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New Phishing Attack - Hijacking Your Open Browser Tabs

Updated on May 26, 2014

Bad Phisherman!

Always Check the URL!
Always Check the URL! | Source

Get in the habit of checking your URLs

(c) 2012 by Tom King

Scambusters latest edition has an enlightening article about a new way evildoers have of harvesting your passwords and stealing your money. If like most people you use the same password or two or three regular passwords for all your secure sites, you don’t want to give them away to nasty people who may jump on your accounts and liberate your money from them.

The attack is called tab-nabbing, tab phishing, tab hijacking or tab-jacking and works like this. You go onto a bogus site whether by accident or because they dangled a tasty lure that you bit. You may actually figure out that you've been had and get out quickly as you should and without apparent damage. You breathe a sigh of relief and congratulate yourself on how smart you are. In the meantime a program on the nasty website has surreptitiously hijacked one of your open tabs.

Most of us operate with several tabs open at once and we tend to lose track of them while we surf around. The scam here is that when you return to one of your previously opened tabs, it now looks like you’ve been automatically logged out of Gmail or Google, Paypal or Amazon - some legitimate site you might have opened and forgotten you did. The page looks just like a legit login page asking for your username and password. If you don't remember opening a tab for that page or didn't sign yourself out don't give them your password. Do this instead:


If the URL is something other than a legit Gmail, Google or Amazon address, shut the tab down and do not give them your password. Even if the name Gmail, Google, Paypal or Amazon appears in the URL, if the first part doesn’t start with https:// and the legit site name isn’t the next thing in the URL, close the tab.

Even if you just feel like something’s odd or you don’t remember opening that tab, shut it down. Paypal, Google, Gmail or Amazon will NOT be offended if you close the tab and you can always reopen the website yourself so you know it's the real one.

Here’s a helpful video by Aza Raskin describing the attack and how to avoid it.
Make it a habit when opening tabs to check the URL before moving forward. Phishing is a benign sounding name for a sport practiced by some very nasty people. Fishermen are usually quiet, laconic people that are content to sit out in a boat and annoy scaly marine life. Phishermen, on the other hand are nasty evil people who want to steal your money. They need only make one or two scores per day to make a considerably better living than you probably do.

So there’s one more Internet surfing habit you now need to develop: Always check the URL when you reopen a tab. Remember that and never answer emails from the relatives of dead Nigerian government ministers and you'll be alright. For that matter, avoid dead government ministers, corporate officers and wealthy persons who hail from any exotic sounding foreign place altogether. They are not your friends, people.

Your real friend,

Tom King


  1. Scambusters: What is Tab-Nabbing
  2. Aza Raskin: A New Type of Phishing Attack


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