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Employees Targeted By Hackers Posing As HR Department

By November 12, 2019May 9th, 2022Cybersecurity

Just when you think scammers couldn’t get any lower, they find new ways to prove you wrong.  Recently, a new phishing scam has been spotted in the wild, this one baiting potential victims with the possibility of pay raises.

The scammers structured their email so that they appeared to come from the Human Resources department of their victims’ companies.

They asked the recipient of their phishing email to open an Excel spreadsheet bearing the name “salary-increase-sheet-November-2019.xls.”  A shortcut to the remotely hosted spreadsheet was naturally provided.

The body of the email explained that “The Years Wage increase will start in November 2019 and will be paid out for the first time in December, with recalculation as of November.”  Needless to say, this tends to catch most people’s attention.  After all, who doesn’t want a raise, right?

If a recipient clicked on the link, he or she would then be asked to provide Office 365 login credentials in order to see the file.  Of course, the file contains dummy data and has nothing to do with getting a raise; it’s simply a useful hook to get an unwitting user to hand over their credentials.

The scammers not only constructed a convincing looking email, but the Office 365 login screen looks exactly like a legitimate login screen. This goes far in explaining the campaign’s unusually high success rate.

The researchers who have been following the issue urge Office 365 users to enable multi-factor authentication via Office 365 or a third-party solution. They also encourage business owners to enroll their staff in phishing awareness training programs designed to help employees spot and report phishing attempts more easily.

Be on high alert for this one.  So far it has proved to be a highly effective campaign.

Chris Forte

Chris Forte, President and CEO of Olmec Systems, has been in the MSP workspace for the past 25 years. Chris earned his Master’s Degree from West Virginia University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He was a past member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a current member of the New Jersey Power Partners and Executive Association of New Jersey, where he has previously served on its board of directors. In his spare time, Chris enjoys traveling with his family. He also admits to being a struggling golfer and avid watcher of college football and basketball. He currently lives in Boonton Township, NJ with his wife, two daughters, son, and black lab Luna.