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Implausible Phishbait, But Someone May Bite


Scammers are impersonating FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, in an attempt to deliver malware or steal SharePoint credentials, Help Net Security reports. FINRA issued an alert warning that the phishing emails use the names of real FINRA executives.

“FINRA warns member firms of a widespread, ongoing phishing campaign that involves fraudulent emails purporting to be from FINRA officers, including Bill Wollman and Josh Drobnyk,” FINRA’s alert states. “These emails have a source domain name “@broker-finra[.]org” and request immediate attention to an attachment relating to your firm. In at least in some cases, the emails do not actually include the attachment, in which case they may be attempting to gain the recipient’s trust so that a follow-up email can be sent with an infected attachment or link, or a request for confidential firm information. In other cases, what appears to be an attached PDF file may direct the user to a website which prompts the user to enter their Microsoft Office or SharePoint password.”

The emails are terse but well-written. FINRA includes an example that purports to come from the organization’s Vice President, Head of Office of Financial and Operational Risk Policy Bill Wolman.

“I hope you are well and keeping safe,” the email says. “I have been asked to send the attached document for [Firm Name] to you. They require immediate attention. This is important and needs to be attended to before the end of this week. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

This email would appear suspicious to someone who’s trained to recognize phishing tactics, but it’s urgent-sounding and vague enough that it could convince someone to open the attachment just in case.

“FINRA reminds firms to verify the legitimacy of any suspicious email prior to responding to it, opening any attachments or clicking on any embedded links,” FINRA continues.

FINRA has also asked the domain registrar to shut down broker-finra[.]org, although Help Net Security notes that the attackers can easily register a new domain and continue their campaign. One of the most effective long-term defenses against phishing attacks is new-school security awareness training. If your employees know how to thwart these attacks, then your organization will be better prepared to face new phishing campaigns.


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