World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is the fourth expansion for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft. It was first unveiled to the public last October 2011 during the BlizzCon 2011 conference in Anaheim, California.
TrendLabs researchers started seeing increased phishing activity inside World of Warcraft after Blizzard started the closed beta testing for Mists of Pandaria last March 2012.
In these new rounds of phishing attempts, scammers are trying to abuse the WoW’s in-game mail system. In this phishing attempt, the malicious URLs are sent via in-game mail and are received by players in their in-game mailboxes.
In this phishing try, the scammer entices would-be victims to join the Mist of Pandaria beta testing and win an exclusive in-game item, the Dragon Turtle Mount, by visiting and registering in their website. The Dragon Turtle Mount was previously announced by Blizzard as the racial mount for the Pandarens, the new additional playable character race available in the Mist of Pandaria expansion.
The phishing URL in the in-game email goes to a phishing website that closely resembles the actual Battle.net website. The phishing URL tried to add some credibility by adding the string Mist of Pandaria abbreviation (MOP) to the domain name.
If unsuspecting users input their Battle.net credentials it will definitely result to Battle.net account theft. Battle.net is the central account management for all Blizzard games like World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and Diablo III.
In contrast to what we discussed in our previous World of Warcraft post, we observed that recent scamming attempts seem to be targeted at low level characters and not high level or level-capped (Level 85) ones. This may be part of the scam detection avoidance strategy of the bad guys, as high level characters may have more awareness to this security issue as they have spent more time in the game.
We analyzed the malicious domain further and found some great discovery: The same server also hosts other phishing sites targeting World of Warcraft players:
The newly discovered malicious websites are using Mist of Pandaria, World of Warcraft, and their corresponding abbreviations in their URLs.
Trend Micro users need not worry about these threats, as they are protected from these World of Warcraft phishing attacks via the Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™, which blocks access to the phishing websites.
It is interesting to note that some of the phishing websites were registered just days after Blizzard announced that Mist of Pandaria will be the next World of Warcraft expansion. This clearly shows that the bad guys are up to date and are always in the lookout for events and opportunities to expand their nefarious schemes.
Blizzard on their part have stepped up their security measures. They have published a dedicated security page to help users understand their security commitment; raise awareness on different types of account thefts, highlight a gamer’s security checklist, and a step by step guide on what to do when users suspect that their account is being compromised.
Blizzard also promoted their authenticator (available as an app for iOS and Android devices, and as a keychain fob) by giving away an exclusive World of Warcraft Corehound pet to users availing the authentication services.
We also advice our readers, casual and hardcore gamers alike to view our latest Security and Gaming e-Guide to get helpful tips to help secure their online game experience.
Thanks to Paul Pajares for additional technical details.