Cybercriminals Impersonate These Well-Known Companies in Phishing Emails

Suspicious emails coming through to your mailbox? Does the email claim to be from Microsoft and need your login information to fix an unfounded issue? Cybercriminals increasingly send victims emails such as these, impersonating large-scale companies to appear legitimate, and it’s not only Microsoft impersonations. From Facebook to Amazon, to Paypal and Netflix, it’s a good idea to double check where those emails are actually coming from.

Cybersecurity company Vade Secure conducted an analysis of companies that were most impersonated and found that Microsoft was one of the most used brands in phishing schemes, with an increase of 15.5% since the previous year. Due to the popularity in Outlook mail and Office365, Microsoft is a widely popular impersonation target. With businesses and corporations relying on Office365 for keeping restricted and sensitive files, hackers look for any means necessary to get their hands on such valuable information. Access to Office365 accounts can also open more doors for targeting other users to gain access to more accounts. 

Illegitimate emails claiming to be from Microsoft ask users to log in via a link provided by the hacker and open up a spoof page that mirrors the actual website, prompting users to input their login credentials and submitting it to the cybercriminal.

Paypal comes out as the second most common company to be used in phishing schemes, as the brand is easily recognizable by many. While Paypal still remains a popular choice in targeting victims with fake emails, malicious URL targeting has been declining.

The third most popular company to be used in a phishing attack is Facebook, as Vade Secure tracked a 176% increase in fake URL use to target users’ social media accounts. The social network acts as a perfect opportunity for hackers to send phishing messages to victims’ friends. Facebook access can particularly be harmful if victims have third party applications connected, to which cybercriminals can also access. 

The report further lists other brands like Netflix, Bank of America, and Apple that are also used in these emails. Amazon is now the eighth most popular brand for phishing use by hackers, and its use has grown over 400% in just a year, this likely due to the popularity in Amazon Prime Day and the extensive number of shoppers on the site. 

Phishing attacks are continuously utilized by hackers due to the cheap and easy way it reaches a mass of users. If you receive any such suspicious emails in your inbox, mark it as spam immediately. If you are ever unsure about your account, log in through the company’s official site instead of clicking on malicious email links.

Microsoft Reveals Hackers Accessed Emails from Users

Microsoft Outlook Logo
Image Source: Microsoft Outlook logo

Recently Microsoft had announced that a security breach had taken place on its site, in which hackers were able to access user accounts, essentially allowing cybercriminals to view email messages, email addresses, and folder names.

According to Microsoft, a support agent’s web mail service was compromised, allowing hackers to access user accounts from January 1st to March 28th, 2019. Once the issue was discovered, the support account was taken down.

Vice’s Motherboard claims that the hackers had access to users’ accounts for six months, to which Microsoft had refuted and stated that the breach occurred within the three month period as mentioned in their notification message to its users. The compromise allowed hackers to even access iCloud accounts to remove the Activation Lock feature on stolen iPhones – a feature that would prevent thieves from factory resetting the devices to sell for profit.

Microsoft had notified those consumers – around six percent – who had their email contents potentially breached by the hackers. The total number of consumers affected by this breach has not been revealed by Microsoft.

Beware: TrickBot Malware Is on the Rise for Tax Day

Tax Day is coming up on April 15th, and cyber criminals are out to seek profit at many victims’ expense. A tax theme malware called TrickBot is being sent to inboxes, the hackers impersonating payroll providers like Paychex and ADP and sending malware infected Excel documents to their recipients.

TrickBot works by exploiting network vulnerabilities to essentially enter and steal sensitive information such as passwords and bank account details in order to file fraudulent Tax forms to receive returns. Scams caused by TrickBot have cost the IRS over a million in losses back in 2016.

Researchers from IBM X-Force noted how cyber criminals are using domains that look highly similar to actual payroll providers in order to deceive recipients into thinking the email is from a legitimate source.

IBM global executive security advisor Limor Kessem stated how “this campaign [is] highly targeted in its efforts to infiltrate US organizations,” and the threat from TrickBot doesn’t look like it’ll cease. Kessem continues on by explaining that “TrickBot [is] one of the most prominent organized crime gangs in the bank fraud arena, [so] we…expect to see it maintain its position on the global malware chart, unless it is interrupted by law enforcement in 2019.”

Before clicking on any email link, it is highly advised to double check the legitimacy of the email by looking closely at the sender information. Hovering over an email link also allows you to check on where the URL leads before you actually click on it; just check the small window that pops up above the link to make sure the site is safe.

Gmail Lets You Undo Your Mistakes

If you’ve ever experienced the gut wrenching sensation after accidentally sending an email to the wrong person, you might find solace in Gmail’s newest feature: The Undo Send. Sending an angry email to your boss on accident is a fear of many, but before you delete their contact info off your new resume, just go through the few simple steps to eliminate the chance completely. You can choose between 4 time settings (5, 10, 20, 30 seconds) which allows you that grace period by holding on to the email before it actually sends.

Since this is now an official part of Gmail, you can go through these steps to get it working:

  • Log in to your Gmail account on your computer.
  • Click the settings icon in the corner of the screen.
  • From the Settings menu, choose the option for Settings. Make sure the General tab is selected.
  • Look for the setting that says Undo Send.
  • Click the check box to Enable Undo Send.
  • You can choose between 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds in the drop-box menu. This is how many seconds you have after clicking ‘send’ until it sends your email.
  • Click the ‘Save Changes’ button at the bottom of the screen.
  • If you want to test this feature out, compose a message and send it.
  • You’ll then see a message that says: “Your message has been sent. Undo. View Message.”
  • To prevent the message from being sent, click the Undo link.
  • If you choose to make any changes and resend it, it will go to your sent messages. Otherwise, you can save as a draft or just delete it completely.

Thanks, Gmail, for giving us a second chance. Here’s hoping that this feature is introduced to texting on iPhones and Androids in the near future…

Email Security

Do you know the difference between SPAM, phishing, spoofing, and Trojans? They are all tools and tactics used to transmit viruses or steal information via email. They are also more common than you might think.

Email Threats

How important is email security to you?

Billions of emails are sent every day, and many of these emails are SPAM or even malware. While SPAM filters help eliminate most unwanted messages, no filter is perfect.  To be fully prepared you should be aware of the possible email security threats that you could face. Reacting to unwanted emails properly is necessary to get rid of future unwanted SPAM, and to protect your network and information.

The best thing to do when you receive a suspicious email is to delete it. Simply opening one can compromise your security. Refer to our Email Security Guide to learn how you can protect your inbox.

Intel Breaks Down the Internet Minute

The internet is a mysterious place. Have you ever wonder what happens on the internet in just 60 seconds? Intel released a graphic with stats on everything from the total GB of global IP data transferred to the number of Facebook logins that happen every minute. Check it out by clicking the photo below:

image credit: Intel

The Break Down of the Internet Minute:

  • 639,800 GB of global IP data transferred
  • 204 million emails sent
  • 2+ million Google search queries
  • 320 new Twitter accounts and 100,000 new tweets
  • 277,000 Facebook logins and 6 million page views
  • $83,000 in Amazon sales
  • 61,141 hours of music played on Pandora
  • 47,00 app downloads
  • 1,300 new mobile users
  • 100+ new LinkedIn accounts
  • 135 new Botnet infections
  • 20 new victims of identity theft
  • 6 new Wikipedia articles published