Open-Source Software and Fake Jobs: A New Tool in Phishing Attacks

Explore the insidious world of fake job phishing scams and discover how cybercriminals exploit job seekers. Learn how to enhance online security.

Open-Source Software and Fake Jobs: A New Tool in Phishing Attacks
Photo by Derek Oyen / Unsplash

Every year, hackers grow more sophisticated in the types of phishing attacks used to target unsuspecting victims. Although open-source software has revolutionized the digital landscape, cybercriminals have recognized the potential to use the platform's tools for malware attacks. Hackers exploit users' trust by posing as legitimate companies and targeting with strategies like lucrative fake job offers.

Read on to learn more about the dangers of fake employment offers and cybersecurity tools, like VPNs, available to protect job seekers.

Open-Source Software Dangers

Although open-source programs are not inherently dangerous, there are well-known security risks. One method involves leveraging legitimate open-source projects to embed malicious code or create convincing replicas of trustworthy applications. By injecting malicious code into open-source projects, attackers compromise the security of users who unknowingly download the compromised software.

When vulnerabilities are found in open-source software, users may publicly share the issues and attract hackers. A public database called the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) allows anyone to share known open-source problems. 

Phishing attacks exploit open-source tools and allow fake websites to mimic trustworthy platforms. The counterfeit websites trick users into entering sensitive data, including passwords and personal demographics.

Malicious Fake Job Offers

In 2022, the corporation Axle Infinity fell victim to a hacking scheme that cost $540 million. The cause? One of the company's employees responded to a malicious LinkedIn job advertisement. The offer document sent to the engineer included malware that breached the network.

Cybercriminals post fraudulent job offers on legitimate employment websites, such as Indeed and LinkedIn. The fake job postings often have a few key features in common:

  • Lucrative salaries
  • High benefit packages
  • Well-known company names  

The unsuspecting job seekers, eager to secure the position, will click on the application link and willingly share personal details, including contact information and financial data. Once the hackers obtain this information, they can use it for identity theft, financial fraud, or even launch targeted phishing attacks against the victim's employer or contacts.

Links and downloads associated with the fraudulent job offer are another way hackers go after job seekers. The hackers may send emails or messages, posing as a reputable company. After the victim clicks on the link, the criminals deploy malware.

Social media apps also have an influx of counterfeit job scams. In 2022, targets were led from job postings on LinkedIn to WhatsApp. The hackers lured media and tech professionals from companies in India, the UK, and the United States. Cybercriminals used WhatsApp to share a trojanized version of PuTTY, an open-source transfer application.

VPNs as a Protective Shield

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become essential in safeguarding against cyber threats, including phishing attacks from counterfeit job offers. The best VPN for multiple devices will secure an entire network against phishing scams and malware. Any information submitted during the application process will be transmitted securely.

VPNs are crucial in enhancing online privacy and security by encrypting internet connections. When users connect to the internet through a VPN, it's more challenging for hackers to intercept sensitive data. Hackers may attempt to eavesdrop on unsecured connections to inject malicious code or gather user data when an individual uses open-source software.  

VPNs provide a level of anonymity to job seekers. While connected online, the VPN masks the device's IP address. The feature prevents any tracking and hides a person's location.

Additional Lines of Defense

Although VPNs will offer protection against job offer scams, employment seekers should also remain proactive. While searching for a new job, avoid responding to job listings with obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. Another red flag is recruiters who wish to interact on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram.

When receiving messages from recruiters, review email addresses. Hover over an email address to confirm the message has come from a reputable source. Perform research on the company by searching online and ensuring the business exists.

During interactions with recruiters, look out for any odd behavior. Unprofessional or pushy managers may not come from a legitimate company. Also, be wary of recruiters who ask for advance fees or request the candidate purchase expensive equipment. Once the equipment is received, scammers may ask for remote setup access or request specific software get downloaded onto the computer.  

Proceed with caution when recruiters share any links. Many messages from platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed may contain malicious links.

A Few Final Words

The landscape of phishing attacks is constantly evolving, with cybercriminals employing increasingly sophisticated tactics, such as fraudulent employment offers and malicious open-source software, to exploit vulnerabilities. Remember to follow cybersecurity best practices and adopt tools like VPNs to safeguard yourself from scams.   

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