Sunday, December 27, 2015

Emergent phishing attacks

This one amused me.

I have an email address in one of my domains that redirects to an immutable long-random-username address assigned by Appigo. Messages to that address create tasks on Appigo’s [1]. Today when I opened I had a task that included a phishing attack link. The “Dear xxx” introduction included the username portion of my redirect task.

This clearly wasn’t a specific phishing attack; it was a routine email phishing attack. Gmail would have sent it directly to spam, but of course this route bypassed spam filtering. Having a phishing attack appear on my task lists was an emergent result of using a “secret” email address as a data interface.

The good news is that the email redirection I used is also a form of defense. Appigo doesn’t provide a way to change their secret email address (not smart of them), but since I created a short memorable version their immutable “backdoor” was not exposed. I can change the redirect address I control.

Intelligent systems are rather hard to secure. Which is why the Internet of Things is a mistake. Make no system smarter than it needs to be…

[1] I use this app extensively on iOS and OS X, but I don’t recommend it because there’s no data export or archiving support. Of course most of the competition are no better, but OmniFocus and Toodledo provide export.

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