Cybercriminals will always be on the attack and will always coming up with new ways to snatch valuable, confidential information from their victims. Their latest trick: impersonating government officials to obtain your Office 365 credentials.

In the latest cyberattack news, criminals are now posing as the U.S Supreme Court. The phishing attack pretends to deliver subpoenas in hopes that recipients will click on an embedded link. The email tells victims that it contains a writ issued by the Supreme Court, to compel them to attend a hearing. To view the subpoena, victims are tricked into clicking on the link.

The link then takes the recipient to a page that appears identical to an Office 365 login page. When the user enters their Office 365 information, it gives hackers what they need to obtain confidential information from the victim’s Office 365 accounts. Even worse, they to use the same credentials to break into other accounts that belong to the victim. If the victim is using the same password for different online accounts, their online information is at risk of being compromised. This needs to serve as a reminder to use different passwords across multiple accounts. There are plenty of applications out there that can help store these passwords for you, so there is no excuse not to create different passwords for your accounts.

Not only are we seeing dangers to the victim, but this could negatively impact other people the victim does business with. The compromised credentials can be used to launch secondary attacks on other employees, customers, or third-party vendors. The quick and mindless action of clicking a link can compromise the information of your entire company. Think of the jobs that could be destroyed: your employer, your coworkers, yours!

For people who are busy and must process things quickly, the email passes the eye test. It appears to be a legitimate email, and it includes a strong call to action, enticing people to click the link without putting much thought into their decision.

Beyond the content of the email, the scam is effective because it passes two fully functioning CAPTCHA pages. A CAPTCHA is a program that protects websites against bots by using tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot. Upon clicking the ‘I’m not a robot’ button, a real CAPTCHA image test pops up, which would allow a user to believe the email comes from a legitimate source.

However, although it appears that the scam would be impossible to detect, there are some clear signs that disprove the legitimacy of the email. Although the scammer’s name was labeled as “Supreme Court” in the email, the actual email address that was used was something unrelated. On the CAPTCHA page, the domains do not appear legitimate. There was also a grammatical error on the CAPTCHA page that should draw an immediate concern. If a person has not identified the scam up to this point, they could have also caught the fake domain name that posed as an Office 365 credential page.

This brings us to a very important lesson that needs to be emphasized in our growing technological world: Understand what you are clicking on. Every action you take, every link you click on, could have disastrous consequences for not only yourself, but also your business. Taking the time to verify the source of a link and to understand where you are on the web can keep your personal information from falling in the wrong hands. You may believe you are risk-free and immune to attacks for a variety of reasons: your business is small; you have never been attacked before so why would you now? But the reality of the situation is that the number of attacks on smaller businesses are growing. In fact, According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, more than 40 percent of cyberattacks are currently targeted at small businesses

And the number of scams out there are growing too. It is important to stay informed on all the possible ways cybercriminals are coming after your personal information. For instance, some of the more recent scams have been inspired by the recent COVID-19 outbreak. As remote working becomes more prevalent in today’s fast paced business world, scammers are going to continue targeting businesses of all sizes. It is crucial for the security of your organization that you understand how criminals are coming after your information so you can prevent an attack before it even comes your way.

Beyond obtaining confidential information, cybercriminals are coming after your money. Whether you own a small business or a large one, a security breach is going to cost you. If they get their hands on your personal information, they may require a payment in the form of a ransom. For most small businesses, every dollar in their budget counts, and they simply cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars on the spot. Add on the lost revenue for closing your doors and the hiring of professional services to help deal with the situation. A simple mistake, such as clicking on an unknown link, can be the difference between your business thriving or shutting down.

Taking this a step further, there are costs to your business that go beyond the financial side. This will undoubtedly have a negative brand impact for your organization. Although larger organizations can afford to take a hit in brand reputation, small organizations rely on their customer base to keep their doors open. They cannot lose the trust of their customers that they have worked so hard to obtain.