Australian news sites espionage scam
Hackers are posing as Australian News Corp websites in a sophisticated year-long cyber scam
Alexander Pan avatar
Written by Alexander Pan
Updated over a week ago

A sophisticated year-long cyber espionage scam involving hackers posing as media employees from Australian News Corp websites has been detected and is a big safety risk for those targeted by it.

To make sure everyone stays safe and vigilant, we'll be taking a look at what this scam is, what to keep an eye out for, and what to do if you think you've been targeted by this scam. Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.

What is this news site cyber espionage scam?

Hackers send out emails in which they pose as employees at fictional media outlets, such as the 'Australian Morning News', or as employees at real publications, such as 'The Australian' and 'The Herald Sun'.

Recipients of this scam email will be directed to fake news websites via a link, which can implant harmful code onto their devices. This will then allow the hackers to harvest sensitive technical info about them.

This is a sophisticated version of a phishing scam in order to steal personal, confidential and financial information from unsuspecting people. Here's an example of a scam email in which a hacker is posing as a media employee:

What to do to stay safe

The first and most important thing is to not click on any link or open any attachments from people or organisations you don't know.

Generally speaking, phishing emails from scammers are easy to spot because of the poor spelling and grammar used. However, these emails are getting more difficult to spot and can come off as almost genuine. As such, companies now follow a standard policy where they will not call, SMS, or email you to:

  • Ask for your user name, PIN, password or secret/security questions and answers.

  • Ask you to enter information on a web page that isn't part of their main public website.

  • Ask to confirm personal information such as credit card details or account information.

  • Request payment on the spot (e.g. for an undeliverable mail item or overdue fee).

Anyone who does this is almost certainly a scammer.

Other ways to protect yourself from phishing emails and scammers of the sort, as well as tips to stay vigilant, include:

  • Be cautious if messages are enticing or appealing (i.e offers that seem too good to be true - they most certainly are), or threaten you to make you take a suggested action.

  • Before you click a link (in an email, on social media, instant messages, or other web pages), hover over that link to see the actual web address it will take you to (usually shown at the bottom of the browser window).

    • If you do not recognise/trust the address, try searching for relevant key terms in a web browser. This way you can find the article, video or web page without clicking on the suspicious link.

  • If you're not sure about a suspicious message, talk it through with a friend or family member and check its legitimacy by contacting the business (using contact details from the official company website).

  • Use a spam filter to block deceptive messages from getting to your inbox.

  • Remember, your financial institution and other large organisations (such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, PayPal and others) would never send you a link asking you to enter your personal details.

  • Stay informed on the latest threats and find information on the Australian government’s Scamwatch website.

Related reading:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Image credit: MyLastBite at Flickr

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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