Malwarebytes unmasks new Skype phishing scam

Some goldfish being lured by fishing hooks
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Malwarebytes researchers have discovered a new scam being distributed via Microsoft-owned instant messaging service Skype.

The phishing attack manifests as a message from a Skype contact, and claims the user will be able to get a free upgrade to Skype Premium by following a link contained in the message.

However, the scam steals the user's account credentials and then goes on to deliver a well-known banking Trojan onto their computer.

While you may do everything in your power to keep your data safe, your friends and family might not be so prudent.

While Skype and other messaging services have long been a popular infection vector for cyber criminals, Adam Kujawa, a malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, claims this particular attack is unusual, as it checks the validity of a victim's credentials before proceeds.

In an upcoming blog post, Kujawa explains how he created a new account in the name of Sean Connery's character from Highlander, immortal Juan Sanchez villa-lobos Ramirez, in order to expose the scam.

"If you give them fake or incorrect login details, [the scam] will not proceed. So in order to test this scam without giving up my own personal information, I decided to create a new account...with the Skype name Villa-LobosRamirez," Kujawa said.

It is only once legitimate account details have been entered that the victim is taken to a page imitating the official Skype Download page, which will then attempt to install an executable file named "SkypePremiumSetup", or something similar.

A popup screen then appears, claiming the user's lifetime premium package is being activated. However, their computer is in fact being infected with a Trojan that can steal financial and online banking details.

Additionally, the victim's Skype account will now begin proliferating the scam, with a message similar to the one that originally reeled them in.

"The reality is that while you may do everything in your power to keep your data safe and secure from cyber criminals, your friends and family might not be so prudent. With that in mind, it is important that any communication that you are not certain is coming from someone you know [is] seen as suspicious," Kujawa advises.

"The key is to always be sceptical and [take] prudent security approaches with everything you come across. By double-checking the legitimacy of a single link, you could save yourself some serious heartache," he concludes.

Jane McCallion
Deputy Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.