The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility has issued an alert warning of a new phishing scam after a number of attorneys received a fake notification of action phishing email.
The notification of action phishing email appears to have been sent from attorney regulatory agencies and requests the recipient clicks on a link or opens an infected email attachment to view the details of a new legal complaint. If the attachment is opened or the link is clicked, crypto-ransomware will be installed on the email recipient’s device. Files will be locked and a ransom demand will appear demanding payment in exchange for a decryption key.
Alerts Issued After Spate of Phishing Emails Received by U.S Attorneys
The Center for Internet Security also issued a cyber-alert recently after becoming aware of new email scams that were targeting U.S lawyers. Lawyers in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Tennessee have all been targeted.
Last month, more than 50 lawyers reported receiving fake emails about new discipline investigations. The emails appeared to come from state disciplinary bodies and bar associations. The emails were designed to cause concern and prompt the recipient to click on links to find out more information.
In contrast to many phishing emails, this campaign appears to be targeted. The emails contain personal information about the recipient which may fool some attorneys into thinking the messages are authentic. The emails are particularly well written, which makes it harder to identify them as phishing scams.
While personal information is included, that information is likely to have been taken from attorneys’ websites or social media websites such as LinkedIn.
Some of the emails indicate a complaint has been filed against the recipient, some claim that the individual’s bar membership has lapsed. The links contained in the emails direct users to a spoofed website where a drive-by malware download occurs.
How to Identify a Notification of Action Phishing Email
Since the latest emails have been personalized and are well written, identifying them as fake is a little harder than with standard phishing emails.
To prevent a drive-by download of malware it is important to ensure that browsers and plugins are kept up to date. Email links from unknown recipients should not be clicked, and even if the email appears to be genuine care should be exercised.
If a notification of action phishing email appears to have come from a regulatory body, the recipient should visit the appropriate website by entering in the URL directly into their browser. Hovering the mouse arrow over the link will show the real address that that the recipient will be directed to if the link is clicked. Oftentimes this will display an alternate URL.
Anti-spam email solutions such as SpamTitan offer an additional level of protection. SpamTitan blocks 99.97% of spam emails from being delivered.