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Phishing Scam Takes Advantage of Iranian Cyberattack Scare

Last edited: January 20, 2020
Reading time: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Attackers have attempted to use US’s Iranian cyberattack warning in a phishing scam to steal Microsoft login credentials.

Taking Advantage of the Political Climate between US and Iran

Following the US drone attack that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, the US government issued warnings to citizens and officials to a likely increase in cyberattacks from Iran.

Consequently, an attacker has taken advantage of the Iranian Cyberattack scare and government warnings to setup a phishing scam to steal Microsoft login credentials.

How does the Iranian Cyberattack Phishing Scam Work?

This phishing scam sends out an email pretending to be from Microsoft MSA with the subject “Email users hit by Iran cyber attack”. Apparently, the email can bypass Outlook’s spam filters and arrive in the inbox.

Moreover, the email states that Microsoft servers have been hit by an Iranian cyberattack. It then goes on to say that in response to the attack, Microsoft was forced to lock email and data on Microsoft servers to protect users.

To regain full access to this locked data, the phishing email informs the recipient to log in again. A button is  provided on the email for this purpose. Clicking on the button, redirects the victim to a phishing page designed to look like a Microsoft login form.

What do Attackers Do with Scammed Data

If users enter their Microsoft login credentials, the phishing page sends the entered credentials to the attackers. The hackers then use these credentials to conduct further attacks. These include identity thefts, targeted phishing scams and credential stuffing attacks.

Credential stuffing is a type of cyberattack using stolen credentials. The stolen credentials are used to gain access to user accounts through large-scale automated login requests. These requests are directed against web applications such as online banking sites. The attacker is hoping that some of the phishing victims have used the same username and password for their online banking, for example, as for their Microsoft accounts.

How to Avoid Falling Victim to Phishing Scams

You can take several steps to avoid falling victim to phishing scams like this one. For instance, it is important to use good antivirussoftware and always update all the programs on you device. Maybe you can even consider using additional cyber protection like a VPN. Moreover, by learning more about the tactics of hackers you can learn to recognise a phishing email. Make sure you aren’t the next victim of a nasty hack like this!

Information technology expert
Grace is an information technology expert who joined the VPNoverview team in 2019, writing cybersecurity and internet privacy-based news articles. Due to her IT background in legal firms, these subjects have always been of great interest to her.

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