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Attackers Abuse Facebook Ad Manager in Credential-Harvesting Campaign

Attackers are utilizing the power of the Facebook brand by using emails that look like they're coming from Facebook Ads Manager.

 

Attackers are capitalising on the power of the Facebook brand by sending emails that appear to be from Facebook Ads Manager. The plan is to trick victims into providing their credentials and credit card information on a Facebook lead generation form. 

According to a report published on Tuesday by Avanan's security research team, attackers are sending phishing messages that seem to be urgent warnings from Meta's "Facebook AdManager" team. The messages claim that the victim is not following the company's ad policies and that the ad account will be terminated if the target does not appeal to the fictional violation. 

The "appeal form" link takes visitors to a credential-harvesting site that collects passwords and credit card information using a real Facebook lead-generation form.

An intriguing aspect of the campaign is that, rather than using a harvesting site hosted on a suspect IP somewhere, attackers are exploiting the Facebook ads system to create malicious lead-generation forms. This method kills two birds with one stone: For starters, it deceives many automated checks for malicious links used by email platforms. The Avanan team refers to using legitimate sites as the Static Expressway.

Jeremy Fuchs, cybersecurity researcher for Avanan explained in the report, "Hackers are leveraging sites that appear on static Allow Lists. That means that email security services have broadly decided that these sites are trustworthy, and thus anything related to them comes through to the inbox."

Furthermore, using Facebook Ads forms provides a high level of realism for any of Facebook's eight billion advertising users who are already familiar with the Ads Manager platform and the lead-generation forms it generates.

"For the end user, seeing that their Facebook ad account has been suspended is cause for concern," Fuchs said. "Since it’s a legitimate Facebook link, the user would feel confident continuing on."

While the sites used in this credential harvesting campaign appeared to be legitimate, Fuchs discovered a red flag in the phishing messages: These are typically sent from Outlook accounts such as pageguidelinesfacebook@outlook.com.

Furthermore, the physical address footer in the emails is incorrect. However, if users did not notice these details, they could easily be duped by this hoax. According to earlier this year's research, brand impersonations, or brandjacking, like these elevated by 274% last year as attackers continue to peddle their scams by appearing to come from trustworthy sources. Facebook is a popular platform for phishers to imitate. 

According to a Vade report released this spring, Facebook was the most impersonated brand last year, edging out perennial favourite Microsoft for the top spot. Email attacks increased by 48% in the first half of 2022, as per Abnormal Security research, with more than one in ten attacks impersonating well-known brands. So far in 2022, 256 individual brands have been impersonated, with LinkedIn and Microsoft appearing to be the favourites.
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