Unit 42 is a research division of Palo Alto Networks

Their researchers have discovered a sneaky and surprisingly effective phishing campaign that appears to have been launched in January of this year.

When targeted by this attack, a user will get an email containing an abraded document containing the name of a legitimate cybersecurity provider. like Unit 42 of Palo Alto Networks.

How do you fool users?

The name of a known cybersecurity provider alone generates a certain amount of trust in the reader. In addition, the email contains a password-protected document, which naturally is the kind of security that a company in the security business would utilize.

Most of the emails contain subject lines that indicate the recipient is entitled to a refund or a free security product upgrade. That builds on the trust already established and gives the user an enticement for opening the enclosed file that has been password protected "with their security in mind."

Naturally, nothing could be further from the truth. If the user unlocks the protected file, he or she unwittingly enable the macros embedded in the file, which will then activate and install the NetSupport Manager. The manager is surprisingly a completely legitimate remote access control program but used here for nefarious purposes.

As long as it's running quietly in the background, it gives the people who sent the email a secret inroad into the machine and the network it is connected to.

Not only is the use of a known cybersecurity firm name a sneaky bit of social engineering, but the use of a perfectly legitimate remote connection tool is as well. That is because no antivirus software on the planet would flag the tool, which gives the hackers using it in this way a completely untraceable means of gaining access to a wide range of networks.

Our perspective

Be on your guard against this threat. It's insidious, and the folks behind it could do a lot of harm to your company.

~ As Hill Street Blues' Sgt. Esterhaus always advised: "Hey, let's be careful out there! " ~


Meanwhile, check out this report

This free executive report may give you insights into how to build your business with safe IT environments: 10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business and 1 Easy Way to Find Them

The author

Thanks for reading this short post. For more tips on thriving with small business technology, check out the other blog posts at DWPia Blogs. I am also available on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Cybersecurity Expert, Small Business Technology Consultant, Managed Services Provider, Managed IT SupportI am Denis Wilson, President and Principal Consultant for DWP Information Architects. I help professionals grow their business by building a foundation of rock-solid information solutions for smaller healthcare, insurance, financial, legal, and nonprofits firms in Ventura County and San Fernando Valley. And have created cost-effective IT solutions, for over 20 years, specializing in cybersecurity and regulatory compliance. I am also a published author and speaker, working extensively with a variety of organizations, as well as providing small business technology education programs through business and professional associations. This just in: I will be speaking regularly at California Lutheran University's Center for Nonprofit Leadership starting in September.

Contact me if you would like me to speak at your association