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cPanel ‘Account Verification’ Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Most website owners and managers will be familiar with the web hosting control system cPanel. cPanel allows users to quickly and easily manage all aspects of their websites via an easy-to-use graphical interface.

Because of its powerful site management capabilities, gaining access to a site’s cPanel is a desirable goal for online criminals.

The phishing email below is just one of many attempts, both crude and sophisticated, to get site owners to part with their cPanel login details. The message claims that due to a ‘planned software upgrade’, users must sign in to cPanel to re-confirm their accounts.

Clicking the login link in the message opens a fake web page that asks users to log in using the familiar cPanel login dialogue box. After supplying their details and clicking the ‘login’ button, users will receive a message advising that they have successfully confirmed their accounts.

Alas, their login details will then be collected by criminals and used to hijack their websites. The criminals can use the hijacked accounts to set up bogus web pages that can be used in further phishing and malware campaigns. They can also access the site’s email accounts and use them to send spam and scam messages in the site’s name. In fact, the scammers can gain complete control of the site and use it for a variety of fraudulent purposes.

Of course, many site owners and managers would be savvy enough to quickly recognise the email as fake. But, as site ownership and management has become more accessible, there is likely to be at least a few less experienced users who fall for the ruse.

A hijacked site is a valuable commodity to criminals, so the scam will prove worthwhile for the scammers even if only a few people fall for it.
A hosting company is very unlikely to send out an unsolicited email asking users to upgrade or verify their accounts by clicking a link. If you receive such an email, do not click any links or open any attachments that it contains.

Example

Subject: Your cPanel Account Verification

Dear client,

Our Technical Services Department are carrying out a planned software upgrade. Please login to re-confirm your account.
To login, please click the link below:login.cPanel.net

This instruction has been sent to all our customers and is obligatory to follow.Thank you,Customers Support Service.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer