Do not trust the Your cloud storage was compromised scam
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is Your cloud storage was compromised email scam?
Typically, scammers behind sextortion scam emails claim to have compromising images or videos of the recipient and demand payment for not releasing those images or videos. In most cases, scammers claim to have used recipient's webcam to obtain compromising material.
The main purpose of such scams is to trick the recipient into believing that compromising material will be sent to other people (e.g., family, friends, coworkers) or published on the Internet if he or she does not pay the ransom.
Scammers behind this particular sextortion scam claim that recipient's Cloud storage has been compromised and all the data stored on it has been copied. They also claim that copied data contains pictures, documents, contacts, and other data, including deleted files.
Their main goal is to trick the recipient into believing that all data will be shared with third parties if he/she does not transfer $2000 in Bitcoins to the provided BTC wallet address. Additionally, scammers claim that the payment has to be made as soon as possible because the recipient will have to pay three times more after some time.
It is important to mention that scammers can include recipients' real passwords in their sextortion emails to trick the recipient into believing that a computer has been hacked. It is common that included passwords are old. Scammers get them from hacker forums or other places on the Internet where cybercriminals publish information released after some data breach.
If the included password is not old, that it should be changed as soon as possible. Otherwise, some accounts may be stolen. Another important detail about sextortion scams is that scammers may use spoofing techniques to forge the sender's address.
Usually, they make the sender's and recipient's addresses the same to trick the recipient into thinking that the email account has been hacked.
|Name||Your cloud storage was compromised email scam|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Recipient's Cloud storage has been compromised|
|Ransom Amount||$2000 in Bitcoins|
|Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address||13gdUqbxkC2TQPmaHLuMsTatATz6jHCwkp|
|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.
More examples of sextortion scams are "This Is Not A Formal Email Scam", "I Have To Share Bad News With You", "I Monitored Your Device On The Net For A Long Time". As a rule, scammers these scams try to trick unsuspecting recipients into paying them money for non-existing photos or videos (to trick recipients into calling their bluff).
It is important to mention that email can be used as a channel to deliver malicious software. A couple of examples of malicious emails are "Contract Agreement Email Virus" and "Order Confirmation Email Virus".
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
As a rule, emails used to deliver malware contain malicious files (attachments) or links. In most cases, cybercriminals behind these emails pretend to be legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities (they use their real logos, names, addresses, etc.).
Usually, users infect computers after opening a malicious file. Although, malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office 2010 (and newer versions) do not install malware unless users enable macros commands (editing/content). If opened with older MS Office versions, those documents install malware automatically because they do not have the "Protected View" mode.
How to avoid installation of malware?
It is strongly recommended not to open files (attachments) or website links in irrelevant emails. Especially when such emails are sent from suspicious, unknown senders.
It is important to remember that malicious emails are 4disguised as official letters from legitimate companies. Furthermore, files and software should be downloaded from official pages and via direct download links.
It is not safe to use questionable channels like unofficial pages, third-party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks, etc., to download files or programs. One more important thing is to update and activate software properly.
It has to be done using implemented functions or tools provided by the official developers. It is very common for third-party, unofficial tools to be malicious (designed to install malware).
Also, it is not legal to use 'cracking' tools to activate software or use hacked ('cracked') software. Additionally, it is advisable to scan a computer for threats regularly and do it using a reputable antivirus or and anti-spyware software.
If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the Your cloud storage was compromised email scam:
Subject: With reference to your cloud storage
I am sorry to inform you that your cloud storage was compromised.
Let’s get the biggest elephant out of the room first.
I am not a part of shady group that encrypts your data and extorts money leaving you no choice. But I HAVE copied your data.
The choice is yours.
Here is what happened, one of the websites where you have an account was breached.
After that I got access to your password from that breach and with some advanced manipulations and bruteforce extracted your backup data.
The data set that I have downloaded and parsed contains pictures, documents, contacts and more including some deleted files.
I don't have much time and dedication NOW to go through all of the files, but with some fast looking I did - I am sure that you dont want some of them to be seen by other people.
What I can do if you don't follow my instructions is simple.
I can send from your name to your contacts the most interesting content, it's the least I can do. You may care or not, it's up to you to decide.
If you decide that you don't care, I will go through all files, and who knows what more I may find more.
Maybe you have some confidential business information. Or GREAT nudes and videos.
If I spend more time on your case, the amount will be 3 times bigger. Depends on the content.
So let's make it simple. You pay me $2000 USD, I delete the data, you change your password.
Business as usual, use Bitcoin to make the transfer.
Account is unique and you have some reasonable time to make the payment.
Another variant of "Your cloud storage was compromised" scam email ("Your mobile backup storage was compromised"):
Text presented within:
Subject: With reference to your cloud storage
I am sorry to inform you that your mobile backup storage was compromised.
I'll explain what led to all of this. One website where you have an account was hacked.
I've got access to your password from that breach and with some advanced hacking techniques and bruteforce, I have extracted your backup data from the cloud storage used for backups.
Nothing could have prevented this, not even 2FA.
The data that I have downloaded contains your personal photos and videos, chats, documents, emails, contacts, your browsing history, notes, social media history and more including some deleted files.
Basically it's a full copy of your mobile device.
I am sure that you dont want any part of the data to be seen by other people. And you can prevent this.
If I dont get what I'm asking for, I will use this information against you. I find some of the media content quite entertaining(you know what I'm talking about), your friends and colleagues will not think the same.
If you are not sure of what I can do, just imagine what would happen if I use your email or phone number to send the most private and damaging content to your contacts. And can spice up things with you browsing history as well.
It will be very damaging to you personally.
However, I offer you a solution. You will avoid this mess by paying me a consulting fee to delete the files I have.
I guarantee, that after I receive the payment, the files will be deleted on my side and I will not bother you again about this. You will need to change your password as well.
So let's make it simple. You pay me $1500 USD. Use Bitcoin to make the transfer.
Wallet address is bc1qej30uk9medzyykvaghg38dtry7xuyc0f3fzg78 , it's unique and I will know that you made the payment immediately.
You have 2 days to make the transfer, I think that's reasonable.
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- What is Your Cloud Storage Was Compromised 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.
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