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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

New .Zip Domains Could Be Used for Phishing

New .Zip Domains Could Be Used for Phishing
Keira Waddell Published on 11th June 2023 Senior Writer

A novel phishing technique known as "File Archiver in the Browser'' could leverage.ZIP domains to deceive users into opening malicious files. Google recently introduced the option to register.ZIP and.MOV domains, which sparked debates about potential cybersecurity risks as these are the same as existing file extensions. This could lead to situations where a user thinks they’re opening a.zip file, but they’re actually opening a URL to a.zip website. This confusion could lead to opportunities for scammers.

Another concern is programs automatically converting ".zip" file names into clickable URLs, which could also be easily exploited for malware delivery and phishing attacks. When a user clicks on such a link, their browser tries to open the associated site, which can lead to redirection, display of an HTML page, or a file download prompt.

Security researcher mr.d0x has created an innovative phishing toolkit to show how a.zip domain may be used to increase phishing engagement. The associated website displays a simulated WinRAR window within the browser, complete with a fake security scan window. The address bar and scrollbar can be removed to make it look more authentic.

The toolkit serves multiple purposes, including credential theft and malware delivery. For example, if a user double-clicks on a PDF file in the fake WinRAR window, they may be redirected to a page that prompts them to enter login credentials to view the file.

Furthermore, the toolkit can deliver malware by presenting a PDF file that, when clicked, downloads a similarly-named malicious.exe file instead. Since Windows typically hides file extensions by default, users may mistake the downloaded file for a harmless document.

The technique also exploits Windows' file search behavior. When searching a file name in the Windows File Explorer search bar, it will automatically try to open it in a web browser if it doesn’t already exist on the machine. Therefore, a phishing tactic could be to instruct users that they must open a.zip file by using the Windows File Explorer to search for a given file name. However, as the file doesn’t actually exist on the user’s device, Windows will open the scammer’s website instead.

About the Author

Keira is an experienced cybersecurity and tech writer dedicated to providing comprehensive insights on VPNs, online privacy, and internet censorship.