According to a recent blog post by Microsoft, cybercriminals have been "taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic in an attempt to defraud customers in 62 countries around the world. Our civil case has resulted in a court order allowing Microsoft to seize control of key domains in the criminals’ infrastructure so that it can no longer be used to execute cyberattacks."
Because this issue directly affects our librarians, we thought it important to relay the following information regarding these phishing attacks. Read more below for a highlight that has been pulled from the article...
"These cybercriminals designed the phishing emails to look like they originated from an employer or other trusted source and frequently targeted business leaders across a variety of industries, attempting to compromise accounts, steal information and redirect wire transfers. When the group first began carrying out this scheme, the phishing emails contained deceptive messages associated with generic business activities. For example, the malicious link in the email was titled with business terms such as “Q4 Report – Dec19,” as seen below."
"With these recent efforts, however, the phishing emails instead contained messages regarding COVID-19 as a means to exploit pandemic-related financial concerns and induce targeted victims to click on malicious links. For example, using terms such as “COVID-19 Bonus,” as seen here."
"Once victims clicked on the deceptive links, they were ultimately prompted to grant access permissions to a malicious web application (web app). Web apps are familiar-looking as they are widely used in organizations to drive productivity, create efficiencies and increase security in a distributed network. Unknown to the victim, these malicious web apps were controlled by the criminals, who, with fraudulently obtained permission, could access the victim’s Microsoft Office 365 account. This scheme enabled unauthorized access without explicitly requiring the victims to directly give up their login credentials at a fake website or similar interface, as they would in a more traditional phishing campaign.
After clicking through the consent prompt for the malicious web app (pictured below), the victim unwittingly granted criminals permission to access and control the victims’ Office 365 account contents, including email, contacts, notes and material stored in the victims’ OneDrive for Business cloud storage space and corporate SharePoint document management and storage system."
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