UPS Discloses Data Breach After Exposed Customer Info Used in SMS Phishing

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
Multinational company UPS is notifying customers in Canada that certain personal details could have been compromised through its online package tracking tools, potentially leading to their misuse in phishing attempts. The communication sent by UPS Canada titled “An Update from UPS: Combatting Phishing and Smishing,” appears to be initially aimed at cautioning customers about the risk associated with phishing. However, the communication is, in fact, a notification of a data breach. UPS Canada discreetly includes a disclosure within the message, revealing that they have been receiving reports of SMS phishing messages containing recipients’ names and address information.

“After receiving the phishing reports, UPS worked with partners within the delivery chain to understand the method used by the threat actors to harvest their targets' shipping information. Following an internal review, UPS found that the attackers behind this ongoing SMS phishing campaign were using its package look-up tools to access delivery details, including the recipients' personal contact information, between February 2022 and April 2023. The company has now implemented measures designed to restrict access to this sensitive data to thwart these convincing phishing attempts. UPS says it's notifying individuals whose information may have been affected to ensure transparency and awareness of the situation” (Bleeping Computer, 2023).

Security Officer Comments:
Additionally, UPS stated that the package look-up tools contained recipient names, shipment addresses, and possibly phone numbers and order numbers. UPS cannot specify the precise period during which the package look-up tools were misused. However, it is possible that a limited number of shippers and their customers were affected between February 1, 2022 and April 24, 2023. Online reports indicate that UPS customers across the globe have fallen victim to phishing attacks, as evidenced by the use of their personal information such as names, phone numbers, postal codes, and details about their recent orders. Bleeping Computer has come across numerous malicious text messages, which are believed to be part of this ongoing campaign. The threat actors are masquerading as LEGO and Apple shipments, and its highly probably that other companies have also been affected. UPS is working with partners in the delivery chain, law enforcement, and third party experts to identify the cause of this scheme and put a stop to it. Furthermore, UPS encourages customers to remain vigilant and educate themselves on smishing attempts like this.

Suggested Correction(s):
Users should always be cautious of individuals or organizations that ask for personal information. Most companies will not ask for sensitive data from its customers. If in doubt, users should verify with the company itself to avoid any potential issues.

Users should always take a close look at the sender’s display name when checking the legitimacy of an email. Most companies use a single domain for their URLs and emails, so a message that originates from a different domain is a red flag.

As a general rule, users should not click links or download files even if they come from seemingly “trustworthy” sources.

Check for mismatched URLs. While an embedded URL might seem perfectly valid, hovering above it might show a different web address. In fact, users should avoid clicking links in emails unless they are certain that it is a legitimate link.

Users should always be on the lookout for any grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Legitimate companies will often employ proofreaders and editors who ensure that the materials they send out are error-free.

Users should not be frightened or intimidated by messages that have an alarmist tone. They should double check with the company if they are uncertain about the status of their accounts.

Phishing emails are designed to be sent to a large number of people, so they need to be as impersonal as possible. Users should check whether the message contains a generic subject and greeting, as this can be a sign of a phishing attempt.

Although not every end user has access to advanced anti-phishing software, they can still use the built-in protection of their email clients to filter messages. One example is setting the email client to block all images unless approved.

Legitimate companies will never send confirmation emails unless there are specific reasons for doing so. In fact, most companies will avoid sending unsolicited messages unless it’s for company updates, newsletters, or advertising purposes.

Users should always take the context of an email or message into account. For example, most online accounts do away with viewable member numbers, so users should be wary if they receive emails containing a “member number” for services that generally don’t use them.

It is important to take note of unusual information in the text of the message. Any mentions of operating systems and software that are not typically used by consumers can often be indicators of a phishing attempt.

If it seems suspicious, it probably is. Users should always err on the side of caution when it comes to sending out personally identifiable information through messages and emails.