We have been made aware of a targeted HR payroll phishing scam in which a threat actor uses an email to impersonate a senior employee asking for changes to their payroll account.
The emails directly target key personnel in the HR and Finance department. This is known as a business email compromise (BEC) attack, in which a threat actor attempts to trick a senior executive or budget holder into transferring funds or revealing sensitive information.
Without a suspicious URL and attachment, there are no obvious indicators of compromise, allowing the email to pass through filters and reach the target’s Inbox.
In the email, the threat actor uses the name of the impersonated staff member in the email ‘From’ field. However, threat actors often use popular webmail services like Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo to send the email. The email relies inherently on social engineering the target into redirecting payments into the threat actor’s account.
It is almost certain the threat actor has used social media sites such as LinkedIn to scrape data of personnel relating to HR and Finance departments to use in these targeted attacks.
It's important that organisations review their privacy settings and assess what information is posted across social and professional accounts.
Unlike standard phishing emails that are sent out indiscriminately to millions of people, BEC attacks are crafted to appeal to specific individuals, and can be even harder to detect.
It is imperative that organisations provide awareness surrounding this attack, particularly to those working in HR and Finance departments, and perhaps offer further training on how to spot a BEC attack. For example:
Think about usual working practices and financial transactions. If the email is from a person or organisation you don’t usually do business with, treat it with suspicion
Check the sender’s address. The ‘From:’ field may be different to the address
Look out for emails that appear to come from high-ranking personnel
BEC emails often use a sense of urgency, validate the urgency before acting
Furthermore, we offer a service called Security Awareness Training, or Staff Awareness Training, which focuses on risks and threats that employees may face but may not be currently aware of. The training can be our generic, 'off the shelf' training which offers a broad stroke of all threats, or we can tailor it to suit your business's needs.
Further reading and information on Security Awareness Training
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).