What kind of email is "Data Backup"?
Our inspection revealed that this "Data Backup" email is spam. It operates as a phishing scam targeting email account log-in credentials. The fake letter claims that the mail service will be shut down, but if the recipient uses the linked backup guide – they will be able to continue using their account. However, the link redirects to a phishing site.
"Data Backup" email scam overview
The spam letter states that the recipient's email account will be shut down after 24 hours due to a general system update. If they wish to continue using the service, the fake email informs that the recipient can follow the link (by pressing the button presented in it) to receive instructions on creating a backup. Should the backup process not be initiated within the given timeframe – it will be impossible to continue using the email account.
When we pressed this button, it resulted in a redirect to a phishing site requesting visitors to sign in with their email accounts. By obtaining victims' passwords – the scammers can steal the exposed emails and potentially the content registered through them.
Cyber criminals can steal the identities of social platform users (e.g., emails, social networking/media, messengers, forums, etc.) and ask the contacts/friends for loans, promote scams, or proliferate malware by sharing malicious links/files.
Furthermore, stolen finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to make unauthorized transactions and/or online purchases.
In summary, by trusting an email like "Data Backup" – users can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.
If you have already provided your log-in credentials – change the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and contact their official support without delay.
|Name||"Data Backup" phishing email|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Email account will be shutdown due to a system update, unless the recipient creates a backup.|
|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.
Spam campaigns in general
We have inspected countless spam letters; "USPS - Shipment Is Still Pending", "Mailbox Cache Is Full", "People's Postcode Lottery", and "Unknown Browser Login" – are just some examples of ones used for phishing. This deceptive mail can target a wide variety of data and use different claims to obtain it.
Popular scam models include: account-related issues (e.g., updates/upgrades, suspicious activity, pending emails, failed payments, etc.), lotteries, giveaways, inheritances, shipping-related problems, finance-related messages (e.g., invoices, potential purchases, bank notifications, etc.), sextortion, and so on.
Due to how prevalent and well-disguised this mail can be – we strongly recommend exercising caution with incoming emails, PMs/DMs, and other messages.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
When such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened – the infection process (i.e., malware downloads/installation) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect devices by executing malicious macro commands.
How to avoid installation of malware?
We advise being careful with incoming emails and other messages. The attachments and links found in suspicious/irrelevant mail must not be opened, as they can be malicious. It is important to use post-2010 Microsoft Office versions since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro execution.
Since malware is proliferated using various techniques, we also recommend downloading only from official and trustworthy channels. Furthermore, all programs must be activated and updated using genuine functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updates can contain malware.
Another recommendation is to be vigilant when browsing since fake and dangerous online content typically appears legitimate and innocuous.
Having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept updated is paramount to device/user safety. This software must be used to run regular system scans and to remove threats and 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 "Data Backup" spam email letter:
Subject: ******** Important Notice
Thank you for using ******** service.
This ******** account service will be shut down after a grace period of 24hrs after the general system update of our service in December 2022.
We will inform you about data backup below if you want to continue using ********
Free backup or shutdown instructions
If you fail to initiate a back up guide, this service ends on February 2nd and you will not be able to log in any more.
******** backup guide
Backup guide for continued use
You can continue to use this account after the backup initiation process.
Follow the backup link guide and log in to continue using this service.
Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "Data Backup" spam campaign:
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:
- What is "Data Backup" phishing email?
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why did I receive this email?
Spam emails are not personal. They are distributed in mass-scale campaigns – therefore, thousands of users receive identical letters.
I have provided my personal information when tricked by this spam email, what should I do?
If you have disclosed your log-in credentials – change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support without delay. And if you've provided other private data (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, credit card numbers, etc.) – immediately contact relevant authorities.
I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?
No, infections are triggered when malicious attachments/links found in spam mail are opened/clicked.
I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?
Whether your device was infected may depend on the opened file's format. Executables (.exe, .run, etc.) cause infections almost without fail when they are opened. However, documents (.xls, .pdf, .doc, etc.) might need additional interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands) to start downloading/installing malware.
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?
Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating most of the known malware infections. It must be stressed that performing a full system scan is essential – since sophisticated malicious software usually hides deep within systems.