Microsoft warns accounting companies of focused assaults as Tax Day approaches

Accountants are being warned to be on their guard from malicious hackers, as cybercriminals exploit the frenzy to arrange tax returns for shoppers earlier than the deadline of US Tax Day.

US Tax Day, which falls on Tuesday April 18 this yr, is the day on which revenue tax returns for people are as a result of be submitted to the federal government.

Inevitably it is a busy time for accounting companies and bookkeepers who’re feverishly accumulating obligatory paperwork from their shoppers. And, based on a warning from Microsoft, cybercriminals have additionally been busy – taking benefit are benefiting from the approaching deadline to unfold malware.

As safety consultants at Microsoft warn, accounting and tax return preparation companies have been focused in a malware marketing campaign that disguises itself as an e-mail from a shopper.

A part of the e-mail reads:

I apologize for not responding sooner; our particular person tax return ought to be easy and never require a lot of your time. I imagine you’ll require a duplicate of our most up-to-date yr’s paperwork, akin to W-2s, 1099s, mortgages, curiosity, donations, medical investments, HSAs, and so forth which I’ve uploaded under.

The e-mail continues to share a hyperlink the place it claims a password-protected PDF will be downloaded containing confidential documentation.

Downloading the ZIP archive discovered on the hyperlink, and accessing its contents, nevertheless, initiates the obtain of additional malicious content material, which in flip installs a duplicate of the Remcos Distant Entry Trojan (RAT) – opening a backdoor via which a malicious hacker can doubtlessly achieve entry to the goal’s pc and community.

With Remcos efficiently delivered to the sufferer’s PC, an attacker might seize management of the pc to steal information, and transfer laterally all through the organisation’s community.

Stolen information might later be exploited by the criminals to realize entry deeper into an organisation or assault the corporate’s companions, or just be provided on the market on the darkish net if a ransom just isn’t paid.

It is sensible for all organisations, not simply these concerned in getting ready tax returns for shoppers, to take nice care when dealing with e-mail attachments and hyperlinks, particularly when delivered alongside unsolicited emails.

Firms ought to shield themselves with a layered defence, maintain their techniques patched in opposition to vulnerabilities, and observe protected computing practices to scale back the possibilities of turning into the sufferer of an assault.

Editor’s Observe: The opinions expressed on this visitor creator article are solely these of the contributor and don’t essentially replicate these of Tripwire.