Hackers Now Use QR Codes To Ensnare Users

16 August 2016

Hackers Now Use QR Codes To Ensnare Users

Copyright – Les Echos – Fabien Rech

Hackers have started sending fraudulent emails using QR code technology, masquerading as a national communications provider to get client usernames and passwords.

It is a first in the history of hacking. Vade Retro, a company that specializes in mailbox protection, recently announced it had detected the first use of fraudulent emails using QR codes — two-dimensional barcodes used to store digital information that can be deciphered by a smartphone.

The email in question contains a scannable image, but no fraudulent links likely to be detected by email services as potential “phishing,” i.e. scam messages sent by trusted third-parties. This new technique is similar to phishing, as the image contained in the email looks like it is coming from a well-known national communications provider. It offers the recipient reimbursement of a paid invoice and invites the user to scan a QR code.
Behind this code is a page hosted on a WordPress website that mimics the provider’s official page. The victim is prompted by the malicious website to enter their username and password and is then presented with an error message.

Snatching usernames and passwords

Meanwhile, the hacker can use these precious credentials to steal all kinds of personal data from the victim by logging on to the provider’s “real” site.
The hacker can also use the same username and password on other websites, as users sometimes choose the same combinations on other websites.

Verifying the legitimacy of a link

The hacked communications provider, whose name was not disclosed, told the French AFP news agency that they were aware of this new technique and that they were able to block it before it impacted clients.
The website lists all fraudulent URLs detected by Vade Retro. Thanks to this search engine, users can verify the legitimacy of a link in case of any doubt.
According to a company specialized in developing solutions for the protection of electronic data, 91% of attacks on data use phishing technology. Last November, Vade Retro published a blog article on the five most popular email phishing techniques used by hackers: breach of trust, false lottery, data update, call for donation and identity theft.

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