Check Out These 5 Interesting and Eye-Opening Malware Phishing Examples with Real Images to Learn From!
Malware and phishing are a hackers’ favorite cocktail combination, as this mix works best to defraud people. Malware-based phishing attacks use phishing techniques to deliver malware to victims’ devices.
Phishing: It’s a technique in which the attackers impersonate themselves as a legit company or person to deceive victims. People put their trust in phishing messages and take actions that lead them to a cyberattack.
Malware: Any malicious codes and software used for hacking are known as malware. It includes viruses, worms, trojan horses, keyloggers, spyware, ransomware, rootkit, adware, etc.
In malware-based phishing attacks, hackers hide malware in files and links that look authentic and come from a trustable source. Most of the malware phishing attacks are performed via emails, SMS, social media, and fake websites. Let’s understand the malware phishing concept with these five real-life examples.
Malware Phishing Example 1: Email Attachments
You get an email that looks like it’s coming from a well-known company, a charity organization, government, or someone you know ( like your friends, relatives, boss, neighbors, colleagues, vendors, etc.). Hackers try to sound as genuine as possible. They attach malware in email attachments such as PDF files, Microsoft Office files, folders, images, etc. When you download such an attachment, the malware gets installed on your device.
In the below example, hackers have sent a malware-laden phishing email in Amazon’s name. The email talks about the payment status of an order, and there’s a purchase receipt attached to it. Now it is obvious that I am not aware of any such transaction, so I would be curious what order this email is referring to.
Just to make sure my money is not deducted for the wrong order; I would click on the receipt to read the order details. But the PDF is containing malware. As soon as I download the PDF, it installs viruses on my computer!
This type of malware phishing trick becomes successful because the hacker tries to trigger curiosity and panic in their victims. And then victims download the attachment in a hurry, without giving it much thought.
Malware Phishing Example 2: Password Protected Attachments
Hackers send you attachments that are password protected and provide the password for you to access them. As these attachments are coming from a person/entity you trust, you would be tempted to open them. You may be wondering why the document is password protected—that’s a sneaky little trick to get the attachment past virus scanners on email servers. They encrypt and password-protect the document so the virus scanner can’t see what’s inside it!
Check out the example below.
Notice that the attachment looks like a nonthreatening Microsoft Word document. But it has a malicious macro (executable code) included. Imagine if a recruiter gets such an email, they won’t suspect anything unusual and are likely to open the resume. And when they download it, their anti-virus software won’t warn them or block such an attachment as it is password protected.
Malware Phishing Example 3: Use of Social Media
For malware-based phishing, hackers use social media as well. They hack a person’s social media profile and send a malware-infected attachment to the victim’s contact list. It is understandable that if you receive a private message from your friend, relative, or colleagues, you are going to take it seriously and open it.
Check out this example. One day, I got a message on Facebook messenger from my cousin.
Now, it is obvious that I’d take it seriously and try to play the video to investigate the matter. Such videos ( or any type of files, images, or software) contain malware. As soon as you open, play, or download them, the malware gets downloaded on your device.
Luckily, in this case, I called my cousin first and asked about the message before clicking the video. She got shocked and said that she hadn’t sent it and her account must have been hacked. She also posted this on her timeline and warned her entire friend list not to open any message coming from her profile.
Malware Phishing Example 4: Trojan Horse
Sometimes hackers make a malicious program which is known as a trojan horse and use phishing techniques to deliver it. The minus point for trojans is that they can’t work until users download and install them and also provide them all the necessary permissions. Trojans can’t automatically get installed and corrupt the system like viruses.
But why would any sane person install them? That’s why hackers use phishing techniques. They showcase software and applications that look genuine to lure victims into installing them. You think you are installing a legitimate software/app, but instead, you are installing a dangerous trojan horse.
- anti-virus software,
- anti-spyware software,
- flash media player,
- the new version of a browser,
- popular apps like Zoom, Skype, etc.
- a free version of a paid software,
- interesting games, etc.
Here’s how a trojan looks.
As you can see in the above software installation window, it seems like you are downloading the Windows firewall, which is made to detect and remove trojan spy! However, when you click on “Enable Protection,” it asks you to install it and permission to access your device. As soon as you do it, the trojan takes over your computer.
Malware Phishing Example 5: SMS Phishing
Just like emails, hackers use SMS to distribute malware. You think the SMS is coming from a legit company or person, but when you click on the given link or attachment, the malware gets installed on your phone.
Check out another real-life malware-based phishing example.
In the above example, the recipient might think the SMS is coming from Walmart, and they have won a gift card. Especially if the victim is a regular Walmart customer and frequently gets texts from Walmart regarding different deals and products, they might not suspect anything wrong. But as soon as they click on the link, the virus or any other type of malware takes over your phone! (Such links are used for credential-stealing attacks, too. Check out this article to know more: https://websitesecuritystore.com/blog/credential-phishing-attacks-and-prevention-tips/
Final Words on Malware Based Phishing Attacks
There are many ways to deliver malware into a victim’s computer. But phishing works best because hackers just need to play psychological games with people to pull it off. Sending an email or SMS doesn’t cost anything, while other malware-spreading methods are expensive and time-consuming. In Malware based phishing attacks, hackers try to generate an emotional response in people, like anger, panic, frustration, curiosity, surprise, etc. If they are successful in doing so, victims won’t think rationally and instantly take action like clicking the link or downloading the malware-laden attachments. Therefore, be vigilant while downloading anything from emails, SMS, social media, and websites. And if you receive an unusual message from someone you know, contact them personally to confirm the validity of the message before taking any action.
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