Health & Safety

May 24, 2012

Phishing scam targets military cardholders

By 1st Lt. Ken Lustig

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — A scam affecting military personnel led the Nellis finance office to issue a warning of a virus threat.

Air Force government travel card contractor Citi reported to the Air Force that a bogus email designed to resemble Citi’s own correspondence was being circulated in a phishing scam.

Phishing is a form of social engineering, a tactic used by cybercriminals to solicit personal information under false pretenses in order to steal money.

This particular scam e-mail appears to be an official e-credit card statement with an outstanding balance, and instructs users to click on a link to view their online statement. The “spoofed” links in the message, camouflaged to look like links to Citi’s actual website, instead take users to a web page that installs a virus.

Rachel Whitfield, 99th Communications Squadron alternate information assurance manager, said attacks, like the one that looks like a message from Citi, are constantly evolving, using new approaches to trick users into visiting malicious sites to give up their personal information.

“Identity theft is still big and it’s still ongoing,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anything worse than losing your identity.”

To prevent attacks, users should be cautious about accepting e-mails, and don’t open emails that come from an unknown sender.

“If you don’t know who it is, delete,” she said.

Microsoft Outlook users also should turn off their reading pane to prevent the inadvertent activation of malicious logic or any kind of virus.

“What happens is, when you’re in the reading pane the e-mail is already opened when you click on the subject line,” Whitfield said.

If unsure, installation users should reach out to their unit information assurance officer.

Whitfield said that the bottom line is phishing scams and other evolving threats appear on a steady basis.

“They’re still constantly out there and everybody needs to be aware,” she said.

For more information, contact your unit information assurance officer or the installation information assurance office at (702) 652-7039/8773.

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