DocuSign confirmed on its website that it had been hacked, after launching an investigation due to spam accounts abusing the company’s branding. On their website they stated that hackers had
“gained temporary access to a separate, non-core system that allows us to communicate service-related announcements to users via email.”
DocuSign was quick to note that while the hackers had gotten their hands on millions of email addresses, none of their more sensitive data was stolen. None of their clients had their social security number, names, addresses or payment options had been stolen. While this is a good thing, the loss of email addresses is a problem on its own.
The email addresses tell anyone who gets a hold of them that the owner uses online services for sensitive materials. DocuSign is a service that allows legally binding contracts to be signed over the internet, without needing to print out a physical copy. While the hackers didn’t gain access to any contracts or emails themselves, they now have targeting data they can use. They have emails they can send phishing attempts or other malware programs too.
There have already been reports of fake “DocuSign” emails being sent out, they request that the owner sign a document for a money transfer or something similar. DocuSign has recommended that its customers visit the DocuSign website if they get notifications that they have documents to sign. The DocuSign website is still reported as secure and any document that needs to be signed appears in each customer’s portal.
This sort of targeted email attack is known as “Spearphishing.” Normal phishing attacks rely on emails sent out to a large list of emails, with minimal targeting data. They rely on a small percentage of people to click the links that lead them to a malware ridden website or executable. Spearphishing attacks, however, are single target emails sent from email accounts set up to look like an acquaintance of yours. While a normal phishing email might have a subject saying you’ve won the lottery a spearphishing email will pretend to be from a friend or business.
The idea behind these attacks is that upon seeing the similar looking email address, and the emotionally charged email content, that you will act without thinking. Spearfishing relies on the human impulse to help out our friends or loved ones. If the email claims to be from a business you associate with, then the attack is hoping you will automatically do what the email asks without thinking about it. It may seem obvious, but the best way to stop a spearphishing or phishing email is to stop and read what you have been sent carefully. Call the person or business in question to verify the email you have been sent. A few minutes spent ensuring the veracity of that email could save you a world of problems.
Phishing emails can lead to a variety of malware programs being installed on your device, without your knowledge. Malware such as keystroke loggers which record and transmit everything you type to their creator. Programs that grant remote access to your device are also common, which would allow their owner to watch and record everything you do on the infected computer. If you use your home computer for work, you could unknowingly spread the malware across networks. Ransomware programs, like WannaCrypt, are spread via phishing email.
Max is a Legal Assistant and author residing in the Philadelphia area He has been writing for AskCyberSecurity.com since early 2017.