Avoid getting your account stolen by fake "GitHub" emails

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

"GitHub email scam" removal guide

What is the "GitHub email scam"?

"GitHub email scam" is an email spam campaign, disguised as mail from GitHub. The goal of these letters is to extract recipients' GitHub account log-in credentials (usernames / registered email address and passwords). The deceptive letters are presented as notifications, concerning a repeat email address verification - with which users have registered their GitHub accounts. GitHub is a multi-functional repository hosting service; in other words, it is a code hosting platform designed for control and collaboration purposes. It must emphasized these scam emails are in no way associated with GitHub, Inc.

GitHub email spam campaign

The "GitHub email scam" letters state that to ensure user safety, "GitHub" is verifying provided mail addresses. The repeat email validation is supposedly a standard procedure that is periodically carried out. The emails instruct recipients to verify their email address in order to complete this process. Recipients are told that by validating their mail address - they allow "GitHub staff" to provide better security and aid in case the account password is forgotten. This also allegedly allows users to access additional features on GitHub. Hence, after recipients verify their email address, they will be able to access "all of GitHub's features to explore, build, and share projects" once more. However, when the button/link listed in the emails is clicked - users are redirected to a phishing website. It is disguised as the genuine log-in page of GitHub; in fact, the fake webpage is practically identical to the real one. Even the illegitimate site's URL address (gltnub[.]com/login) closely mimics the legitimate page (github.com/login). The fake webpage URL is just two letter off from the real address; the page is designed to bank on user inattentiveness - the confusion between the uppercase letter "I" and lowercase letter "L", and the moderate resemblance of the lowercase letters "h" and "n". If users attempt to log-in through the phishing website, they will inadvertently expose their GitHub account log-in credentials to the designers of this scam. Therefore, their accounts can be stolen and they are likely to lose access to them. If sign-in attempts have already been made through the illegitimate webpage, it is strongly advised to immediately change the potentially compromised GitHub account's password. It is also recommended to contact the official GitHub Support through the legitimate website.

Threat Summary:
Name GitHub Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipients need to verify the email address registered with their GitHub
Disguise Emails are disguised as notification from GitHub
Related Domains gltnub[.]com
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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Scam emails are sent by the thousand via large scale operations called "spam campaigns". "ShareFile Attachment email scam", "ProtonMail email scam", "Dropbox email scam" - are a few examples of spam campaigns similar to the "GitHub email scam". The mail distributed in these operations is typically disguised as "official", "important", "urgent", and so on. However, password-phishing is not the only purpose of deceptive emails. They can be used to trick recipients into providing other sensitive information and/or to fool them into falling victim to other scams; e.g. "2020 EU/COMMONWEALTH LOTTO", "2020 MASTERCARD USERS AWARD", "Your local network has been compromised", "UBS INVESTMENT", etc. What is more, spam campaigns are used to proliferate trojans, ransomware, cryptominers and other malware; e.g. "Inland Revenue Exchange System", "Agenzia entrate", "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" and countless more.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Systems are infected through virulent files, distributed in spam campaigns. The emails can contain download links of such content and/or the files can be attached to the letters. Malicious files can be in various formats, e.g. archives, executables, PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, etc. When they are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection chain (i.e. download/installation of malware) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. In MS Office versions released prior to 2010, the infection is triggered the moment a document is opened. However, the newer versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents this process from being started automatically. In these Microsoft Office versions users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing/content); hence, infection is only triggered if the macros are enabled manually.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspect and/or irrelevant emails should not be opened, especially any attachments or links found in them - as the latter can lead to a high-risk infection. It is recommended to only use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malware has several popular proliferation methods, aside form spam campaigns. Malicious programs are also distributed via untrustworthy download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updates. Therefore, it is strongly advised to only download from official/verified sources, and activate/update programs with tools or functions provided by genuine developers. It is paramount to device/user safety to have a reputable anti-virus installed. This software must be kept up-to-date, used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "GitHub email scam" letter:

Subject: [GitHub] Please validate your email address

 

Hi, ********!

 

To ensure our users safety we want to make sure that our emails are received in good order. We therefore occasionally require our users to re-validate their email(s).

 

To complete this process, we just need to verify your email address: ************

 

Validating your email address ensures strengthened security, allows GitHub staff to better assist you if you forget your password, and gives you access to more features on GitHub.

 

Once validated, you can again start using all of GitHub's features to explore, build, and share projects.

 

Button not working? Click the following link or paste it in your browser: hxxps://github.com/users/geelen/emails/8812371/confirm_verification/e8smde1fa134jd7ab4427d359b490f833d0010b3

 

Email preferences · Terms · Privacy · Sign into GitHub


GitHub
Sent with GitHub, Inc. 88 Colin P Kelly Jr Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

Screenshot of the phishing website (gltnub.com), used to steal GitHub account log-in credentials:

Phishing website promoted by GitHub Email Scam

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes 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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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - usually it is best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using Malwarebytes for Windows. If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:

malicious process running on user's computer sample

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example, using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:

screenshot of autoruns application

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

 

manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.

extract autoruns.zip and run autoruns.exe

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.

Click 'Options' at the top and uncheck 'Hide Empty Locations' and 'Hide Windows Entries' options

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by the Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you wish to remove, right click your mouse over its name and choose "Delete".

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through the Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup), you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the filename of the malware, be sure to remove it.

searching for malware file on your computer

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. If you do not have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs. These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.

To be sure your computer is free of malware infections, we recommend scanning it with Malwarebytes for Windows.

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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