The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning about domains designed to spoof the Bureau's official website, fbi.gov. The alert lists more than 90 such fraudulent websites that have been registered recently.
“The FBI observed unattributed cyber actors registering numerous domains spoofing legitimate FBI websites, indicating the potential for future operational activity,” said the law enforcement agency. The list of fraudulent domains includes somewhat plausible examples, such as “fbihelp.org” and “fbifrauddepartment.org”, as well as more or less bizarre ones like “powerfulfbi.ninja” or “fbigiftshop.shop”.
For context, domain spoofing involves the creation of a website whose domain name has near-to-identical characteristics to the original. However, there will be some subtle differences, such as the threat actors changing a letter, symbol, or adding a word in the domain name. Another telltale sign will be that the website will use an alternate top-level domain (TLD) compared to the original, government-related websites in the United States, for example, which use the “.gov” TLD.
The goal of the cybercriminals is to use these webpages to wreak all manner of havoc, such as disseminating false information, gathering sensitive data from unwitting victims who have fallen for their ruses, or spreading malware. The gathered information typically includes account credentials, usernames, passwords, email addresses, and a range of other personally identifiable information that can then be utilized to carry out various forms of fraud and identity theft or be sold on the internet’s dark web bazaars.
And that’s what the FBI is worried about: “Members of the public could unknowingly visit spoofed domains while seeking information regarding the FBI's mission, services, or news coverage. Additionally, cyber actors may use seemingly legitimate email accounts to entice the public into clicking on malicious files or links.”
The Bureau, therefore, urges the public to remain vigilant and scrutinize any websites they visit and carefully inspect the emails they receive, regardless of whether they’re work-related or personal. Moreover, if they are interested in the FBI’s mission or information about its work, they should search for it using verified and trusted sources.
Beyond increased vigilance, you can also take additional protective measures to defend yourself from website spoofing attacks and their consequences.
- Do not respond to any unsolicited email requesting any kind of information, even if they seem legitimate.
- Use a reputable up-to-date security solution, which will protect you from most threats, including blocking known malicious websites and blocking potentially malicious downloads.
- Make sure that all your programs and your operating system are patched and up to date to prevent black hats from using any security flaws to infiltrate your systems.
- Use multi-factor authentication to mitigate the chances of hackers gaining access to your accounts even if your credentials get compromised.