Phishing is when someone sends an email claiming to be an entity they are not, and uses this deception to get information. They can be after social security numbers, bank information, passwords, or other sensitive information. Emails often take the following form:
From: help@company_or_organization.com To: email@example.com Subject: Account Alert We need to verify your account details. Please reply to this message and enter your information the following spaces. If you do not reply, you may lose access to your account. username: _______ password: _______
If you see an email like this, do NOT reply to it.
Riseup accounts are a frequent target. Riseup emails will never ask for your password! If you get an email claiming to be from Riseup, and it asks for your password in the email, it is not from Riseup.
If you get an email that asks you to click on a link and give your account information, it is best to manually type the address. Do not rely on the link, because the domain might be ríseup.net and not riseup.net (not the subtle difference with the accent over the i).
Here are some example emails frequently sent to riseup users from phishers attempting to hijack the user’s account.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: UPGRADE YOUR RISEUP EMAIL ACCOUNT! From: RISEUP UPGRADE <email@example.com> Dear Riseup Subscriber, Your Riseup e-mail account may be frozen as a result of unusual activity. We have noticed that your email account needs to be verified, as we are upgrading our webmail database. Click Here to Verify Your E-mail Account Please do this so that your email account can be upgraded and protected from being closed. Your immediate response is highly needed. We appreciate your time and assistance! Sincerely © 2011 Riseup Email Support.
From: WebAdmin Security <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Account Alert® To: undisclosed-recipients:; Dear valued customer(R): Due to concerns, for the safety and integrity of the Riseup.Net Security we have issued this warning message We have noticed that your Riseup.Net account needs to be verify, after we have upgraded our SSL database. To verify your Riseup.Net account and access your account in future, please click on the verification link below to log into account update and complete the required informations: http//mail.riseup.net/SSL [<< this actually linked to another site that is not riseup but is made to look like riseup] This e-mail was sent to all of our customers. Recently, we have noticed that many customers' were receiving a scam letter asking them to send their username and password via email. Note that Riseup.Net will never ask for your ID and password via email. Just click on the above link, continue by filling the required informations correctly to verify and your Riseup.Net account informations on our database will be automatically updated. Note: Failure to Verify email account might lead to account deactivation. Thanks for your co-operations. Sincerely, WEBMAIL Riseup.Net Security Team(R) Email ticket: R0929NT4
This is an especially clever phishing attack. It knows that some people know Riseup will never ask them for their password in an email, so it links to a webpage that asks them for their password. The link looks like a link to riseup page, but when you click on it it actually takes you somewhere else. The webpage is cleverly designed to look almost exactly like the riseup page, in hopes that people will not notice the difference and enter their password.
To be safe, you should never click on links in emails that ask you to enter password information. Always type ‘user.riseup.net’ into your browser’s address bar manually.
This kind of spoofing uses the similarity of letters among different character sets. Homographs are similarly looking characters, e.g. between Latin and Cyrillic charsets. The international domain name (IDN) system has no restrictions in mixing letters of different charsets. Hence users are not able to differenciate between letters that are displayed in the same way.
The safest way for users is to never copy URLs from unsafe sources and always type URLs to the address bar directly (similarly to never copying code from websites to a terminal directly, but a text editor first for code auditing).
Another protection method is to deactivate IDNA in the browser. Known since 2005 this issue has been reported to Mozilla in 2013 with the consequence of restricting domain names to specific characters and using Punycode for domain names containing other characters. In firefox IDN whitelist settings can be changed browsing to
about:config → network.IDN.
More information on this topic is available on Wikipedia.