In another, in a long line of tactics to infect computers and devices with malware, attackers are using legitimate website contact forms to send emails with fake business links and legal threats.
Microsoft posted a warning on their blog last Friday regarding this newest threat. They said,
"Microsoft threat analysts have been tracking activity where contact forms published on websites are abused to deliver malicious links to enterprises using emails with fake legal threats. The emails instruct recipients to click a link to review supposed evidence behind their allegations but are instead led to the download of IcedID, an info-stealing malware. Microsoft Defender for Office 365 detects and blocks these emails and protects organizations from this threat."
The notice continues to warn users that this particular flavor of malware is capable of installing ransomware on the machine, stealing login credentials, copying keystrokes, and even moving across networks. The malware communicates back to a remote command-and-control (C2) server.
IcedID is a banking trojan that works on Windows-based PCs. Its primary objective is to gather information for banking websites and steal login credentials.
Microsoft also theorized that hackers used automated tools to send emails using company contact forms and circumvent CAPTCHA protections.
They further explained that
"In this campaign, we tracked that the malicious email that arrives in the recipient's inbox from the contact form query appears trustworthy as it was sent from trusted email marketing systems, further confirming its legitimacy while evading detection. As the emails are originating from the recipient's own contact form on their website, the email templates match what they would expect from an actual customer interaction or inquiry."
In one example, the message sent appeared to be from a photographer who just realized that the company was using her "intellectual property" on their website and threatened a lawsuit. The email's legal threats and frantic nature repeatedly urge the recipient to "click this link" and "download this document," which delivers the payload. The email also includes a link to a sites.google.com page. Google has been informed of this threat.
What Can Be Done About It?
In its notice, Microsoft assures users that "Microsoft 365 Defender defends organizations by using advanced technologies informed by Microsoft Defender for Office 365 and backed by security experts. Microsoft 365 Defender correlates signals on malicious emails, URLs, and files to deliver coordinated defense against evasive threats, their payloads, and their spread across networks.
Microsoft Defender for Office 365 supports organizations throughout an attack's lifecycle, from prevention and detection to investigation, hunting, and remediation–effectively protecting users through a coordinated defense framework."
They also stated that they were aware of this issue and actively investigating this threat with other security partners.
You can read the entire notice here if you want to learn more.
How Email Recipients Can Remain Safe
As with most of these types of threats, it's always a good practice to investigate further and find out precisely what is going on before taking any action especially clicking a link or downloading something that came to you in email. Other tips include:
- Secure your web forms with a CAPTCHA or other protections.
- Ensure your website is fully secured with a firewall.
- Update all plugins and core files of your website to avoid hacking incidents.
- Ignore insistent emails that pressure you to take some action like downloading files or clicking links.
- Keep good, strong antivirus/anti-malware running on all your devices.
- Watch out for social engineering tactics like legal threats or other pressure-filled techniques.