Scam of the Week: The Evil Airline Phishing Attack

Our friends at Barracuda run their Email Threat Scanner over hundreds of thousands of customer mailboxes and discovered a highly effective phishing attack that tricks a whopping 90% of the victims. You need to tell your users about this right away.

This evil airline phishing attack combines all “criminal best-practices” to steal credentials and drop malware on disk which is used to then further hack into your network.

The campaign targets companies that deal with frequent shipping of goods or employee travel, for instance logistics, shipping, or manufacturing, but almost any organization has people that frequently visit customers or business partners.

The phishing attack targets these employees, and the attackers do quite a bit of research before sending the phishing emails. The messages are constructed with subject lines and bodies that include destinations, airlines, and other details that are specific to each victim, helping them appear authentic. Here is an example subject line:

Fwd: United Airlines: Confirmation – Flight to Tokyo – 3,543.30 Dollars

“After getting the employee to open the email, the second tool employed by the attacker is an advanced persistent threat embedded in an email attachment. The attachment, usually a flight confirmation or receipt, is typically formatted as a PDF or DOCX document. In this attack, the malware will be executed upon the opening of the document,” Asaf Cidon, vice president of content security services at Barracuda, said in a post explaining the attacks.

To start with, send this to all employees, no matter if they travel or not. You’re welcome to copy/paste/edit:
“There is a new spin on an existing phishing scam you need to be aware of. Bad guys are doing research on you personally using social media and find out where and when you (might) travel for business. Next, they craft an email especially for you with an airline reservation or receipt that looks just like the real thing, sent with a spoofed “From” email address that also looks legit.

“Sometimes, they even have links in this email that go to a website that looks identical to the real airline, but it is fake. They try to do two things: 1) try to steal your company username and password, and 2) try to trick you into opening the attachment which could be a PDF or DOCX. If you click on the link or open the attachment, your workstation will possibly get infected with malware that allows the bad guys to hack into our network.

Remember, if you want to check any airline reservations or flight status, open your browser and type the website name in the address bar or use a bookmark that you yourself set earlier. Do not click on links in emails to go to websites. And as always…. Think before You Click!”
Let’s stay safe out there.