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WhatsApp Hijack Scam, Here's All You Need To Know

 

By posing as a friend and asking for SMS security codes, scammers are continuing to target WhatsApp users and hijack their accounts. The con has been around for years, yet victims have continued to fall for it, with many sharing their stories on social media. Users should never give out their security codes to anyone, even if they appear to be a buddy, according to WhatsApp. 

If users receive six-digit WhatsApp codes that they did not expect, they should be concerned. When setting up a new account or signing in to an existing account on a new device, such codes are frequently seen. However, if the code is obtained unexpectedly (without the user's request), it could be a scammer attempting to gain access to your account. 

The fraudster would then send you a WhatsApp message asking for the code. The most essential thing to remember is not to share the code, as the message appears to be from a legitimate friend or family member in most circumstances, even though the account has already been hacked. 

One victim, Charlie, told the BBC, "I got a WhatsApp message from my good friend Michelle, stating she was locked out of her account. She stated she sent the access code to my phone instead of hers by accident and that I could just screenshot it and send it over." In actuality, Charlie had given the scammer the code to his own account. 

He told the BBC, "I guess I fell for it since we all know how annoying technology can be and I was eager to help. I didn't realise what had happened for a day." Charlie stated that he had deleted WhatsApp and would no longer use it. 

The hijacker can pretend to be you and send messages to your friends and family using a stolen account. They might act as if you're facing a financial emergency and beg your contacts for money. It also provides them with the phone numbers of your contacts, allowing them to try the six-digit code trick on fresh victims. By gaining access to your account, the fraudster will be able to see sensitive information in your group chats. 

WhatsApp advises users to be cautious and not reveal their One Time Password (OTP) or SMS security code to anybody, even friends and relatives. Citizens can also enable two-step verification for added security.

Fake Chrome App is Being Used as Part of a Cyberattack Campaign

 

According to researchers at cybersecurity company Pradeo, a new Android malware has been discovered that imitates the Google Chrome software and has already infected hundreds of thousands of smartphones. The hazard has been labeled a "Smishing Trojan" by the researchers. 
 
According to the researchers, the false Google Chrome app is part of a smartphone attack campaign that uses phishing to steal your credit card information. By downloading the fake software, the device becomes a part of the attack campaign as well. 

“The malware uses victims’ devices as a vector to send thousands of phishing SMS. We evaluate that the speed at which it is spreading has enabled it to already target hundreds of thousands of people in the last weeks. ”, said the researchers in their ‘Security Alert’ post on their website. 

The assault begins with a simple "smishing" gambit, according to Pradeo researchers: targets receive an SMS text telling them to pay "custom fees" to open a package delivery. If they fall for it and press, a message appears informing them that the Chrome app needs to be updated. If they accept the order, they'll be directed to a malicious website that hosts the phony app. It is, in reality, ransomware that is downloaded into their phones. 

After the ostensible "update," victims are directed to a phishing list, which completes the social engineering: According to the study, they are asked to pay a small sum (usually $1 or $2) in a less-is-more strategy, which is of course just a front to collect credit card information.

“Attackers know that we’re accustomed to receiving alerts of all types on our smartphones and tablets,” Hank Schless, senior manager of security solutions at Lookout said. “They take advantage of that familiarity to get mobile users to download malicious apps that are masked as legitimate ones.” 

The campaign is especially risky, according to Pradeo researchers, because it combines an effective phishing tactic, dissemination malware, and multiple security-solution bypasses. “The attack could be the work of a regular level but very ingenuous cybercriminal,” Pradeo’s Roxane Suau said. “All the techniques (code concealment, smishing, data theft, repackaging…) used separately are not advanced, but combined they create a campaign that is hard to detect, that spreads fast and tricks many users.”

Smishing Campaign: Roaming Mantis Attacks OS Android Systems With Malware

A smishing campaign which goes by the name Roaming Mantis is imitating a logistics firm to hack SMS messages and contact list of Android users from Asia since 2018. Last year, Roaming Mantis advanced its campaign impact by sending phishing URL messages and dynamic DNS services that attacked targets with duplicate Chrome extension "MoqHao." From the start of 2021, Mcafee Mobile Research Team has confirmed that the group is attacking users from Japan with the latest malware named SmsSpy. 

The corrupted code infects Android users that use either one of the two versions that depend upon variants of operating systems used by attacked systems. The phishing technique incorporated here shares similarities with earlier campaigns, still, the Roaming Mantis URL has the title "post" in composition. A different phishing message impersonates to be a Bitcoin handler and then takes the target to a malicious site (phishing) where the victim is requested to allow an unauthorized login attempt. 

McAfee reports, "During our investigation, we observed the phishing website hxxps://bitfiye[.]com redirect to hxxps://post.hygvv[.]com. The redirected URL contains the word “post” as well and follows the same format as the first screenshot. In this way, the actors behind the attack attempt to expand the variation of the SMS phishing campaign by redirecting from a domain that resembles a target company and service." Different malware, as a characteristic of the Malware distribution program, is sent which depends upon the Android OS variant that gained login to the phishing site. In Android OS 10 and later variants, malicious Google Play applications will get downloaded. In Android OS 9 and earlier variants, malicious Chrome applications will get downloaded. 

Because the infected code needs to be updated with each Android OS update, the malware actor targets more systems by spreading the malware that finds OS, instead of just trying to gain a small set with a single malware type. "The main purpose of this malware is to steal phone numbers and SMS messages from infected devices. After it runs, the malware pretends to be a Chrome or Google Play app that then requests the default messaging application to read the victim’s contacts and SMS messages," said McAfee.

Hackers Target Rogers With a New SMS Phishing Campaign

 

Rogers Communications Inc. is advising Canadians to be wary of SMS phishing scams that promise to refund consumers for a system outage that occurred earlier last week. Users were unable to use cellular voice and data networks after the network experienced a nationwide blackout a week ago. Threat actors are also sending fraudulent text messages to recipients, instructing them to click on a link to receive a rebate. 

An SMS circulated on social media falsely reports that “R0GERS WIRELESS INC.” (spelled with a zero instead of an O) is providing a $50 credit to anyone who clicks on a link provided.

Rogers Communications Inc. is a communications and publishing corporation based in Canada. With substantial additional telecommunications and mass media infrastructure, it mainly functions in the areas of cellular broadcasting, cable television, telephony, and Internet connectivity. Rogers' offices are located in Toronto and Ontario. While the business dates back to 1925, when Edward S. Rogers Sr. formed Rogers Vacuum Tube Company to market battery less radios, the current venture dates back to 1960, when Ted Rogers and a partner purchased the CHFI-FM radio station, and then became part-owners of a consortium that created the CFTO television station.

Rogers replied that it never sends credit alerts via text message and advises anyone who receives one to ignore the embedded link. Furthermore, the credit amount will vary based on the cellular plan and will not include a registration link, according to the company. 

According to Ericsson, the 16-hour wireless system blackout on April 19th was triggered by a software update that caused devices to be disconnected from the network. A message from Rogers CTO Jorge Fernandes to customers the next day said, "We have addressed the software issue and our engineering and technical teams will continue to work around the clock with the Ericsson team to restore full services for our customers." 

The links in these texts all point to websites that are hosted on an IP address rather than a domain name. It's unclear what information was phished because the pages have all been taken offline, but it's definitely Rogers customers' personal and account information. 

Rogers is aware of the scam and has advised users to "forward the content of the SMS to 7726 (SPAM), to register it for investigation/blocking from the network," according to a tweet from the company.

What are Smishing Attacks? How to Prevent Them?

 

Smishing is a cyber assault that utilizes SMS text messages to delude its victims into giving sensitive data to a cybercriminal. Sensitive data incorporates your account name and password, name, banking account, or credit card numbers. The cybercriminal may likewise implant a short URL link into the text message, inviting the client to tap on the link which in most cases is a redirect to a pernicious site. Smishing is identified with two other 'smishing' cyber assaults, phishing and vishing. 

Cybercriminals today are essentially inspired by monetary benefit. They create code intended to obfuscate your sensitive data for benefit. At the point when they acquire this information, they may hope to sell your compromised credit card or credentials on the dark web. They may likewise utilize sensitive information to open an account in your name or hold your information ransom in exchange for a large pay-out. 

Back in May 2018, Fifth Third Bank clients were the targets of a smishing assault. The assailants claimed to represent Fifth Third Bank. They contrived a plan to caution clients that their accounts were locked. Within the body of the text message, they gave a link to the clients to open their accounts. The link took the clueless client to a phony webpage that seemed to be like Fifth Third's genuine site. The phishing site prompted the visitors to enter their user name and password, one-time code, and PIN codes to open their account. The cybercriminals then utilized the stolen account data to expunge almost $68,000 from 17 ATMs across three states. 

Some of the ways to prevent smishing attacks are: 

• Try not to react to text messages that demand private or monetary data from you. 

• On the off chance that you get a message that has all the earmarks of being from your bank, financial institution, or other entity that you work with, contact that business directly to decide whether they sent you a genuine solicitation. Review this entity’s policy on sending text messages to clients. 

• On the off chance that a text message is encouraging you to act or react rapidly, pause and consider the big picture. Recall that crooks utilize this as a strategy to get you to do what they need. 

• Never reply to a dubious text message without doing your research and checking the source.

Users on Alert as Text Scamming Attack on The Rise


The fear of scam messages may seem far now, and even distant.  With the rise of well-engineered and sophisticated attacks in recent time,  the threat of scam messaging attacks may seem low, however, they are still a persistent danger. SMS (short message service) scams are similar to email phishing attacks, they work through social engineering attacks. Popular as "Smishing" (SMS and phishing), the attacks try to lure victims into providing information and user access, which benefits the hacker.  

Present SMS hacking techniques 
The SMS scam warns users of a new, packaging delivery, which is considered to be better and effective than before. If the user replies, the hacker steals user data for money theft, identity theft, or stealing sensitive organization data.  In one particular attack, the message leads the victim to a website and then rewards with a small gift (a smartphone, for instance) in return, for filling a survey. The attackers ask for credit card credentials for shipping and then steals the money.  Similarly, another SMS scam variant uses fake bank messages for its attack. The hacker lures the victim to give away their banking credentials, and if the victim does so, the attacker uses Emotet malware to infect their devices.  Whereas in some scams, the victim is threatened with violence if he doesn't pay the ransom. The approaches in all these attacks may be different, but they all share a common goal, which is to gain access to personal information. In all these attacks, the victim is asked to open a link or go to a website, the hackers use these malicious links and websites to steal user data.  Some other scam campaigns use relief funds, food aids, bank, covid-19, or jury duty to fool the victim. It is quite difficult to grasp the content of these attacks, however, in the future, these attacks would be even more sophisticated and dangerous, with brand new content.   

Why these attacks are successful. 
Scammers are constantly striving to attack smartphone users, which is a part of a larger threat campaign series. The hackers here have the upper hand, first, they always come up with new techniques to attack users, secondly, in most of cases, victims are not even aware of these attacks. About social engineering, the initial stage is misdirection, where the user is excited and they become assured about whatever texts they receive.  For example, "you've got a text but there's a problem with your credit card."  A different variant of this theme delves into people's likes or interests to get their attention.  An attacker might use an emotional text to trigger user action.  This is why people often receive scam texts which have- Fire! Politics! Lottery! Crime! Hackers use these event references to trigger user action and make them click on a link, or open a website.  

How to protect yourself from scams.  
It is crucial for users to know how to stay safe from these scams and attacks. Application security, mobile data protection, and mobile phone security are the key components here.  Here's what a user can do: 

1. Avoid responding to suspicious messages, especially texts that ask you to click a link. Contact the source to confirm whether the information is authentic.  You may get a text from the delivery service, asking you to click the link to confirm, visit the website instead.  

2. Do not get tricked by messages or brands that seem to be genuine. Fake branding is one of the most common ways of fooling users.  

3. If possible, always report a scam text to be safe in the future. Most importantly, do not think that scamming is a threat of the past. 

In reality, these attacks are on the rise, evolving daily with new techniques. As an organization, staff must undergo training to identify and report scam texts and to be always prepared for the challenges.