Social Media Platforms Impersonated in New Scams

June 24, 2020

Abnormal Security has observed attackers impersonating major social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to steal the login credentials of employees at enterprise organizations. In the past two months, we have seen a 60% increase for several organizations with key social media presences.

Overview of the Social Media Attacks

These attacks impersonate popular social media platforms to deliver phishing emails to influential users of each platform by impersonating Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, in an attempt to extract login credentials.

Here are examples of the attacks we've observed on various platforms.

Instagram Impersonation Scams

Attackers are impersonating a notification from the company. This notification aims to create a sense of urgency for the recipient by claiming their account contains content that violates Instagram policy and copyright law, and the recipient's account will be deleted permanently within 48 hours. The email contains a link to an appeals form that recipients are instructed to fill out, ostensibly to prevent this account deletion.

The email states that is this was an error, the recipient can appeal it by following the link included in the email. That link, of course, leads to a phishing page where the user inputs their credentials.

Facebook Impersonation Scams

Attackers here are also impersonating an automated message from Facebook with a similar template. This notification again intimidates the recipient by stating they have received a number of complaints and that Facebook has had to unpublish the user's page.

Again here, the attackers provide a landing page where the recipient can appeal the copyright infringement.

Twitter Impersonation Scams

In a recently uncovered Twitter scam, attackers are sending emails from a lookalike domain they've registered, where the "i" in Twitter is replaced with a lower-case "L". The body of the email contains a similar pattern to the Facebook and Instagram emails—the email claims the user's account has been suspended for violating Twitter rules, though they state the user is being suspended from creating new accounts. A form is also available to appeal the suspension.

In each of these emails, the social media platforms are impersonated and the body of the message contains urgent language, pressing the user to take action or their accounts will be deleted.

Social Media Impersonation Emails Lead to Phishing Sites

The appeal form within each email directs recipients to false login pages hosted on lookalike domains.

In the Instagram attack, the attackers created a fake Instagram login page where the username at the top and on the confirmation button appears to be different for each email recipient.

The attackers orchestrated their Facebook attack slightly differently. The user must be logged into their Facebook account since the link to the fake login form is located on a Facebook notes page, which can be created by any user. IT's interesting to note that this landing page is made to look like the Facebook Help Center to further trick recipients.

This note leads to the fake login page, where the user inputs their credentials. This attack is particularly malicious for enterprises, given that personal Facebook accounts are linked to business profiles.

And the Twitter login page is hosted on the lookalike domain; at a casual glance, users would be hard-pressed to see that this is not the real login page and after entering their credentials, it would be too late.

Why Social Media Impersonation Attacks are Effective

Since the beginning of the year, social media impersonation attacks like these have affected a substantial number of Abnormal customers. Roughly 60% of all attacks observed this year occurred in the past two months. Affected industries include media conglomerates, talent agencies, print and digital services, and the hospitality sector. We believe that this uptick since COVID-19 began could be because attackers are taking advantage of their targets being more active on social media. These trends are expected to grow with other major co-occurring events.

A key reason these attacks are effective is the language used in the email body. In each case, the email claims the recipient has violated the terms of service for the platform and thus the platform has decided to suspend the recipient's account. The emails also provide an opportunity for the recipient to reinstate their account if they act within a certain period of time. Because of the urgency this creates, attackers are hoping the recipients will overlook suspicious signals and provide login credentials to the account. Once accessed, the attacker can make posts on behalf of the individual or organization, send messages, or use it to attack other accounts. In some cases, they can also hold account access for ransom, hoping that the organization will pay to reinstate the account.

To learn more about how Abnormal can protect your employees from these impersonation scams, request a demo today.

Blog purple building
Social media access can provide a lens into other parts of a person's life, making Facebook and Twitter unique when it comes to credential phishing campaigns. In this attack, cybercriminals targeted a specific individual who works at an organization that heavily...
Read More
Blog yellow calendar
Financial institutions are common targets for attackers because of the amount of money in their control. Access to a user’s sensitive information would allow an attacker to commit identity theft, as well as steal any money associated with the account. Many of...
Read More

Related Posts

Blog hiring cybersecurity leaders
As with every equation, there are always two sides and while it can be easy to blame users when they fall victim to scams and attacks, we also need to examine how we build and staff security teams.
Read More
Cover automated ato
With an increase in threat actor attention toward compromising accounts, Abnormal is focused on protecting our customers from this potentially high-profile threat. We are pleased to announce that our new Automated Account Takeover (ATO) Remediation functionality is available.
Read More
Email spoofing cover
Email spoofing is a common form of phishing attack designed to make the recipient believe that the message originates from a trusted source. A spoofed email is more than just a nuisance—it’s a malicious communication that poses a significant security threat.
Read More
Cover cybersecurity month kickoff
It’s time to turn the page on the calendar, and we are finally in October—the one month of the year when the spooky becomes reality. October is a unique juncture in the year as most companies are making the mad dash to year-end...
Read More
Ices announcement cover
Abnormal ICES offers all-in-one email security, delivering a precise approach to combat the full spectrum of email-borne threats. Powered by behavioral AI technology and deeply integrated with Microsoft 365...
Read More
Account takeover cover
Account takeovers are one of the biggest threats facing organizations of all sizes. They happen when cybercriminals gain legitimate login credentials and then use those credentials to send more attacks, acting like the person...
Read More
Blog podcast green cover
Many companies aspire to be customer-centric, but few find a way to operationalize customer-centricity into their team’s culture. As a 3x SaaS startup founder, most recently at Orum, and a veteran of Facebook and Palantir, Ayush Sood...
Read More
Blog attack atlassian cover
Credential phishing links are most commonly sent by email, and they typically lead to a website that is designed to look like common applications—most notably Microsoft Office 365, Google, Amazon, or other well-known...
Read More
Blog podcast purple cover
Working at hyper-growth startups usually means that unreasonable expectations will be thrust on individuals and teams. Demanding timelines, goals, and expectations can lead to high pressure, stress, accountability, and ultimately, extraordinary growth and achievements.
Read More
Blog yellow skyline
No one wants to receive an email from human resources that they aren’t expecting. After all, that usually means bad news. And when we think there may be bad news, cybersecurity training tends to fall by the wayside. Threat actors know this, and they’re taking advantage of human emotions.
Read More
Blog rising building
There is little doubt that business email compromise and other advanced email threats are causing significant damage–both financial and reputational—to organizations worldwide. Because these never-before-seen attacks contain few indicators of compromise, they evade secure email gateways and other traditional email infrastructure...
Read More
Blog purple person outline
Identity theft is not a joke, impacting more than 14 million people each year in the United States alone. Over the course of their lifetime, nearly one-third of all people will become victims of identity theft—often as a result of a corporate data breach. Once attackers have access to identifying information like your full name, address, date of birth, and/or social security number...
Read More