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New Phishing Scam Targeting Direct Deposits


New Phishing Scam Targeting Direct Deposits

We just received cyber security updates regarding two new cyber threats spreading through phishing email. The first is an attack that will launch ransomware on your email inbox – this means all of your email gets encrypted and is not accessible! What’s worse is, there is no recovery in place except to pay the ransom. The only option to protect against this type of attack is to add cloud backup services for email, which we are now offering to all of our clients to better protect their email since that data is typically not on the server to be backed up with server backup.

The other threat is a phishing attack targeting employers and employees paychecks. These scams are affecting employers nationwide without regard to their payroll portals or payroll service providers: “Employers beware: Companies are experiencing a wave of phishing scams that target employee paychecks. Here is the scenario:

  • An employee receives from a company email account e-mail that mimics a familiar and trusted company service or resource, such as an e-signature request or a request to complete a survey.
  • The e-mail asks the employee to click a link, access a website, or answer a few questions.
  • Then it directs the employee to “confirm” his or her identity by providing his or her complete log-in credentials. Skeptical employees who question the request via reply e-mail receive a prompt response purporting to verify that the employee should complete the steps contained in the link.
  • The threat actors then use the employee’s log-in credentials to access payroll portals, reroute direct deposits to other accounts, and wreak other havoc upon the employer’s network.

In some versions of the scam, hackers access employee e-mails to request a password change from the employer’s payroll service and then use the new log-in credentials to change direct deposit instructions.”

The threat actors are doing substantial due diligence on the social engineering side of things, and these e-mails look real. In many circumstances, they are effectively spoofing the sender’s account, and employers are learning of the scam when employees begin reporting that they did not receive their direct deposits. By then, the damage has been done.

In addition to diverting funds, the scam creates a data breach for the employer and triggers notification obligations. Failure to take prompt action may result in penalties and liability to unsuspecting employers. Employers may want to immediately take the following precautions to avoid security breaches as a result of these phishing scams:

  • Alert your workforce to this scam.
  • Direct employees to forward any suspicious requests to the information technology or human resources departments, rather than replying to the e-mail.
  • Instruct employees to refrain from supplying log-in credentials or personally identifying information in response to any e-mail.
  • Ensure that log-in credentials used for payroll purposes differ from those used for other purposes, such as employee surveys.
  • Enforce (or, where necessary, establish) multifactor authentication requirements.
  • Review and update the physical, technical and personnel-related measures taken to protect your sensitive information and data.”

I suggest you send the following to your employees, friends, and family. You’re welcome to copy, paste, and/or edit:

There is a new Direct Deposit phishing attack you need to watch out for. It’s a sophisticated scam that starts with an official-looking email that asks you to click a link and access a website. Next, they ask you to confirm the data with your real username and password. Last, they use your info to access payroll portals, and reroute your direct deposit amounts to bank accounts owned by the bad guys. The lesson here is to never give anyone your credentials in response to an email…Think Before You Click!

Educating your team is a very important. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

Contact Biztek Solutions at (800)353-5430.