Email users warned to stay vigilant as scammers masquerade as well-known tech brands
A cybersecurity software company has issued a warning for email users after identifying a “notable rise” in an alarming new trend being used by scammers.
The trend involves trusted and “established” tech brands Microsoft and Adobe, with scammers sending malicious attachments purporting to be from the two companies via email, according to Czech company Avast.
In its new Threat Report looking at the first quarter of 2023, Avast found an increase in this type of scam, with work programs Microsoft OneNote and Adobe Acrobat Sign commonly used.
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“Scammers send out Microsoft OneNote files as email attachments to victims, triggering malware downloads when someone opens the attachment,” Avast said.
Cybercriminals are using legitimate Adobe email addresses to send documents containing malicious links. The user is prompted to click on the link, which downloads .ZIP files hat contain malware that can steal passwords.
Avast found that during the first quarter of 2023, it had protected more than 47,000 global customers from these types of cyberattacks.
Avast Malware Research Director Jakub Kroustek urged email users to take “extra caution” before downloading files or clicking on a link, even if they appear to be from trusted brands.
“Cyber Safety software can act as a safety net for providing an extra layer of security to these types of savvy attacks that are increasingly targeting people,” he said.
“Unfortunately, scammers have made it nearly impossible to take any message as face value — all communications, whether seemingly from a friend, boss, or household brand, have potential to be fraudulent.”
The software company also found that phishing attacks — a technique scammers use to obtain personal information — had increased by 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same time last year.
An example of a phishing scam on the rise is refund and invoice scams.
“Fraudsters send false bills or invoices for goods or services never ordered or received,” Avast said.
“Scammers often use well-known household names with recognisable branding and logos to make these scams appear genuine.”
Kroustek said scammers often attempt to create a sense of urgency when sending fraudulent messages.
If people receive an “out-of-the-blue” message or an urgent request, Kroustek said it was wise to take a few moments to assess the legitimacy of the message.
“Always take a close look to confirm that an email or text is coming from a trusted sender, and if you have any doubt, go directly to the source, whether that be a person you know or a company’s help portal.”
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