Spark suspects “Flubot” malware to be the source of a deluge of fraudulent text messages


A 2degrees customer reported receiving 14 different fraudulent messages overnight.

Provided

A 2degrees customer reported receiving 14 different fraudulent messages overnight.

A form of malware called “Flubot” can be the source of a deluge of fraudulent texts from which customers of Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees are suffering.

All three phone companies have confirmed that their customers are receiving large volumes of fraudulent text messages telling them they must click on a link for the delivery to be redirected.

2degrees spokeswoman Andrea Brady said the scam was not unusual, but the number of text messages sent was “quite out of the ordinary”.

“Everyone is affected right now,” she said.

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Vodafone spokesperson Nicky Preston and Spark spokesperson Cassie Arauzo have both confirmed that their customers are also receiving an unusually high number of fraudulent text messages.

Preston said it appeared some people’s phones were sending fraudulent messages to contacts in their address book, which suggests the possibility of malware and could explain the magnitude of the problem.

Arauzo said that Spark believed that if phone users were tricked into clicking any of the malicious links, it would install a form of malicious application known as “Flubot” on their phone that would send further messages with it. links infected with malware to their contacts.

“If you’ve signed in to any accounts or apps using a password since downloading the app, you need to change that account’s password,” she said.

“If you have used these same passwords for other accounts, those must be changed as well.”

Spark had posted a warning on her Facebook page, she said.

Nadia Yousef, incident manager at the government cybersecurity agency Cert NZ, said she was monitoring reports of the incident and working with partners in the telecommunications industry.

Vodafone NZ believes the fraudulent messages are spread by customers' phones sending the text messages to contacts in their address book, but says the details are still being investigated.

Tom Pullar-Strecker / Tips

Vodafone NZ believes the fraudulent messages are spread by customers’ phones sending the text messages to contacts in their address book, but says the details are still being investigated.

Cert NZ encourages victims to come forward.

“If people have been affected by these scams, we encourage them to report them to us as soon as they can,” she said.

Yousef said people shouldn’t feel embarrassed if they get fooled.

“This embarrassment can be a barrier for people seeking help and potentially getting their money back.”

People could protect themselves from fraud by contacting the real brand fraudsters impersonating them, through their public number, and verifying requests, she said.

Brady said the messages appeared to start Tuesday afternoon and many customers had received multiple fraudulent texts overnight.

2degrees and Vodafone have warned people not to click on links in texts.

A customer reported 14 different scam texts overnight, Brady said.

Preston said Vodafone is looking to take down websites that crooks trick people into visiting.

Vodafone and Spark believed overseas phone customers had encountered similar problems.

Brady speculated that the crooks were looking to profit from the increase in online shopping during the current Covid restrictions.


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