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'Omicron Strain' Now a Topic Hackers are Using to Send Malicious Files to US Universities

Urian B., Tech Times

(Photo : Image from Mark König on Unsplash) ‘Omicron Strain’ Now a Topic Hackers are Using to Send Malicious Files to US Universities

Hackers are now attacking students at Vanderbilt University, the University of Central Missouri and even other schools through disguising emails containing malicious files as Omnicron related messages. 

New Phishing Attacks Take Advantage of Omicron Strain

Researchers along with the cybersecurity firm Proofpoint have now discovered a new phishing attack done through using concerns regarding the spread of the Omicron strain to steal victim’s credentials to gain access to their accounts at a number of prominent universities in the United States.

The emails, which were part of an attack Proofpoint researchers stated started in October but have increased in November, basically had information regarding COVID-19 testing on the new Omicron variant, according to the story by ZDNet.

COVID-19 Used in a New Phishing Technique

As per the article by TechRepublic, cybercriminals and threat actors used concerns regarding COVID-19 as a new phishing technique to lure victims ever since the pandemic started to make headlines during the first two months of 2020.

With the specific attack, however, cybercriminals are now spoofing the login portals of schools just like the University of Central Missouri, Vanderbilt University and more. With that, a number of them mimic generic Office 365 login portals while others are using legitimate-looking university pages.

Emails Include Lines Like ‘Attention Required’

As per the Proofpoint researchers findings, it is likely that the specific activity will increase over the course of the next two months as colleges and universities are providing and requiring their students, faculty, and other workers that are traveling to and from the campus during as well as after the holiday season to get tested.

In a number of cases, Proofpoint was able to find that the emails are actually redirecting potential victims to the actual websites of their university once their credentials were stolen. The emails typically come along with subject lines starting with “Attention Required” with statements including the COVID-19 Omicron Variant.

Read Also: Glaxo Covid-19 Antibody Treatment Found Effective For the New Omicron Variant, According to Latest Research

Increase in Phishing Attacks During the Start of the Pandemic

Thousands of messages have been sent using Omicron as a way to lure victims and the emails that typically have malicious files attached or come along with URLs that steal credentials to use for university accounts.

In a number of cases, Proofpoint found that attacks through attachments make use of legitimate but also compromised WordPress websites in order to host credential capture webpages. With that, a senior manager at Lookout, told ZDNet that during the start of the pandemic, there was already a number of malicious phishing activity centered directly around the virus tempting people with promises of information about shutdowns, increased government aid, and even self-testing apps.

From the start of Q4 2019 to the first quarter of 2020, Schless said that his company was able to witness a massive 87% increase in enterprise mobile phishing. To add, at the start of this year, Schless said that attackers changed their tune in order to deliver the exact same attacks along with the promise of information regarding vaccines and reopenings.

Related Article: COVID-19 ‘Manufactured’ Fear by Authorities? Yale Epidemiologist Speaks Up Against the Pandemic

This article is owned by Tech Times

Written by Urian B.

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