Dark Reading reports that thousands of college and university students are being targeted by cyber-attackers who are using a legitimate domain to impersonate Instagram and steal credentials of the users. The attack is able to evade security measures of Microsoft 365 and Exchange.

According to the report, “The socially engineered attack, which has targeted nearly 22,000 mailboxes, used the personalized handles of Instagram users in messages informing would-be victims that there was an ‘unusual login’ on their account.” The attackers also sent email messages to the victims from a valid email domain, which made it more difficult for users and security technology to identify it as malicious.

The email impersonating Instagram uses a familiar tactic to lure victims into believing it to be true: a sense of urgency. The email appears to come from Instagram’s support team and includes the sender’s name, Instagram profile, and email address. The user is then informed that “an unrecognized device from a specific location and machine…had logged in to their account,” and asked to click on a link asking them to “secure” their login details, which of course redirects the user to a fraudulent landing page that then allows the attackers to steal the user’s credentials.

The researchers from Armorblox who investigated the scam suggest that users watch out for social engineering cues, review all emails for any inconsistencies, and employ multifactor authentication and password-management best practices across both personal and professional accounts.

Photo of Linn Foster Freedman Linn Foster Freedman

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She is a member of the Business Litigation Group and the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team, and chair’s the firm’s Data Privacy and Security Team. Linn focuses her practice on…

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She is a member of the Business Litigation Group and the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team, and chair’s the firm’s Data Privacy and Security Team. Linn focuses her practice on compliance with all state and federal privacy and security laws and regulations. She counsels a range of public and private clients from industries such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine and charitable organizations, on state and federal data privacy and security investigations, as well as emergency data breach response and mitigation. Linn is an Adjunct Professor of the Practice of Cybersecurity at Brown University and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Roger Williams University School of Law.  Prior to joining the firm, Linn served as assistant attorney general and deputy chief of the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Rhode Island. She earned her J.D. from Loyola University School of Law and her B.A., with honors, in American Studies from Newcomb College of Tulane University. She is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Read her full rc.com bio here.