Tax season is no doubt a happy time for many Americans. The extra boost in cash from paying taxes makes everyone’s wallet feel great! However, where there is money, there are unwelcome guests. While many are preparing their taxes and W-2 forms, hackers are busy developing malware to infect and steal information from unsuspecting victims. It is important that we understand how these hackers aim to get access to banking information.
What to Look For?
The majority of these attacks come from email spam. By making the emails appears to be from large firms such as Paychex and ADP, these hackers aim to deceive people into opening and downloading malicious Microsoft Excel files. One downloaded, the Excel file will execute one of the most effective banking Trojans, Trickbot. While these attacks usually target businesses, that does not mean an individual will not come across this attack. The cybercriminals do their best to disguise the email as friendly, going as far as to replicate the names and emails of HR services and accounting companies. By making the email appear to be from someone the recipient knows, or is aware of, the guard of that person is lowered, making them more likely to open attachments. Just one unaware person can allow Trickbot to enter the company and spread to every computer on the network.
What is Trickbot?
Trickbot is malware specifically designed to silently infect a computer and steal sensitive data such as, banking credentials. Once the credentials are acquired, the Trojan proceeds to setup wire fraud directly from your own computer. Once infected, hackers have complete control over your machine, and can spread the attack to any other machines that are on the network. Trickbot is a top ranking Trojan and is still in development, adding new “skills” to the virus, making it even more destructive.
What Can I Do to Stay Safe?
In order to keep yourself protected during tax season, follow these safety tips:
- The IRS only uses snail mail as a means of communication. Therefore, if you receive an email, phone call, text message, social media message, do not respond.
- If you receive an email and it seems suspicious, do not click, open, or download any attachments or links. If the email is from someone you know, it is best to verify with the sender before opening any attachments, ZIP files, or RAR files.
- Disable macros by default in all Office applications. If a downloaded office attachment asks you to enable macros immediately close the excel and delete the file. Many malicious files need macros enabled in order to execute, and this includes Trickbot, which uses excel to inject its malicious code.
- Use updated antivirus protection and ensure you are protected against Trickbot.
- Make sure your computer is up to date and has no pending updates.
By taking these extra steps you can ensure that you do not become the victim of Trickbot.