Phishing Scams and Malware Campaigns

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ARCLAN has recently observed an increase in targeted email malware campaigns (phishing scams).  The different methods used to entice users into opening attachments or clicking on embedded links is becoming more sophisticated and in some cases disturbing (death threats).

Recently observed phishing scams and malware campaigns addressed to people include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Death threats

  2. Threats of arrest by the FBI

  3. Airline tickets

  4. Information that refers to a tax refund, filing a refund and fake e-file websites

Some of the emails received have been disturbing in nature (death threats). The intent of all the campaigns is the same: to have the end user open an attachment or click on a link so the attacker can install malware on the target system. Usually the result in a successful attack is stolen financial information.

US-CERT recommends the following measures:

  1. Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.

  2. Maintain up-to-date antivirus software.

  3. Be wary of unsolicited attachments, even from people you know. Just because an email message looks like it came from a familiar source doesn’t mean it came from that source. Malicious actors often “spoof” the return address, making it look like the message came from someone else. If you can, check with the person who supposedly sent the message to make sure it’s legitimate before opening any attachments. This also includes email messages that appear to be from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or software vendor claiming to include patches or anti-virus software. ISPs and software vendors do not send patches or software in email.

  4. Keep software up to date. Install software patches so that attackers can’t take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available you should enable it.

  5. Trust your instincts. If an email or email attachment seems suspicious don’t open it even if your anti-virus software indicates that the message is virus free. Attackers are constantly releasing new viruses. If the virus is new, your anti-virus software may not have a signature for it yet. Don’t let your curiosity put your computer at risk.

  6. Turn off the option to automatically download attachments. To simplify the process of reading email, many email programs offer the feature to automatically download attachments. Check your settings to see if your software offers the option, and make sure to disable it.


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