New email scam could infect your computer with malware

A new email scam is doing the rounds.

A stolen ID may have been used to set up an elaborate ASIC email scam designed to infect victims’ systems with malware.

MailGuard CEO, Craig McDonald said the email had been sent out to Australian businesses this morning, containing a type of malicious software designed to install malware on victims’ computer systems.

Experts from the MailGuard cybersecurity team said the mail was most likely to download a trojan or ransomware.

“The zero-day email appears to come from Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and claims to contain a company name renewal letter,” Mr McDonald said.

“But instead of coming from the legitimate ASIC site, asic.gov.au, it is sent from a newly-created austgov.com domain, which was registered in China.”

Mr McDonald said Chinese authorities are strict about domain registration requirements, so  anyone who wants to register a new domain requires an ID scan.

“This creates a high likelihood that a stolen ID was used by cybercriminals to set up the scam.”

An example of what the fake document looks like.

The domain is backed by a legitimate email infrastructure in order to trick email servers into accepting the fraudulent emails.

But those who follow the instructions and click the ‘Renewal letter’ link – likely persuaded by the government branding and professional-looking formatting – and are instantly at risk of malware.

Don’t get caught out by this.

The email contains the signature of Alexander Ward, a Senior Executive Leader at ASIC, but nobody matching that description appears to work at ASIC.

Fraud emails targeting Australians have been circulating in high volume over the past week, with separate well-designed scams impersonating MYOB and myGov recently.

MailGuard’s cybersecurity experts have also seen a proliferation of malware hosted on unsuspecting corporate entities’ SharePoint accounts recently.

Advice from ASIC on avoiding scams

ASIC’s website says recently scammers have been contacting registry customers asking them to pay fees and give personal information to renew their business or company name.

“These emails often have a link that provides an invoice with fake payment details or infects your computer with malware if you click the link,” the ASIC website says.

  • Keep your antivirus software up to date
  • Be wary of emails that don’t address you by name or misspell your details and have unknown attachments
  • Don’t click any links on a suspicious email.

MailGuard’s recommends these steps for avoiding being tricked by a fraud email

  • Check who it was sent by. Examine the sender or reply-to address and check that it hasn’t been sent from a similar, but recently-registered domain such as mailguard.com instead of mailguard.com.au
  • Beware of links in emails. Before you click anything, take a closer look by hovering your mouse over and checking the destination in your browser. If it doesn’t match, it is not legitimate.
  • Be aware that a reputable company or organisation will never use an email to request personal information. If you think there is a possibility it may be legitimate, type the real URL into your browser or contact the company directly.
  • Be alert for strange sentence structure, or phrasing uncommon to the apparent sender
  • Ensure your email security is up to scratch. A cloud-based, AI-based threat detection service such as MailGuard will protect your staff in real-time from targeted attacks, without the dangerous time-lag common with signature-based antivirus vendors.

Have you received any suspicious emails like this?

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