PayPal Spoofed in Credential Phishing Attack

January 15, 2021

PayPal is a well-known money transfer application, used often between friends and family as well as for small businesses. Because PayPal accounts are often linked to credit cards and bank accounts, the company itself is a commonly impersonated brand from attackers hoping to steal that information from unsuspecting victims.

In this attack, attackers use a method known as spoofing to impersonate PayPal, leading recipients to a phishing page.

Summary of Attack

  • Platform: Office 365
  • Bypassed Email Security: Ironport
  • Victims: Employees
  • Payload: Malicious Link
  • Technique: Spoof

Overview of PayPal Spoofing Attack

This email appears to be sent from PayPal (service@paypal.com, which is a real PayPal domain), telling recipients that their account has been flagged and limited. However, authentication fails for this message and the actual sending domain is ‘dion.ne.jp’, a domain that has no correspondence to PayPal. The attacker is attempting to gain the trust of the recipient by making it appear as though PayPal has sent the email. This method—spoofing a real domain—can deceive the recipient into thinking the email is legitimate and coming from PayPal.


It may look as though the link within this email will take the recipient to paypal.com, but the attacker uses a concealed link in an attempt to fool the recipient. When clicked, the link in the email actually leads the recipient to a phishing page at ‘arferdimpex.biz’. This landing page looks nearly identical to the real paypal.com website and asks the recipient to input their email or phone number and password.

For the casual observer, it'd be difficult to notice that this is a phishing site, as the only true indicator is the suspicious URL. If the recipient does click on the concealed link and input their credentials into this fake PayPal page, the attacker will then gain access to their PayPal account and all of the sensitive, personal information inside. For those unlucky victims with money sitting in the account, the attacker would be able to transfer those funds to an account under their control, or use the banking and credit card details to make purchases.

Why the Spoofed PayPal Attack is Effective

The attacker’s meticulous work in creating this fake PayPal website makes this attack very effective. The landing page may look nearly identical to the actual website, but the domain, ‘arferdimpex.biz’, is, of course, not a PayPal domain. Without scrutinizing the real email address or the domain, the recipient may not notice that these are not actually from PayPal. Furthermore, because PayPal is commonly used for payment across the Internet, recipients who receive this may try to quickly fix their supposedly flagged and limited account, and therefore overlook signals that this is an email attack.

Abnormal was able to detect this malicious email due to a variety of factors, including the unusual sender domain and the suspicious link. In addition, the unusual authentication statuses and email sign off indicate that it may be malicious—causing Abnormal to block it before it reached end users.

To learn how Abnormal can block malicious emails for your organization, request a demo today.

Previous
Blog yellow logo code
At Abnormal, the problems we are trying to solve are not that much different from those being tackled by other organizations, including large enterprises. What is unique to startups are the additional constraints placed on the solution space, such as the amount...
Read More
Next
Blog black lights
Because they contain the keys to the financial kingdom and allow attackers direct access to money, banks tend to be some of the most impersonated organizations. In this attack, attackers mimic an automated notification from BB&T in order to steal recipients' online banking...
Read More

Related Posts

B 10 15 21
With Detection 360, submission to threat containment just got 94% faster, making it incredibly easy for customers to submit false positives or missed attacks, and get real-time updates from Abnormal on investigation, conclusion, and remediation.
Read More
Extortion blog cover
Unfortunately, physically threatening extortion attempts sent via email continue to impact companies and public institutions when received—disrupting business, intimidating employees, and occasioning costly responses from public safety.
Read More
Blog engineering cybersecurity careers
Cybersecurity Careers Awareness Week is a great opportunity to explore key careers in information security, particularly as there are an estimated 3.1 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs. This disparity means that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the situation, sending more targeted attacks and seeing greater success each year.
Read More
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