Suspicious links originating from the US and France were luring Indian users into revealing important personal information, stated a report. These messages are asking users to submit an application for the disbursement of income tax refund, with a link that directs users to a webpage looking like the income tax e-filing web page.
The targeted banks in the campaign include the State Bank of India, ICICI, HDFC, Axis Bank and Punjab National Bank, revealed an investigation by New Delhi-based think tank CyberPeace Foundation along with cybersecurity services firmAutobot Infosec.
The report added the campaign is collecting personal as well as banking information from the user. However, it is found that the website link with the SMS has no domain name and is not linked with the Indian government. All IP addresses associated with the campaign belong to some third party dedicated cloud hosting providers, said the report.
It asks users to download an application from a third party source instead of Google Playstore. The application asks to provide administrator rights and unnecessary access permissions of the device.
On opening the link http://204.44.124[.]160/ITR, users are redirected to a landing page that is mostly similar to the government income tax e-filing website.
How does it harm customers?
By sharing banking information, the user is at the risk of incurring a massive financial loss.
The whole campaign uses plain http protocol instead of the secure https. This means anyone on the network or internet can intercept the traffic and get the confidential information in plain text to misuse against the victim.
What information this website is collecting?
On clicking the green 'Proceed to the verification steps' button, users are asked to submit personal information such as:
Date of birth,
Banking information like account number, IFSC code, card number, expiry date, CVV/CVC and card PIN.
After submission of data, users are redirected to a page where they are asked to confirm the entered data.
Clicking on the green 'confirm' button directs users to a fake banking login page almost similar to the official one.
It asks for the username and password for online banking.
After these details are entered, for the next step, users are asked to enter a Hint question, Answer, Profile password and CIF number.
Once submitted, a mobile verification section with instructions provided to download an android application (.apk file) appears, to complete the ITR verification.
Here, users are deliberately instructed to grant all device permissions to the particular application, the investigation revealed.
The application, called Certificate.apk, starts downloading upon clicking the green 'Download' link.
The overall layout and functionalities of the web page used in the campaign are similar to the official e-filing site to lure laymen, said the report.
(With input from agencies)