Phishing Lures Employees With Fake ‘Back To Work’ Internal Memos

Scammers are trying to steal email credentials from employees by impersonating their organization’s human resources (HR) department in phishing emails camouflaged as internal ‘back to work’ company memos.

These phishing messages have managed to land in thousands of targeted individuals’ mailboxes after bypassing G Suite email defenses according to stats provided by researchers at email security company Abnormal Security who spotted this phishing campaign.

There is a high probability that some of the targets will fall for the scammers’ tricks given that during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic most companies have regularly emailed their employees with updates regarding remote working policy changes.

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Booby-trapped HR compliance forms

Phishing emails delivered through this campaign spoof the victims’ company mail service and are designed to look like automated internal company memos with attached voicemails.

This tactic is used to convince the target that the messages originate from within their own company which would increase the likelihood that they would share sensitive information when asked in later stages of the attack.

The emails come with custom HTML attachments with each employee’s name, a technique designed to convince the recipients that the email is safe so that they open the attachment without thinking twice.

Phishing email
Phishing email (Abnormal Security)

Once the attachments are opened, the targets are sent to a Sharepoint document with details about remote working policy changes and an acknowledgment link at the bottom.

Clicking that link will redirect them to a phishing landing page camouflaged as an HR compliance notification requiring the targets to enter their company email address and password. 

An added tactic used to make sure that the victims will provide their email credentials is the addition of an alert under the phishing form telling them to never give out their passwords to people they don’t trust.

“If the recipients fall victim to this attack, the login credentials for their email account will be compromised, and the attackers will gain access to sensitive corporate and personal information,” Abnormal Security explained.

Back to work phishing

“This attack utilizes growing concerns regarding company safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the researchers added.

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“This email sets a short deadline for when employees must acknowledge that they have received this message and complete the form.”

In a recent phishing campaign spotted by the same researchers earlier this month, scammers were observed impersonating the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) trying to trick victims into paying fabricated outstanding amounts related to missed or late payments.

The targets were also threatened with Credit Bureau reports and legal action to further increase the change that they will give in and pay the fraudsters.

There’s also a massive Zoom phishing campaign currently targeting Thanksgiving meetings that allowed the attackers to already steal thousands of users’ credentials.

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