Beware: Election Phishing
Well, the 2020 election is just days away, and so far, any earth-shaking “Election Hacking” has mostly remained dormant. Sure, we saw the temporary hijacking of President Trump’s campaign website this week, but the big, bad “boogeymen” most of us expected have failed to surface thus far.
In the 19th Century, “Election Rigging” had more to do with the fact that individual ballots were not kept secret in American elections. This style of voting usually led to chaotic and often times, disputed elections results, that saw political campaign operatives accused of coercion.
Nowadays, in our digital “world without borders,” would-be election influencers have unencumbered access to voters which has made election interference the somewhat minor worldwide problem we have seen the past several years.
Although many warnings about disinformation campaigns have been blasted in the media over the past few months, another newer tactic that has been talked about far too little. This tactic, which involves domain spoofing of political action committee (PAC) websites to steal personal data from victims, may potentially make a huge impact in the waning days of the election cycle.
A recent report cites a new phishing campaign that involves emails that are designed to look like they came from a pro-Biden PAC and asks potential victims to click on a button on the message to verify their eligibility to vote.
One potential victim of the scam, a Harvard University graduate student by the name of Maya James, wound up conducting a Google search on PAC and learned that they were not a real entity.
“There was not a trace of them,” James relayed to the Associated Press. “It was a very inconspicuous email, but I noticed it used very emotional language, and that set off alarm bells.” After deleting the message, James posted social media warnings of the scheme.
Another spear-phishing campaign discovered just a few weeks ago has targeted supporters of President Trump with a banking trojan. The emails, which are designed to look like they came from a real PAC, refer to real sounding campaign issues and events, and infected victims with Emotet malware. The messages also included links that opened real web pages belonging to the impersonated PAC.
The malware's downloader is delivered via a Word file that is attached to the message. Emails were also sent that referenced Trump's decision to temporarily withhold World Health Organization (WHO) funding, pending the outcome of an investigation into the organization’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The attackers used Display Name Spoofing in this wave of messages to hide the sender's actual email address.
The sender email addresses spreading the WHO-themed phishing messages varied, but they all came from legitimate account's that have been compromised. This tactic helps cybercriminals pass through email authentication protocols.
Hackers have also began to pose as political fundraisers and pollsters as well as launch fake voter registration drives this election, with the intent of obtaining banking and personal information on victims.
The important thing to remember here is that these attacks are not targeting only Democrats or Republicans, they are targeting all Americans. So as the last few days before fall upon us, every American needs to be aware and vigilant this weekend as they open the emails in their inbox.
Written by Julio Rivera
Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. His writing, which is focused on CyberSecurity and Politics, has been published by websites including The Hill, Breitbart, Real Clear Politics, Newsmax, American Thinker, Townhall, The Washington Times and BizPacReview.
Edited by Michael Ding & Alexander Fleiss