Early last week, I fell into the trap of some sort of phishing attempt on Yahoo! instant messenger. I received an offline message that was sent by a friend with a link to some photos on a geocities site. I usually don’t click on links sent to me through IM but for some reason I was curious to see what photos my friend wanted to share and clicked on it. I was directed to Yahoo’s log-in page but after accessing my account it did not direct me to any photos except my own “Yahoo! Photos.” I didn’t think much of it but after a few minutes, I was booted from messenger with a note saying that I logged in using a different machine. Since I am usually on “mobile” status, I checked my cell phone to be sure but was not connected from there either.
Later that day another friend messaged me asking what photos I was trying to share as she did not find anything in a link I supposedly sent. Photos? What photos? I didn’t share any photos! That’s when it hit me – it was the same fake link I received.
Security has certainly been a big issue for Internet users and corporations over the last several years. With the increasing use of IM services, IM-related threats are on the rise. According to a recent article on TechWeb, a Symantec Security Threat Report notes that the greatest IM threat right now are worms, which made up 91 percent of all malicious IM code in the second half of 2005, showing a 10 percent increase from the first half of last year. IM threats are not just limited to worms, however, as instant messaging systems are also being used to spread other malicious code and threats, including phishing attempts, viruses and spam.
In an era where Nigerian email scams are so ubiquitous we can probably spot it with our eyes closed, there’s always some new scheme that throws us off track. First it was through email, now it’s instant messaging. I am yet to find out what that Yahoo! photo-sharing hoopla was about and how it will affect me, but as a precaution I have changed my Yahoo! password. I also downloaded a free anti-virus software for Yahoo! Messenger to remove any worms that may be on my computer and to alert me to anything suspicious in the future.
-Sylvie Tongco, Reichert Communications, LLC