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13 Oct 2018

NBlog Oct 13/2 - CERT NZ goes phishing

CERT NZ (apparently) has once again circulated an email warning about phishing, containing a distinctly phishy link to "READ MORE INFORMATION". The hyperlink leads from there to certnz.cmail20.com with a tracker-type URL tail.

Unlike most of the intended audience, I guess, I'm cyber-smart enough to check out the whois record: cmail20.com domain is registered to Campaign Monitor Pty Ltd of New South Wales - presumably a legitimate mass emailer/marketing company whose services are being used by CERT NZ to circulate the warnings - but that's not the point: the fact is that the embedded link target is patently not CERT NZ's own domain.

What's more, the body of the email is a rather vaguely-worded warning, not entirely dissimilar to many a classic phisher. "Nasty stuff is going to happen unless you do something" just about sums it up. It isn't even addressed to me by name, despite me being required to supply my name and email address when I signed up for CERT NZ's "updates". They know who I am.

I've notified CERT NZ about this kind of thing privately before, to no avail, so this time around I'm going public, here on the blog.

CERT NZ, you are perpetuating the problem. Wake up guys! It's simply not good enough. I expect more of you. Your sponsors, partners and taxpayers expect more of you. NZ expects more of you.

Is it really that difficult to either drop the marketing tracking, or at least to route clickers via cert.govt.nz first, with a redirect from there to the tracker?

Is there nobody in CERT NZ with sufficient clue to appreciate and respond to such an obvious concern? 

Am I wasting these bytes? Hello, CERT NZ! Anyone home?

Ironically, CERT NZ has allegedly been promoting the past five days as "Cyber Smart Week 2018", which as far as I can make out appears to consist of a single web page on CERT NZ's website expanding a little on these four simple tips:
  1. Use unique passwords
  2. Turn on 2FA
  3. Update your apps
  4. Check your privacy

Admirably brief ... but there's nothing explicit about phishing or business email compromise, nor social engineering, scams and frauds. No obvious links to further information. 

Ironically, again, the Cyber Smart page ends: 
"Report any cyber security issue you experience to CERT NZ. We’ll help you identify it and let you know what the next steps are to resolve it. We’ll also use the information to create advice and guidance for others who might be experiencing the same issue."
Been there, done that, got precisely nowhere. I despair.

Next time I receive a phishing-like email from CERT NZ, I'll take it up with the news media. Maybe they care as much as me.

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