Avoid having your account stolen via "Password Expiry Notification" email
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What kind of email is "Password Expiry Notification"?
Our inspection of the "Password Expiry Notification" email revealed that it is spam. It falsely claims that the recipient's email account password will expire soon. The goal of this phishing mail is to obtain victims' log-in credentials and steal their email accounts.
"Password Expiry Notification" email scam overview
The email with the subject "Final warning: Password for [recipient's_email_account_address] expires in 48hrs." (may vary) informs the recipient that their email password will expire in two days. The recipient is instructed to click the button presented in the letter in order to keep their current password. As previously mentioned, this email is fake, as are all its claims.
When we pressed the "KEEP CURRENT Password" button, it resulted in a redirect to a phishing website that mimics the recipient's email account sign-in page. The log-in credentials (i.e., email address and corresponding password) entered into this site will be recorded. With this data in their possession, scammers can steal the exposed mail accounts and the content registered through them.
Hijacked accounts and platforms can be variously misused and abused for profit. For example, cyber criminals can steal the identities of social account owners (e.g., emails, social networking, social media, etc.) and ask the contacts/friends/followers for loans or donations, promote scams, and proliferate malware by sharing malicious files/links.
Finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and online purchases.
In summary, by trusting an email like "Password Expiry Notification" – users can experience system infections, 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||"Password Expiry Notification" phishing email|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Email account password will expire in 48 hours.|
|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.
Phishing spam campaign examples
We have analyzed thousands of spam emails; "Junk Filter", "DHL - Shipment Designated", "Check Your Email", "Bank Slip", and "Webmail Security Changes" are merely some examples of phishing campaigns.
These letters are used to facilitate various scams and even to proliferate trojans, ransomware, and other malware. Various social engineering techniques and disguises are employed. These emails can even be presented as messages from legitimate companies, corporations, service providers, institutions, authorities, and other entities.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
When such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened – the infection chain (i.e., malware download/installation) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect devices by executing malicious macro commands, while virulent OneNote files require users to click on embedded files/links.
How to avoid installation of malware?
We strongly recommend approaching incoming mail (e.g., emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, etc.) with care. The attachments and links found in dubious/irrelevant mail must not be opened, as they can be virulent. It is crucial to use post-2010 Microsoft Office versions since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro command execution.
It must be mentioned that malware is not proliferated only via spam mail. Therefore, all downloads must be performed from official and verified channels. Furthermore, all programs must be activated and updated using legitimate functions/tools, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updaters can contain malware.
Another recommendation is to be vigilant when browsing since fraudulent and malicious online content usually appears harmless.
We must emphasize the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security programs must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected 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 "Password Expiry Notification" spam email letter:
Subject: Final warning: Password for - expires in 48hrs.
Password Expiry Notification
Password for - expires in 48hrs.
You can continue using your current Password via the link below.
KEEP CURRENT Password
- Webmail Support
Unsubscribe From This List | Manage Email Preferences
Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "Password Expiry Notification" 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 "Password Expiry Notification" 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. These letters are distributed in massive campaigns – 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 provided log-in credentials – immediately change the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and inform their official support. And if you've disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) – contact the appropriate authorities without delay.
I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?
No, merely opening or reading an email will not initiate any system infection processes. Malware download/installation processes are triggered when a malicious attachment or link is opened/clicked.
I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?
Whether your device was infected might depend on the opened file's format. If it was an executable (.exe, run, etc.) – most likely, yes. However, document formats (.doc, .xls, .one, .pdf, etc.) may need additional user interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking on embedded content, etc.) – to start downloading/installing malware.
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?
Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate almost all known malware infections. It must be stressed that since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems – running a complete system scan is essential.
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