best practices in advance of GDPR, it only follows as logical (and somewhat ironic) that scammers would take advantage of this. Phishers thrive on a lack of caution from their targets, so masking a scam as part of a legitimate flurry of emails comes as no surprise. Users who receive a GDPR email should be aware that personal details or credit card information should not be handed over, in any scenario, as part of an organization moving towards a GDPR compliant policy.”