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Avoid cyber attacks from an Iran Government email

Also Known As: Cyber Attack From Iran Government spam
Damage level: Medium

What is "Cyber attack from Iran Government" email?

Discovered by Michael Gillett, "Cyber attack from Iran Government" is the title of an email scam that steals the log-in credentials of users' Microsoft accounts. This phishing scam claims that Microsoft servers have experienced a cyber attack, and therefore users' accounts have been locked to protect their email accounts and data integrity.

This fake cyber attack supposedly originated from Iran, which the designers of this scheme have chosen due to tensions present between the United States and Iran. The "Cyber attack from Iran Government" email scam was devised following warnings issued by the US government concerning potential cyber attacks from Iran.

Cyber attack from Iran Government email spam campaign

The "Cyber attack from Iran Government" message states that, on this day, Microsoft servers have been hit with a cyber attack from the Iranian government. To ensure users' security, additional safety measures have been implemented: their email accounts and associated files have been made inaccessible.

To regain access, users must sign-in again via the link ("Restore Data" button) present at the bottom of the text. The email states that if users continue experiencing email-related issues, they must be patient, as the Microsoft support team is currently working on resolving and removing them immediately.

The link in the message redirects to a phishing site, which contains the legitimate fields to provide log-in details. This email is a scam and is in no way related to Microsoft. All information presented in this message is false. Trusting "Cyber attack from Iran Government" (i.e., entering account credentials) can lead to serious issues and endanger users' privacy and safety.

Threat Summary:
Name Cyber attack from Iran Government Email Scam.
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim The email claims that Microsoft servers have been attacked and users' accounts have been locked.
Disguise The email is disguised as a message from Microsoft.
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Various models are used for email scams. Social engineering and scare-tactics are used to trick users into performing specific actions. "Final Warning", "TOYOTA LOTTERY ORGANIZATION", "You will find a trojan" are a number examples of schemes furthered via email.

The purpose can be to trick users into revealing private and sensitive information, make monetary transactions (e.g. blackmail, fees and fines, payments for "services rendered", etc.), download/install/purchase untrustworthy and/or malicious software to name just a few.

The underlying goal of these deceptive messages is to generate revenue for the designers at the expense of innocent users.

Spelling and grammatical errors are common in these scams, and "Cyber attack from Iran Government" is no exception. Messages allegedly from official sources, and yet riddled with mistakes and inconsistencies, are highly likely to be scam attempts. Therefore, you are advised to treat them with extreme caution.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Large-scale spam campaigns are used to send thousands of deceptive emails, which infect systems via malicious files attached (or linked). These messages are usually presented as "official", "important", "urgent" and "priority" mail. The dangerous attachments can be in various formats.

For example, archive (RAR, ZIP) and executable (.exe, .run) files, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript and many others. When an infectious file is executed, run or otherwise opened, it initiates the infection process. Therefore, opening an email attachment can trigger it to begin downloading/installing malware.

For example, MS Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands.

When these files are opened, they urge users to enable macros (i.e., enable editing). If this is done, installation of malicious content begins. Furthermore, be aware that versions of Microsoft Office released prior to 2010 do not have "Protected Mode", therefore macros are enabled automatically once the document is opened.

How to avoid installation of malware

You are strongly advised not to open dubious and/or irrelevant emails, especially those received from unknown senders (addresses). Do not open any attachments or links present in suspicious messages. Opening malicious files will trigger them to begin downloading/installing malware.

Use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. The newer versions have "Protected Mode", which prevents malicious macros from infecting systems when a dangerous document is opened. If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Cyber attack from Iran Government" email message:

Cyber Attack

 

Microsoft servers have been hit today with an Cyber Attack from Iran Government

For your seifty and security we had to take extra mesures to protect your account and your personal data.

Some emails and files might still be locked on our servers, in order to get full access to your emails and files you have to signin again.

If you still have problems receiveing emails please be patient, our support team is working on this issue and we will fix this as soon as possible.
 
Restore Data

Screenshot of the website redirected to by the link ("Restore Data") within the "Cyber attack from Iran Government" email:

website the Cyber attack from Iran Government scam redirects to

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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