Oxford Temporarily Blocks Google Docs to Thwart Phishing Attacks

The university is concerned about malicious emails targeting user credentials

By on February 19th, 2013 15:13 GMT

In response to the large number of spam emails containing links to Google Docs-powered phishing sites, Oxford University has decided to instate a temporary block on the service. The restriction only lasted for around two and a half hours because the impact on legitimate activities was too great.

The university’s representatives argue that while Google Docs is a perfectly legitimate service, it can be used for many nefarious purposes.

“Almost all the recent attacks have used Google Docs URLs, and in some cases the phishing emails have been sent from an already-compromised University account to large numbers of other Oxford users. Seeing multiple such incidents the other afternoon tipped things over the edge,” Oxford’s Robin Stevens explained.

Oxford is not concerned with phishing attempts that target bank accounts, but campaigns designed to harvest credentials from university systems.

They hope that the temporary blockade will at least attract the attention of users upon the threats.

In the meantime, Oxford is looking for more effective ways to combat phishing attacks, and it plans on pressuring Google to become more proactive regarding the abuse of its services.
Google Docs-powered phishing page (click to see full)
   Google Docs-powered phishing page (click to see full)
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