What is the "GitHub email scam"?
"GitHub email scam" is a spam email campaign disguised as mail from GitHub. The goal of these messages is to extract recipients' GitHub account log-in credentials (usernames / registered email address and passwords).
The deceptive messages are presented as notifications concerning a repeat email address verification with which users have apparently registered their GitHub accounts.
GitHub is a multi-functional repository hosting service - a code hosting platform designed for control and collaboration purposes. It must emphasized that these scam emails are in no way associated with GitHub, Inc.
The "GitHub email scam" messages state that, to ensure user safety, "GitHub" is verifying provided email addresses. The repeat email validation is supposedly a standard procedure, which is periodically carried out. The emails instruct recipients to verify their email address as part of this process.
Recipients are instructed that by validating their email address, they allow "GitHub staff" to provide better security and help if account passwords are forgotten. This also allegedly allows users to access additional features on GitHub.
Therefore, after recipients verify their email address, they are able to access "all of GitHub's features to explore, build, and share projects" once more. In fact, when the button/link listed in the emails is clicked, users are redirected to a phishing website disguised as the genuine log-in page of GitHub.
The fake web page is practically identical to the real site. Even the bogus site's URL address (gltnub[.]com/login) closely mimics the legitimate page (github.com/login). The fake web page URL differs by just two characters from the genuine address. The page is designed to exploit any carelessness and lack of attention by users.
I.e., 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 bogus web page, you are strongly advised to immediately change the potentially compromised GitHub account password. You are also advised to contact official GitHub Support through the legitimate website.
|Name||GitHub Email Scam|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.|
|Fake Claim||Recipients must verify the email address registered with their GitHub.|
|Disguise||Emails are disguised as notifications from GitHub.|
|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)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Scam emails are sent by the thousand via large scale operations called "spam campaigns". "ShareFile Attachment email scam", "ProtonMail email scam", and "Dropbox email scam" are some 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 these deceptive emails.
They can also be used to trick recipients into providing other sensitive information and/or to fool them into falling victim to other scams such as, for example, "2020 EU/COMMONWEALTH LOTTO", "2020 MASTERCARD USERS AWARD", "Your local network has been compromised", "UBS INVESTMENT", etc.
Furthermore, spam campaigns are used to proliferate Trojans, ransomware, cryptominers and other malware such as "Inland Revenue Exchange System", "Agenzia entrate", "Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan" and countless others.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
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 when the document is opened, however, newer versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents this process from being started automatically.
In these later Microsoft Office versions, users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing/content), and so infection is only triggered if the macros are enabled manually.
How to avoid installation of malware
Do not open suspect or irrelevant emails, especially those with any attachments or links found in them, as this can lead to high-risk infection. You are advised to only use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malware has several common proliferation methods, aside from spam campaigns.
Malicious programs are also distributed via untrusted 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, use only 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 suite installed. This software must be kept up to date, used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats. 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 "GitHub email scam" message:
Subject: [GitHub] Please validate your email address
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
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:
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT 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:
- What is GitHub spam?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious 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.
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.
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:
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.