A newly discovered phish ironically impersonates a cybersecurity firm to sneak past Microsoft defenses and steal login credentials. Talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Phish Masquerading as Cybersecurity Company
Cybercrooks are stepping up their game by impersonating security firm Proofpoint and harvesting Microsoft Office 365 and Google email users’ credentials.
Armorblox researchers spotted this malicious fakery targeting nearly a thousand employees within a global communications company. The organization’s name remains undisclosed.
“The email claimed to contain a secure file sent via Proofpoint as a link,” the team explained Thursday blog post. “Clicking the link took victims to a splash page that spoofed Proofpoint branding and contained login links for different email providers. The attack included dedicated login page spoofs for Microsoft and Google.”
Using Mortgage Payments as Bait
The email lure was a file claiming to be linked to mortgage payments. The subject line, “Re: Payoff Request,” is designed to trick users into thinking it was part of ongoing correspondence, appearing more legitimate and trustworthy, while also making the requested action seem urgent.
“Adding ‘Re’ to the email title is a tactic we have observed scammers using before – this signifies an ongoing conversation and might make victims click the email faster,” according to the report.
If targets clicked on the “secure” URL embedded in the message, they were redirected to a spoofed Proofpoint login page.
“Clicking on the Google and Office 365 buttons led to dedicated spoofed login flows for Google and Microsoft respectively,” researchers wrote. “Both flows asked for the victim’s email address and password.”
Blending in With The Routine
The sneaky phish leverages workflows already present in many users’ daily activities (for example, getting email notifications when someone shares files with them via the cloud). Researchers explained how attackers were betting on recipients not questioning the fake messages too much.
“When we see emails we’ve already seen before, our brains tend to employ System 1 thinking and take quick action,” according to the analysis.
The emails were sent from a legitimate but hijacked email account belonging to a fire department in France. This helped the messages circumvent security filters and not get flagged as spam.
The credential-stealing pages were hosted on the “greenleafproperties[.]co[.]uk” parent domain.
“The domain’s WhoIs record shows it was last updated in April 2021,” researchers wrote. “The URL currently redirects to ‘cvgproperties[.]co[.]uk.’ The barebones website with questionable marketing [increases] the possibility that this is a dummy site.”
Tips On Dodging The Hook
Such attacks use cunning social engineering techniques, brand spoofing, and compromise legitimate domains to send out malicious emails to bypass email filters and the untrained eye of the average user. Regarding phishing prevention, Armorblox offered the following advice:
- Beware social engineering – examine every email thoroughly: inspect the sender’s name, email address, language, and any inconsistencies within the message.
- Enable MFA – use MFA (multi-factor authentication) wherever possible, for both work and personal accounts. Also, never recycle passwords.
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