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Microsoft Accounts Attacked by Russian-Themed Credential Theft


The Ukrainian conflict is being capitalized by malicious emails notifying Microsoft users of "unusual sign-in activity" from Russia. While there are valid concerns that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict would launch a global cyber warfare conflagration, small-time cybercriminals are stepping up their efforts amid the crisis. 

According to Malwarebytes, which discovered a slew of spam emails referencing Russian hacking activities. Phishing emails to Microsoft users have begun to circulate, warning of Moscow-led account hacking and attempting to steal credentials and other personal information. The messages' subject line reads, "Microsoft account unusual sign-in activity." The text in the body is as follows:  

“Unusual sign-in activity
We detected something unusual about a recent sign-in to the Microsoft account
details
Country/region: Russia/Moscow
IP address:
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2022 02:31:23 +0100
Platform: Kali Linux
Browser: Firefox
A user from Russia/Moscow just logged into your account from a new device, If this wasn’t you, please report the user. If this was you, we’ll trust similar activity in the future.
Report the user
The Microsoft account team”

According to Malwarebytes' Tuesday research, the emails then include a button to "report the user" as well as an unsubscribe option. When you click the button, a new message is created with the short subject line "Report the user." Microsoft account protection is referenced in the recipient's email address. Using email to answer could expose users to a variety of threats. 

The researchers explained, “People sending a reply will almost certainly receive a request for login details, and possibly payment information, most likely via a bogus phishing page. It’s also entirely possible the scammers will keep everything exclusively to communication via email. Either way, people are at risk of losing control of their accounts to the phishers. The best thing to do is not reply, and delete the email.” 

As usual, the spam contains red flags in the form of grammatical problems, such as misspellings like "acount." To put it another way, it's not a highly sophisticated attempt, but it's clever. Climbing curiosity (or terror) is a catnip for social engineers, as it is with any significant world event. 

“Given current world events, seeing ‘unusual sign-in activity from Russia’ is going to make most people do a double, and it’s perfect spam bait material for that very reason. [The emails] (deliberately or not) could get people thinking about the current international crisis. Being on your guard will pay dividends over the coming days and weeks, as more of the below is sure to follow,” stated researchers. 

The email is targeted just at Microsoft account holders, but the good news is that Outlook is sending it directly to spam.. However, the firm pointed out that, “depending on personal circumstance and/or what’s happening in the world at any given moment, one person’s ‘big deal’ is another one’s ‘oh no, my stuff.’ That’s all it may take for some folks to lose their login, and this mail is perhaps more salient than most for the time being.”