Report: Fraudsters targeting taxpayers in lead-up to US tax deadline

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“Social engineering via phishing emails continues to be the preferred infection method among both cybercriminals and nation-state threat actors. The potential for damage is serious and the malware allows threat actors to gain full control over a victim’s machine and steal sensitive information from users or their employers. In this research, we demonstrate how the attackers are leveraging the U.S. tax season to infect targets at will,” said Assaf Dahan, senior director and head of threat research at Cybereason.

In 2020, the IRS estimates consumers were defrauded of $2.3 billion due to schemes like this. But, along with so many other changes to the digital space since the beginning of the pandemic, phishers and other fraudsters have also become more sophisticated in their hacking attempts. Experts say the phishers use remote access Trojans within the emails to take control of computers once links inside the fraudulent emails are clicks.

For protection, experts suggest consumers employ two-factor authentication on their devices, do not click any links or open attachments in emails like these, and ensure security software is up to date and running on all consumer devices.

“The use of various techniques such as steganography, storing payloads on legitimate cloud-based services, and exploiting DLL sideloading against a legitimate software makes these campaigns very difficult to detect. The sensitive information collected from the victims can be sold in the underground communities and used to carry out all manner of identity theft and financial fraud,” added Dahan.

More data from the report can be accessed here.



Kristina Knight is a freelance writer based in Ohio, United States. She began her career in radio and television broadcasting, focusing her energies on health and business reporting. After six years in the industry, Kristina branched out on her own. Since 2001, her articles have appeared in Family Delegate, Credit Union Business, and with Threshold Media.