The phishers are getting techincal...

This morning I got a phishing letter. Since it was not from my bank, I almost deleted it without looking, and then this caught my eye:

You are receiving this message, due to you protection, Our Online Technical Security Service Foreign IP Spy recently detected that your online account was recently logged on from am without am International Access Code (I.A.C) and from an unregistered computer, which was not verified by the Our Online Service Department.

Now, besides the bad English, which I will not take time to correct, the IP address jumped out at me and caught my attention and I had two immediate thoughts.

First, my thought was, as a normal Joe User, where is and what does it mean I was logged in from there. That does not look like a street address. As an end user, I do not care what an IP address is (frankly, I do not care that I have one, much less know what it is), so does putting it in a phishing scheme make the email seem more legitimate? I would not think so, but then I have not bothered to study the science too closely.

But what intrigued me more, especially as a network engineer was that the 88 supernet, where ever it might be allocated, cannot possibly be exposing itself to the Internet, can it? And certainly not down to the host level? I cannot think of any major (or minor) corporation or ISP that does not do some form of address translation anymore, so how would I, as an end user, even know I was “logged on” from that IP address even if I was? My IP address is 10.x.x.x or 192.x.x.x or some other non-routable address. I would have no clue what IP address I am ultimately presenting to the outside world, so even if the letter was “legitimate,” giving me the IP address is pointless. Better to say I had logged on from a bistro in France.

But of course, that would defeat the purpose, and the purpose here is to scam you into clicking that little blue hyperlink and typing in your user name and password for the bad guys to get. The Internet never was the domain of fools but it has gotten more dangerous and less safe every day. Caveat emptor and lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate (that’s Dante…)


David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


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Logged on from where?

Derek's picture

Surely you missed the real point. Even an end user _may_ know what his external IP address is. If not down to the host level, at least partially. For instance, when I'm working for one large client, I know my external IP is going to begin with 142.

And of course, the phishers _want_ you to think "but I couldn't possibly have been logged on _there_". If you really thought you might have been logged on from, you would just say to yourself "good work Bank, it's nice that you're watching out". Probably this IP is used deliberately _because_ they aren't exposing addresses down to the host level.

University of California

Kenneth Finnegan's picture

At UC Davis there is zero NAT. I get a public routeable address for every single device I can plug into the RJ-45 port in my dorm, or anywhere else on campus + Wifi. (It meant I got a lot more traffic targeting the usual service ports than I was used to.)

The fact that it mentions the IP address at all doesn't seem that unusual to me either. Plenty of web services point out that last time you logged in, it was x hours ago on x.x.x.x IP address. The IP addresses are recorded server side anyways, so it doesn't matter what in-house routing system the ISP uses, it'll always be the public address.

I have no clue what IP address I am presenting to the world

Silver Knight's picture

Greetings. I just thought I'd interject an easy way to determine this...

There are a variety of other similar services, but this is the one I have found easiest to remember, and therefore is the one I use most often for determining the "outside" IP address of a network.


You can, yes

David Lane's picture

Oh, I know there are a number of ways to determine what your address IS, but frankly why would you want to? With only a couple of reasons, there is no need to know what your external IP address is. I only know what my machine's internal address is now because I set up the DHCP that assigns it, but I couldn't begin to tell you what the IP address are for my coworkers, nor do I care.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

Reasons to know your external IP address

Silver Knight's picture

As you stated, there are really only a couple reasons one might WANT to know their external address (besides morbid curiosity, of course) and those reasons pretty much boil down to running a server (service) of some sort, or to connect two (or more) networks together via a VPN.

Of course, far easier than an IP address is to simply use one of the many available dynamic DNS services (DynDNS for one example) to map your IP address to a domain name, so I guess even that isn't really all that much of a reason... ;)

Still, when one DOES have a need for this sort of information, it's nice that there's a convenient way to find it with next to no effort... One example of such a need might be when one is hosting a game of some sort for multiplayer activity (Quake, StarCraft, etc.), but then it's probably still easier to give someone a domain name ( than an IP address (123.45.678.90).


Ronald Wielink's picture

"I cannot think of any major (or minor) corporation or ISP that does not do some form of address translation anymore,".
Actually I can. In The Netherlands it is (still) fairly common to have a routable ip address assigned to your consumer xDSL internet access at home.

I stand corrected

David Lane's picture

Really? Well, that is a new one on me. Thanks for that.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

Technical Scammers

owenjh's picture

Well, I do believe that people are silly enough to click on anything. Some people do know what an "IP address" is from hearing people, IT depts and media sling the term around. Thinking that they have not logged in from another country they may fall for it.

I think that they could have made a more creative e-mail saying about how they need to log in and report the issue.

- Owen (The Linux Blog)