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Avoid losing your accounts through emails requesting password verification

Also Known As: Password Verification phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Password Verification"?

After analyzing this "Password Verification" email, we determined that it is a phishing spam email. Like many of its ilk, this letter attempts to trick recipients into revealing their email log-in credentials (passwords) by making false claims about their account's impending deactivation.

Password Verification email spam campaign

"Password Verification" email scam overview

This email states that the recipient's [email account] password will expire at a certain date. The letter urges to provide reconfirmation in order to resume using the same password, thus avoiding the account's deactivation. As mentioned in the introduction, this email is fake, as is the information provided by it.

The "Click to reconfirm >>" button within this letter redirects to a phishing website. The site is presented as an email account sign-in page. However, the log-in credentials entered into this webpage will not redirect users to their account - instead, the provided information (passwords) will be sent to the cyber criminals behind this scam.

Emails are particularly targeted by scammers since through them - access may be gained to content registered through it, e.g., social networking, social media, streaming service, online money transferring, e-commerce, banking, and various other accounts.

Cyber criminals can use stolen communication accounts to ask contacts/friends for loans or proliferate malware (by sharing malicious files/links) - under the guise of the genuine owners. Furthermore, criminals can use finance-related accounts to make fraudulent transactions or online purchases.

In summary, by trusting emails like this "Password Verification" letter - users can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

If you've already entered log-in credentials into a phishing site or file - immediately change the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and contact their official support.

Threat Summary:
Name Password Verification phishing email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Email password will expire and the account will be deactivated - unless it is reconfirmed.
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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Phishing spam campaign examples

We have analyzed thousands of spam emails; "Unusual Sign-in Activity", "Your Group Sent You A Message", "Message Failure Receiving Notice", and "Your OneDrive Is Inactive And Will Soon Be Deleted" are just some examples of those used for phishing.

This mail facilitates a wide variety of scams and employs a broad range of disguises. Additionally, these letters are used to spread trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and other malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam emails proliferate malware by distributing malicious files. These files can be attached to the letters or spread through linked websites. Virulent files can be Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives, executables, JavaScript, and so on.

Once such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly recommend exercising caution with incoming mail. The attachments and links present in suspicious/irrelevant emails and messages - must not be opened since that may result in a system infection.

Additionally, we advise using Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 - as they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro command execution.

However, malware is not distributed exclusively through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise downloading only from official/verified channels and activating/updating software with legitimate tools since illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updaters can contain malware.

It is essential to have a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security programs must be used to perform regular system scans and to remove detected threats/issues. 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 "Password Verification" scam email letter:

Subject: ******** urgent deativation alert


******** Password Verification

 
Password expires 19 July, 2022.

 
Your ******** Password will expire 19 July, 2022, please follow below portal to confirm and continue using the same password.


Recipient:     
Date:     15 July, 2022
Time:     02:30:11 AM
Expires:     19 July, 2022

 
Click to reconfirm >>
 
Note: The content of this email is confidential and intended for the recipient specified in message only. It is strictly forbidden to share any part of this message with any third party, without a written consent of the sender. If you received this message by mistake, please reply to this message and follow with its deletion, so that we can ensure such a mistake does not occur in the future.

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "Password Verification" spam campaign:

Password Verification scam email promoted phishing site

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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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

Cyber criminals send out spam emails in large-scale operations. Hence, thousands of users receive identical messages.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by this spam email, what should I do?

If you have disclosed account log-in credentials - change the passwords of potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay. And if you have provided other private data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - immediately contact the corresponding authorities.

I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?

No, opening a spam email is harmless. Systems are infected when the attachments or links found in this mail are opened/clicked.

I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?

Whether an infection occurred might depend on the opened file's format. If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) - most likely, yes - your system was infected. However, you might have avoided triggering malware download/installation processes if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .pdf, etc.). These formats may require additional user interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands, etc.) to initiate infection chains.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate practically all known malware infections. Note that running a complete system scan is paramount - since sophisticated malicious software usually hides deep within systems.

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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.

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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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