View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Technology
  2. Cybersecurity
September 5, 2014

NSA backed encryption standard being used in phishing attacks

JavaScript implementation of US government cryptography is protecting scammers.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Phishers are making use of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to conceal the malicious nature of their websites, according to security firm Symantec.

Victims are exposed to dynamically written phishing content said to be generated almost instantly through a JavaScript AES implementation, frustrating analysis of phishing sites.

Nick Johnston of Symantec said: "This technique may be a first, albeit basic, attempt at using AES to obfuscate phishing sites.

"There is no attempt made to hide the key or otherwise conceal what is going on. However, we expect that as phishing detection matures further and improves in effectiveness, attacks like this will become more sophisticated."

The AES was adopted by the US government in 2002, and is used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to protect classified information in systems approved by the snooping group.

Phishers have long been trying to hide their phishing attempts through various forms of encryption, including other JavaScript tools and data uniform resource identifiers, similar to a URL but without address information.

They have also made use of escape characters, which are used as part of URLs to avoid the misinterpretation of certain characters, for example by substituting a space for "%20".

Content from our partners
Scan and deliver
GenAI cybersecurity: "A super-human analyst, with a brain the size of a planet."
Cloud, AI, and cyber security – highlights from DTX Manchester

Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.