What kind of email is "Password Was Compromised Through A Legitimate Website"?
After analyzing the "Password Was Compromised Through A Legitimate Website" email, we determined that it is spam. This mail is a sextortion scam. It falsely claims that the recipient's device was infected with malware, which was then used to gain access to the microphone and camera.
Unlike in typical sextortion scams, this email does not state that sexually explicit content depicting the recipient was recorded. Rather, it implies that that is the case yet leaves room for interpretation to expand the pool of victims.
It must be stressed that all these claims are fake – hence, this mail poses no threat to recipients.
"Password Was Compromised Through A Legitimate Website" email scam overview
The email with the subject "Careful, it's important" (may vary) informs the recipient that their mail account password was obtained through a legitimate website. Allegedly, through the compromised email, the sender and their team were able to access and analyze all data stored on the account and fashion an attack vector.
The plan was a success, and the recipient's device was supposedly infected with a backdoor-type virus. The malware allowed them access to the content stored on the system and control over the device's microphone and camera.
The letter claims that an "archive" of "exploding" videos was compiled. No further elaboration is provided, thus separating this spam from standard sextortion scams. However, the implication is evident, and the vagueness may serve the purpose of broadening the number of potential victims.
The email then threatens that the recordings will be leaked – unless the recipient transfers 750 USD in Bitcoin cryptocurrency to the listed wallet address within two days. Complying with the demands will ensure that all the stolen and recorded data will be deleted and the virus – removed.
As mentioned in the introduction, all of the information provided by this spam email is false. This means that neither was the recipient's machine infected nor was any content exfiltrated or created. Therefore, this mail must simply be ignored and reported as spam.
It is pertinent to mention that scammers intentionally choose cryptocurrencies for ransoms, as their transactions are virtually untraceable, making transfer reversal practically impossible.
|"Password Was Compromised Through A Legitimate Website" sextortion email
|Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
|Recipient's device was infected and the attackers stole and recorded content, which will be leaked unless a ransom is paid.
|750 USD in Bitcoin cryptocurrency
|Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address
|Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
|Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
|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.
Sextortion spam campaign examples
We have inspected thousands of spam emails; "YouPorn email scam", "Specialized Hacker Succeeded In Hacking Your Operating System", "I Will Be Direct You Watch Adult Content", and "You Could Be In Trouble With The Law" are just a few examples of letters promoting sextortion scams.
It is noteworthy that this is not the only type of scam facilitated via spam mail. Deceptive emails/messages are also used to promote phishing, callback, tech support, refund, lottery, inheritance, and various other schemes. Furthermore, this mail is used to proliferate actual malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.).
Due to how prevalent spam mail is and how well-crafted it can be – we highly recommend being vigilant with incoming emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, and other messages.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
The malware download/installation process is initiated when an infectious file is opened. However, some formats may need additional interaction to trigger infection chains. For example, Microsoft Office files require users to enable macro commands (i.e., editing/content), while OneNote documents need them to click embedded links or files.
How to avoid installation of malware?
It is essential to treat incoming emails and other messages with care. Attachments or links present in dubious mail must not be opened, as they can be malicious. We recommend using post-2010 Microsoft Office versions since their "Protected View" mode prevents automatic macro execution.
Keep in mind that malware is not distributed exclusively through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise caution while browsing since fraudulent and dangerous online content usually appears legitimate/harmless.
Additionally, all downloads must be performed from official and verified sources. Another recommendation is to activate and update software by using genuine functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updaters can contain malware.
We must stress the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept updated. Security programs must be used to run regular system scans and to remove 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 Was Compromised Through A Legitimate Website" spam email letter:
Subject: Careful, it's important
I have very bad news for you. Unfortunately, your private data was compromised.
Your password was compromised through a legitimate website, and that led to events that I will explain to you now.
Using your password, our team gained access to your email. We analyzed all data and after going through found a vector for an attack.
That attack was a success. The result was that your machine was infected with a virus/backdoor. Our team uses individual approach to every victim, our success rate is very high.
We have gained access to the data, but the most interesting part that we are able to control your webcam and microphone.
And you are correct. We have a nice archive with exploding video content.
It's all good, but we are here to make money. So if you don't want those videos to be leaked, please follow the instructions.
You pay $750 USD, and there will be nothing to worry about. No chats, no photos, nothing. Every single file will be deleted and virus removed from your machine
Use Bitcoin to make the transfer. Wallet address is 1J7RYCYp8D7zYoAAR4HQDXujaRU6D9tDbf , it's unique and we will know that you made the payment immediately.
You have 2 days to make the transfer, that's reasonable.
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 "Password Was Compromised Through A Legitimate Website" sextortion 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. Cyber criminals distribute them in massive campaigns with the hopes that at least some recipients will fall for their scams.
Was my computer actually hacked and does the sender have any information?
No, all the claims made by the "Password Was Compromised Through A Legitimate Website" email are false. Meaning that neither was your device infected nor was any sensitive content stolen or recorded.
How did cyber criminals get my email password?
There are several potential reasons. The most likely being that you had been a victim of a phishing scam. For example, you may have entered your account log-in credentials into a phishing website or site, e.g., one mimicking an email account sign-in page, requiring verification/confirmation through email credentials, bogus registration forms with this data, etc.
Alternatively, cyber criminals could have obtained the log-in credentials through a data breach on your end. It is least likely that this information was stolen through a breach to a service provider.
I have sent cryptocurrency to the address presented in this email, can I get my money back?
No, cryptocurrency transfers are virtually irreversible since their transactions are practically untraceable.
I have provided my personal information when tricked by a spam email, what should I do?
If you have provided your log-in credentials – immediately change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support. If you have undisclosed other private information (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, 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/reading an email will not trigger any system infection processes. Devices are infected when malicious attachments or links are opened/clicked.
I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?
If the opened file was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) – most likely, yes – your device was infected. However, you might have avoided compromising your device if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .one, .pdf, etc.). These formats may need extra actions to jumpstart infection chains (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking embedded files/links, etc.).
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?
Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating nearly all known malware infections. It must be stressed that running a full system scan is paramount – since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems.