Fraudsters Sending Email, SMS Messages Linked to Tech Support Scams Hosted on the Cloud

Digital fraudsters are sending out emails and SMS messages that link to tech support scams hosted on popular cloud platforms.

Netskope detected several scams leveraging common services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud and Google Docs. For instance, one ruse used a fake Microsoft support page hosted on an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) object to trick users into calling in for technical assistance. The campaign then leveraged social engineering techniques to trick a user into handing over their payment card information.

In another scheme, threat actors used phishing and smishing to send out links to a presentation hosted in Google Docs. This presentation acted as bait, since it contained a malicious link.

Many of the attacks analyzed by Netskope enabled scammers to quickly rotate from one IaaS object to another using what appeared to be arbitrary names. The company noted that such a random naming method, which might use a domain generation algorithm, could help the tech support scams avoid detection. At the same time, actors can use compromised accounts or misconfigured object stores to host their payloads.

The Abuse of Microsoft Azure

From its experience, Netskope noted that it believes digital criminals are increasingly using the cloud to host threats such as tech support scams because of three benefits: cheap and dynamic hosting, the ability to bypass conventional content filters, and greater flexibility involved with creating convincing schemes. This could explain why attackers have been abusing Microsoft Azure in recent years.

Back in September 2018, for instance, AppRiver discovered that some criminals were abusing Microsoft Azure’s Custom Domain Name registrations to host credential phishing sites. Proofpoint detected phishing campaigns leveraging blob storage on Microsoft Azure infrastructure to deliver Hurricane Michael-related lures a month later. Then, in February 2019, MailGuard discovered a campaign employing fake pages hosted in Microsoft Azure to collect users’ login credentials.

How to Defend Against Tech Support Scams

Security professionals can help defend their organizations against tech support scams by leveraging a security information and event management (SIEM) tool, perimeter protection and other measures as part of a layered approach to email security. Organizations should also help educate employees about some of the most common types of ruses that circulate on social media and elsewhere on the web.

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David Bisson

Contributing Editor

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley...