Voicemail Phishing & Friends: What to look out for this festive season

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As many of you would probably already know I work in the cybersecurity industry and this time of year we get hammered literally. It is like it gets to mid-November and the malicious actors come together for their year shindig to decide what terrible, mischievous things they are going to get up to while the rest of the world (including us security people – well that's what we hope anyway) are out  enjoying the holiday season. It’s this time of year that we get an avalanche of emails asking for quick money transfers, new voicemail messages and any other new scam they come up with I am guessing over a couple of drinks and a big feast that our scammed money pays for.

Cybercrime (which is just essentially just crime on a digital platform) is big business in many parts of the world and it is very successful. So, these malicious cybercriminals have gathered, they have planned, they have feasted and now its December 1st. Hold onto your hats, things are about to get a little bumpy. Your inbox is going to be swamped with emails both legitimate and scams, but you are going to be so busy you will barely notice that you are about to be duped. Look I get it, this time of year is ridiculous, people want everything finished now before everyone leaves for the festive break and we all get a bit swamped. We cut corners and do what is necessary to get things done. Fast.

Please don't do this, check your emails, make sure you follow the correct checks and procedures that are normal practise don't make a mistake that will make your festive season one, to remember for all the wrong reasons. Let's look at a scenario or two of what you might see and what you should do with them.

Scenario one – you get an email from a regular supplier asking you to pay an invoice but the bsb and account numbers have changed from the ones you have on file. Stop. Do not cut corners and just change the account and make the payment. Call the client directly (don’t reply to the email) and ask them to confirm that the account details have changed. If they are a little surprised by this, you should advise them they should get the email account checked as it has probably been breached.

Scenario Two – you get an email request from your bosses, boss (via an email that isn’t a company one or even in the company address book) asking you to do a quick funds transfer for a deal, so it doesn’t fall through. Don’t do it. Pick up the phone and call them. If you can’t reach them inform your security or IT team and get them to check it out for you. Notify your supervisor, indicate what you have done and that you will not be completing the money transfer until you can confirm the details/identity of the persons requesting it. I know this can be scary, no one wants to be fired for not doing what they are asked.

You are more likely to get fired if you lose the company $50k or more than if you don’t transfer and it was a legitimate request. If you explain the reasoning and the fact that you had followed the correct company procedures, I am certain your managers will be grateful you followed correct procedures.

Scenario Three – an email saying urgent voicemail message comes through on the 24th December at 11:45 am and you are finishing at noon for the day. The company is shutting up early for the break. Stop and think for a moment. You don't ever get voicemail messages to come through via email, you have a flashing light on the phone, this is a scam. Don’t click on the links, just delete or send through to IT to look at for you.

These three scenarios are just common ones I see all the time and I thought they would help you keep a lookout for them in the lead up to the festive season.

Some key take always from this is – Stop and think before doing anything, ensure you follow correct procedures and if you are unsure contact your support team. Ask them if it is legitimate, yes, they will want to leave as well but I am sure they would want to leave for the holidays 10 minutes late than have to spend most of the break instead rebuilding the entire systems after a cryptovirus gets in. 

Hopefully, you all take it easy over the festive season and get to enjoy a long break incident-free. As always let me know your thoughts, share some common attacks you have seen lately and help everyone have a great break as we make our way into 2020 (I can’t believe it is almost 2020 already – where did 2019 go).

Till next time… 

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