Defense Techniques: Reporting Phish

While I have a day job, I’ve been moonlighting as a crimefighting superhero for almost twenty years. No, I’m not a billionaire who dons a rubber bat suit to beat up bad guys– I’m instead flagging phishing websites that try to steal money and personal information from the less tech-savvy among us. I have hadContinue reading “Defense Techniques: Reporting Phish”

Attack Techniques: Priming Attacks on Legitimate Sites

Earlier today, we looked at two techniques for attackers to evade anti-phishing filters by using lures that are not served from http and https urls that are subject to reputation analysis. A third attack technique is to send a lure that entices a user to visit a legitimate site and perform an unsafe operation onContinue reading “Attack Techniques: Priming Attacks on Legitimate Sites”

Attack Techniques: Phishing via Mailto

Earlier today, we looked at a technique where a phisher serves his attack from the user’s own computer so that anti-phishing code like SmartScreen and SafeBrowsing do not have a meaningful URL to block. A similar technique is to encode the attack within a mailto URL, because anti-phishing scanners and email clients rarely apply reputationContinue reading “Attack Techniques: Phishing via Mailto”

Attack Techniques: Phishing via Local Files

One attack technique I’ve seen in use recently involves enticing the victim to enter their password into a locally-downloaded HTML file. The attack begins by the victim receiving an email with a HTML file attachment (for me, often with the .shtml file extension): When the user opens the file, a credential prompt is displayed, withContinue reading “Attack Techniques: Phishing via Local Files”

TLS Certificate Verification Changes in Edge

When establishing a secure HTTPS connection with a server, a browser must validate that the certificate sent by the server is valid — that is to say, that: In the past, Chromium running on Windows delegated this validation task to APIs in the operating system, layering a minimal set of additional validation (e.g. this) onContinue reading “TLS Certificate Verification Changes in Edge”

“Not Secure” Warning for IE Mode

A customer recently wrote to ask whether there was any way to suppress the red “/!\ Not Secure” warning shown in the omnibox when IE Mode loads a HTTPS site containing non-secure images: Notably, this warning isn’t seen when the page is loaded in modern Edge mode or in Chrome, because all non-secure “optionally-blockable” resourceContinue reading ““Not Secure” Warning for IE Mode”

Q: Why do tabs sometimes show an orange dot?

Sometimes, you’ll notice that a background tab has an orange dot on it in Edge (or a blue dot in Chrome). If you click on the tab, the dot disappears. Why? The dot indicates that the tab wants “attention” — more specifically, that there’s a dialog in the tab asking for your attention. This mightContinue reading “Q: Why do tabs sometimes show an orange dot?”

Capturing Logs for Debugging SmartScreen

The Microsoft Edge browser makes use of a service called Microsoft Defender SmartScreen to help protect users from phishing websites and malicious downloads. The SmartScreen service integrates with a Microsoft threat intelligence service running in the cloud to quickly block discovered threats. As I explained last year, the SmartScreen service also helps reduce spurious securityContinue reading “Capturing Logs for Debugging SmartScreen”

HTTPS Goofs: Forgetting the Bare Domain

As I mentioned, the top failure of HTTPS is failing to use it, and that’s particularly common in in-bound links sent via email, in newsletters, and the like. Unfortunately, there’s another common case, whereby the user simply types your bare domain name (example.com) in the browser’s address bar without specifying https:// first. For decades, manyContinue reading “HTTPS Goofs: Forgetting the Bare Domain”

Badware Techniques: Notification Spam

I tried visiting an old colleague’s long-expired blog today, just to see what would happen. I got redirected here: Wat? What is this even talking about? There’s no “Allow” link or button anywhere. The clue is that tiny bell with a red X in the omnibox– This site tried to ask for permission to spamContinue reading “Badware Techniques: Notification Spam”