The 2018 Brazilian general election provided the perfect backdrop for cybercriminals to create a phishing campaign designed to infect citizens of the South American country with the Astaroth WMIC Trojan.

In the days leading up to the Oct. 7 vote, the malicious campaign used subject lines suggesting that then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, was embroiled in a scandal, anti-phishing company Cofense reported in a company blog post today.

To feign authenticity, the attackers impersonated the well-respected Brazilian research and statistics company IBOPE (the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics). Hoping to trick potential victims into downloading malicious .lnk files and click on malicious links, the actors presented what appeared to be an official IBOPE poll asking recipients to indicate which candidate they preferred.

If opened, the sabotaged files then downloaded the first stage of the Astaroth WMIC (Windows Management Instrumentation Console) malware, which is known to target South Americans, Cofense explained.

The campaign also leveraged the popular hashtag  #VEMPRAURNA, which legitimate websites had been using to encourage citizens to vote.

Bolsonaro would go on to win the election.