False allegations of copyright infringement used to spread malware
24th June 2021
Cyber criminals are always looking for new ways to trick people into downloading malicious software and, in a recent trend, they appear to have started using fake allegations of copyright infringement.
It seems that cyber criminals are posing as copyright holders and sending messages that claim substantial sums of money in damages for infringement of their copyright and include a link by which evidence of the infringement can supposedly be downloaded.
This type of message is of course intended to cause people to panic and impulsively click on the link in the message in order download the evidence and investigate the allegation. However, as has been widely reported online, these claims of copyright infringement are entirely fictitious and clicking on the link downloads malicious software that can be used to carry out ransomware attacks.
While allegations of intellectual property infringement should always be taken seriously, it is also important not to panic or do anything on impulse that might put you or your business at risk, and the best approach is usually to seek specialist legal advice from the outset.
Here is one such example of a phishing email, which arrived via a contact form web page and contained a link pointing to an apparent Google site:
My name is M*****a.
Your website or a website that your company hosts is infringing on a copyright-protected images owned by myself.
Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at www.*************.co.uk and my earlier publications to obtain the evidence of my copyrights.
Download it right now and check this out for yourself:
I believe you have willfully infringed my rights under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 as set forth in Section 504(c)(2) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”) therein.
This letter is official notification. I seek the removal of the infringing material referenced above. Please take note as a service provider, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act requires you, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receipt of this notice. If you do not cease the use of the aforementioned copyrighted material a lawsuit will be commenced against you.
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Author: David Gwilliam