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How cybercriminals can access your Gmail account
SECURITY

How cybercriminals can access your Gmail account 

The comprehensive 80-page report reveals a disturbing trend that malware and cyber related crimes are rising at a very rapid pace. In 2015 alone, more than 430 million new unique pieces of malware were discovered by Symantec, which is a 36 per cent increase over 2014. 

In the section, Trust no one, the report highlights traditional scams that are being used to gather personal information. One such scam tried to fool users into revealing their passwords by promising a large number of followers on Instagram while others tried to impersonate tax officials. But what is most concerning is that in 2015, attackers used sophisticated ways to bypass the two-factor authentication systems designed to safeguard users. 

For the rest of this article, we will look at how attackers are using the legitimate password-reset process of Google via SMS to gain access to email accounts without raising any suspicion from victims. 

According to this report here is a step-by-step progression as to how a cybercriminal can gain access to your Google account. 

First, the attacker obtains the victim’s email address and phone number, which are usually publicly available. Next, the attacker poses as the victim and requests a password reset from Google.

Google then sends the code to the victim. The attacker then texts the victim with a message similar to: “Google has detected unusual activity on your account. Please respond with the code sent to your mobile device to stop unauthorized activity.”

After receiving this SMS the victim therefore expects the password-reset verification code that Google sends out and once that is received the victim passes it on to the attacker. The attacker then reset the password and once they have what they want or have set up forwarding, can inform the victim—again posing as Google—of their new temporary password, leaving the victim without any suspicion that he has been compromised.

Check out this video to see these steps in action.

The way to mitigate this type of attack is to be mindful of suspicious looking SMS messages asking about verification codes, especially if you did not request one. If you are skeptical about a message it is advisable to check with your email provider to confirm if the message is legitimate. Remember, legitimate messages from password recovery services will give you the verification code and will not ask you to send it back.

To get the full report, go here.

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