In a rather ironic twist, this phishing scam message uses the threat of phishing as a cover story designed to trick people into divulging their email account login details. The email, which purports to be from the IT Department for Microsoft Outlook, claims that new security updates are being implemented ‘due to the rate of phishing’.
It urges you to click a link to sign into the ‘IT Help server’ so that your mailbox can be updated. The message warns that, if you do not update your mailbox as requested, your account will be made inactive.
Of course, the email is not from Microsoft or any legitimate IT department. If you do click the link, you will be taken to a fake Microsoft Account login page and asked to supply your email address and password. But, alas, if you ‘login’ on the fake page, cybercriminals can collect your login credentials and use them to hijack your real Microsoft Account. Once they have gained access, the criminals can use your email account to launch spam and scam campaigns in your name. They can also access and take control of any other Microsoft services connected to the account.
Be wary of any email that claims that you must click a link or open an attached file to perform an account update or deal with a supposed account issue. It is always safest to login to all of your online accounts by entering the account address into your web browser or via an official account app.
Subject: HELP DESK
ATTN: Outlook Webmail Users,
New security updates need to be performed on our servers, due to the rate of phishing. Please CLICK HERE and sign in to the IT Help server for maintenance and update of your mailbox.
If your mailbox is not updated soon, Your account will be inactive and cannot send or receive messages.
On behalf of the IT department, this IT Alert Notification was brought to you by the Help Desk Department. please do not ignore this notification, because its very compulsory.
©2016 Microsoft outlook. All rights reserved.
Last updated: February 1, 2016
First published: February 1, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen