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In a new blog post from PhishMe a recent IRS phishing scam is discussed. PhishMe has identified that the scam is a data-entry phishing attack, a classic tactic for stealing passwords and other credentials.


It’s about the time of year when people should be receiving tax refunds from the IRS, which gives attackers a great opportunity to craft phishing emails. PhishMe users recently reported a round of phishing emails purporting to be from the IRS about tax refunds.

Key takeouts from the post include:

Thanks to a coding error on the attackers’ part, we can specify how much we want back for our refund, as they defined this field as a text box. If the user wasn’t already tipped off that this is fake by the misspellings in the URL and data entry page, the ability to enter any figure into the refund field should be another indicator that this isn’t actually from the IRS.

We often see phishing attacks repeat themselves, and when investigating the content of the phishing website, we found the same exact text and format in an IRS phishing webpage in an archive that was dated March 14th, 2006.

Google Chrome blocked some of the domains as being phishing websites. To an extent, this can really help vulnerable users from getting compromised, but it should be viewed as a layer of protection in addition to a properly trained user base.

In a nutshell, even though monitoring/detection and prevention technologies have existed for a long time, the data entry attack has not died yet. Since the main vulnerability that the attackers exploit here is the human weakness, the best way to manage this threat is to augment a security technology strategy with proper employee training, education and user experience.