Phishers use MasterCard securecode and financial discounts to trick unwary users, reports Sophos

April 08, 2008 Sophos Press Release

Experts at SophosLabs are warning MasterCard users to be on their guard against any emails which claim to come from the company following the discovery of a phishing campaign which attempts to entice victims with the promise of money off future purchases.

The content of this phishing email is unusual since it attempts to lure users to sign up to SecureCode and receive extra security protection for their MasterCard accounts, by offering a 16 percent discount on future purchases made with the card. In contrast, typical phishing campaigns ask users to confirm details for maintenance purposes or due to database corruption.

In reality, users that click on the link contained within the email are redirected to a phishing site, set up to look almost identical to the genuine MasterCard website. Visitors are then asked to supply confidential information including credit card expiration date, date of birth and the three digit security code located on the back of the card - ample information for the cybercriminals to then access and use the account in question to steal money.

"MasterCard has been very successful in positioning SecureCode as the answer to online fraud, and with so many computer users growing increasingly worried about the risks of shopping online, the prospect of greater security and money off can be too much to resist," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant, Sophos. "What's more, phishers are putting a lot more effort into their scams these days and to the undiscerning eye, it's almost impossible to tell this isn't the real MasterCard site. Computer users must be wary of simply clicking on links in unsolicited emails and should take time to verify the site address first - it may take a little longer, but will protect your money and identity from preying cybercriminals in the long run. Also, everyone needs to use a little common sense - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and viruses.