Phishers aim scam at Apple's iTunes

Phishers target Apple for the first time with a sophisticated identity theft attack that tells users they must correct a problem with their iTunes account

Phishers have targeted users of Apple's iTunes music store with sophisticated identity theft attacks for the first time, a security company said Tuesday.

People began receiving spammed messages Monday telling them that they must correct a problem with their iTunes account, said Andrew Lochart, an executive with e-mail security vendor Proofpoint.

A link in the spam leads to a site posing as an iTunes billing update page; that phony page asks for information including credit card number and security code, Social Security number, and mother's maiden name.

The theft attempt is a new twist on the usual phishing attack, said Lochart. "We've gotten used to seeing the usual companies and brands attacked," he said, "like PayPal, eBay, and Citibank. But we've never seen Apple as the target."

In a way, said Lochart, the phishing campaign is almost a compliment. "It's probably indicative that the bad guys see Apple's online presence as large enough to be a target. It's part and parcel of the success that Apple has enjoyed lately."

Lochart also speculated that the identity thieves aimed the new attack at iTunes users because of the service's perceived demographics. "I wonder if the bad guys are thinking that [iTunes users] are younger than those for some of the other phished sites, like banks and eBay," said Lochart. "The way that teenagers and young adults use the Internet, they show a certain level of trust or openness when they post their name and age and school on MySpace."

On one hand, Lochart added, young people who grew up with the Internet are considered technologically savvier than their elders. "But then you see the way they use something like MySpace in a way that's considered risky behavior."

Although the phoniness of the link to the bogus iTunes account page might be overlooked in the spam e-mail, the URL is clearly not part of the official iTunes domain. "They've actually done a pretty poor job," Lochart, said of the phishers.

Computerworld is an InfoWorld affiliate.

This story, "Phishers aim scam at Apple's iTunes" was originally published by Computerworld.

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