Netcraft has seen a large increase in survey scams impersonating well-known banks as a lure. These are often run under the guise of a prize in celebration of the bank’s anniversary, though in some cases a reward is promised just for participating.
These scams first came to Netcraft’s attention around 16 months ago, when businesses that were particularly useful during lockdown such as supermarkets, mobile phone networks, and delivery companies were targeted. The expansion of these attacks to use banks as a lure started in October 2021. To date we have seen over 75 distinct banks used as lures for these survey scams, with a global spread including banks from US, UK, Asia, and the Middle East.
Netcraft has to date identified nearly 10,000 websites used in the distribution of the FluBot family of Android malware. As detailed in our previous articles on FluBot, these sites are unwittingly hosting a PHP script that acts as a proxy to a further backend server, allowing otherwise legitimate sites to deliver Android malware to victims. When visited by the intended victim, a “lure” is displayed that implores them to download and install the FluBot malware.
The most common lure themes are parcel delivery and voicemail messages, where the user is told to install the malicious app to track a parcel or listen to a voicemail message. One particularly interesting lure took advantage of FluBot’s infamy, by offering a fake “Android security update” that claimed to protect against the malware family. Users installing this “security update” would instead be infected with FluBot.
Most sites distributing FluBot malware also host legitimate content, suggesting they were compromised by the operators of this malware distribution network, without the knowledge of the site operator. While the use of unrelated domains makes the lures less convincing, as compared to domains specifically registered for fraud, it allows the malware distribution network to operate at a much larger scale.
These affected sites all have one factor in common: they run self-hosted WordPress instances. Netcraft believes the operators of this malware distribution network are actively exploiting well-known vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins and themes to upload malicious content onto insecure sites, joining a growing list of threat actors doing the same.
FluBot has built up a community of compromised Android phones in the UK since April and in the past 24 hours has commenced monetising them by sending overlays for British Banks.
FluBot first appeared in 2020, targeting mainly Spanish banks, but recently it has spread its reach, with Australian, German and Polish banks all affected within the last few weeks. UK banks are now firmly in its sights, with HSBC and Santander the first to be affected, and Lloyds and Halifax following shortly after.
Netcraft’s research into the Android banking malware FluBot confirms that its operations are expanding rapidly, with a spike in the number of malware distribution pages deployed, and finance applications affected in greater numbers.
In recent days new overlays have been distributed that target a number of Polish and German banks, only days after news that FluBot has begun to target Australian banks.
FluBot is distributed in the first instance using text messages, containing links to so-called “lure” pages: web pages unintentionally hosted by compromised web servers, commonly impersonating parcel tracking services, or voicemail notifications. Lure pages attempt to induce visitors to download the malware.
The Netcraft Browser Extension now offers credential leak detection for extra protection against shopping site skimmers.
With brick-and-mortar shops around the world closed due to COVID-19, consumers turned to online businesses to fulfil their shopping needs. According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index report, US online spending in June was $73 billion, up 76% from $42 billion last year. Even with restrictions lifted, research commissioned by Visa suggests that 74% of Britons who shopped online more often during the lockdown will continue to do so.
Netcraft currently blocks over 6,000 shopping sites which contain skimmers, and even large companies such as British Airways, Ticketmaster and Puma have fallen prey to these attacks in the past.
When you visit a shopping site, the Netcraft extension will evaluate all requests made by the web page. If a request is found to be sending credentials to a different domain, the extension will block the request to prevent your data from being stolen. A block screen will notify you about the request and provide information about the malicious behaviour that was detected. Only card number leaks are currently blocked, but other types of credentials may be enabled in future updates.
For example, if you check out using your credit card on exampleshoppingsite.com but your card details are sent to examplebadsite.com, the extension will block the request. This checking is done locally and securely in your browser – no sensitive information is sent to Netcraft.
If you already have the Netcraft Extension installed, your browser will update it automatically.
Our iOS app protects against online threats, with new attacks blocked within 15 minutes of being identified as fraudulent by Netcraft. It offers a 28-day free trial of all features, after which a monthly or annual subscription can be purchased for $1.99 or $9.99 (£1.99 or £9.99).
You can use the app without a subscription to report suspicious sites to Netcraft with just a few taps, and automatically report URLs in SMS and iMessages from unknown senders.