A recent story on slashdot brought this to my attention and we have archived it in the social engineer archives under the new and improved spear phishing attacks section.

What struck me as interesting about this story that made me rush over here to type this up at the worst time to release a blog post on earth was the way that these attacks are being “made new”.

Most intelligent IT Admins won’t click on the link to “See Britney Naked” or “Adjust your Bank of America Account” because they know it is phishing.

But in comes the “new and improved shiny phishing”. These social engineers have done their homework. They have the names of IT Admins, they have the names and details of current projects and other information that makes the emails very believable. But it doesn’t stop there, this is the part that will make you stand up and pay attention. They are not asking for a link to be clicked or a file to be run or a website to be visited, they are merely asking for the admin to change some configurations to their servers. These changes would allow their mail servers to be used for spamming, or open up some other vulnerability in their servers.

Take a look at one such email:

Dear Valued Customer,

We are pleased to announce the go-live date for a new Data Center, scheduled to go live on April 19, 2010.
Please update your firewall rules to allow SMTP traffic on port 25 from the following IP address ranges:xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx/xx (xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx – xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx)xx.xxx.xxx.xx/xx (xx.xxx.xxx.xx – xx.xxx.xxx.xxx)

If you have settings on your e-mail server which control the IPs which are allowed to connect for e-mail relay please confirm that those settings are updated as well.

We will be able to test and verify connections one week prior to April 19, 2010. Additionally, we will be proactively running connection tests prior to the launch on behalf of all customers, and contacting you directly if we are unable to connect to any of your domains from ALL specified IP addresses for that domain.

Prior to the launch of the new IP addresses, we recommend that you set up and configure the Deferral Notification alerting feature for your domains using the Deferral Notification option on the Domain properties page in the Admin Center. The Deferral Notification alert feature sends a message to you when a customized threshold has been met or exceeded for deferred e-mail in your domain. After the new IP addresses are launched, this feature will help to ensure that e-mail sent to your domains is not deferred because of unsuccessful connection attempts to your network, and that you alerted in the event that e-mail is being deferred beyond your acceptable limits. For more information on how to set up the Deferral Notification alert feature, see the Admin Center Guide in the Resource Center.

Please refer to the Configuration subtab of the Administration Center for a complete list of IPs which should be allowed to connect to your environment at any time.

An unsuspecting admin would and they ARE falling for this, wreaking havoc on networks all over.

Until next time….