New Emotet Phishing Campaign Pretends to be the IRS Delivering W-9 Forms

Phishing Campaign IRS W-9A newly documented phishing campaign demonstrates how timely themes can be impactful in creating a successful attack that gets the recipient to engage with malicious content.

As we approach this year’s deadline for filing taxes in the U.S. for 2022, security researchers from Malwarebytes have provided details of an IRS-themed phishing email received by their very own Senior Director of Threat Intelligence.

The email itself is fairly basic, appearing to be sent by the “IRS Online Center” with a subject of “IRS Tax Forms W-9,” shown below:


Source: Malwarebytes

The attachment is a zip archive (I’ve recently written about the increase in the use of these kinds of files to evade detection). Inside is a Word doc (because we all know that W-9 forms are Word docs, right?) that is a very suspicious 548MB in size.

The attack uses a macro within the Word doc to download and install Emotet.

And, in case you missed it, why is the IRS sending out a W-9 near tax time? Shouldn’t it be a W-2? This alone is a red flag for the average user. As is the bogus sender email address used, and the fact that the IRS doesn’t send out W-2s, W-9s, etc. via email anyway. All these kinds of factors are taught to users through Security Awareness Training designed to help create a sense of vigilance so that the “obvious” red flags are seen by the average user the moment the email is opened.

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Topics: Phishing

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