Symantec’s just released Internet Security Threat Report shows that cybercriminals have been busier than ever. And social engineered attacks are one vector that continue to see growth due to the likelihood of success. Although the attacks come in different forms, one approach fools unsuspecting users to click a link which takes them to a “look-a-like” website. That imitation site is typically a highly-phished domain, (i.e. Apple ID or a popular bank or credit card site). But now, to prove their legitimacy, phishers obtain Domain Validated (DV) SSL certificates because they know that consumers have been trained to look for the padlock or “https” in the browser URL window. The appearance of this lock further legitimizes the attack and tricks consumers into disclosing their credentials or banking/credit card details.
There are three types of SSL certificates, each requiring a different level of authentication: DV, OV and EV. Understanding the differences among each SSL certificate type is important to help prevent falling victim to scammers. For example, DV certificates are quick and easy to procure and don’t require any type of information indicating the person trying to get the DV certificate actually represents a legitimate business. Fraudsters often use DV certificates to lure consumers to phishing websites that look authentic but are designed to steal sensitive information. For this reason, doing any type of ecommerce transaction on a DV-only site poses risk. While there are appropriate use cases for DV certificates, it’s important to know how cybercriminals are taking advantage of DV certificates to conduct phishing scams and how to protect against these types of cybercriminal attacks.
Online shopping isn’t going away. Until the industry requires an OV or EV certificate for e-commerce sites or an easier way to identify the types of certificates, consumers will have to bear some of the burden of combatting cyber risks. Knowing the risks ahead of time, however, is half the battle.