Tech

FBI warns of phishing targeting high-profile brands’ customers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned today of recently detected spear-phishing email campaigns targeting customers of “brand-name companies” in attacks known as brand phishing.

This warning was issued as a public service announcement through the bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center platform in coordination with DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The targets are sent to phishing landing pages through various means, including spam emails, text messages, or web and mobile apps that may spoof the identity or the online address of a company’s official site. 

Attackers embed login forms or malware into their phishing pages with the end goal of stealing their victims’ user credentials, payment details, or various other types of personally identifiable information (PII).

In addition to these ongoing phishing attacks, threat actors are also likely developing tools to bait potential targets into revealing info for bypassing account protections two-factor authentication (2FA) by intercepting emails and compromising accounts.

“When cyber criminals gain access to a consumer’s online and email accounts, cyber criminals may be able to intercept emails with 2FA codes that are used to make significant changes to online accounts, update passwords, verify user access, or change security rules and setup before the account owner is notified and aware,” the federal law enforcement agency said.

“The FBI has observed cyber criminals selling scamming software and offering these tools with the appearance of their own ongoing technical support.

“Cyber criminals are financially motivated to develop these scampage tools to enhance their scamming tactics and more effectively harvest the credentials of consumers to compromise and takeover account access.”

Brand phishing defense recommendations 

The FBI encouraged private sector partners to stay vigilant and evaluate their internal security policies and provide their consumers with info regarding account security protocols.

If you fall victim to a brand phishing attack, you should reach out to your local law enforcement agency or FBI field office (contact info available at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices) and report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov immediately.

Consumers are advised to follow these recommendations to defend against phishing attempts:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited contact via email or social media from any individual you do not know personally and/or containing messages enticing you to open a link or attached file.
  • When receiving account alerts, rather than clicking a link within an email or text, opt to navigate to the website using the secure URL to review any logs, messages, or notices.
  • Closely verify the spelling of web addresses, websites, and email addresses that look trustworthy but may be imitations of legitimate websites, to include the username and/or domain names/addresses (i.e., capital “I” vs small “L”, etc.).
  • Use strong unique passwords, and do not re-use the same password across multiple accounts.
  • Do not store important documents or information in your email account (e.g., digital currency private keys, documents with your social security number, or photocopies of a driver’s license).
  • Enable 2FA and/or multi-factor authentication (MFA) options to help secure online accounts, such as a phone number, software-based authenticator programs/apps, USB security key, or a separate email account (with a unique password that does not link to other consumer accounts) to receive authentication codes for account logins, password resets, or updates to sensitive account information.
  • When possible, do not use your primary email address for logins on Websites. Create a unique username not associated with your primary email address.

On Monday, the FBI and CISA also warned critical infrastructure partners and public/private sector orgs not to let down their defenses against ransomware attacks during the holiday season. 

In October, it notified the US public that threat actors are actively using fake and spoofed unemployment benefit websites to harvest their sensitive financial and personal info.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said in February that the total number of identity theft reports doubled last year compared to 2019, with a record of 1.4 million reports within a single year.

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