Building 92 at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington. (Coolcaesar via CC BY-SA 4.0)(Coolcaesar via CC BY-SA 4.0)

Researchers have discovered two business email compromise (BEC) attack techniques that exploit Microsoft 365 “read receipt” and “out of office” message loopholes to evade auto-remediation of a malicious email.

In a blog posted Tuesday, Abnormal Security reported that in using these techniques, scammers target victims with BEC extortion notes by redirecting their own Microsoft 365 “out of office” replies and “read receipts” back to them. The researchers said these attacks were observed over the U.S. holidays in December 2020, when out-of-office replies and auto-responders were more prevalent.

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