The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this week warned US election officials of potential invoice-themed phishing attacks meant to steal their login credentials.
Such attacks have already hit US election officials in at least nine states, and the FBI expects the phishing attempts to continue and even ramp up.
The phishing emails take the recipients to websites where they are prompted to provide their login credentials. Seemingly legitimate, the sites were designed to harvest the victim’s username and password.
Emails seen to date shared similar attachments, employed compromised email accounts to send the phishing messages, and were sent close in time, suggesting they were part of the same operation.
According to the FBI, threat actors will likely increase their efforts ahead of the 2022 US midterm elections, but proactive monitoring of election infrastructure could help mitigate the threat.
Much of the activity seen by the agency took place in October 2021. On October 5, a threat actor targeted election officials and representatives of the National Association of Secretaries of State with phishing messages sent from two email addresses, one being the compromised account of a US government official.
On October 18 and 19, emails were sent from addresses apparently belonging to US businesses to target county election employees and an election official, respectively. Microsoft Word document attachments were used in both attacks.
To mitigate the impact of such threats, network defenders are advised to educate employees on phishing, mark external emails with a banner, have employees forward suspicious emails to IT departments, use strong spam filters, require unique passwords for all accounts, employ multi-factor authentication, and keep all systems and software updated.