The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) issued a legitimate fraud alert this week, announcing that it was aware of at least one federally insured credit union that received the bogus letter. In an ironic twist, the package also contained two CD-ROMs that purportedly contained training material to defend against fraud.
However, the fake fraud alert CD-ROMs are malicious, and the NCUA warned against loading them into a computer.
"Doing so could result in a possible security breach to your computer system or have other adverse consequences," the alert said.
Paula Musich, senior analyst for enterprise security at Current Analysis, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday that this is the first time she has heard of a ploy like this, but she is not surprised.
Though the risk of sending such a letter via standard mail may be higher than, say, delivering a malware-laden email, the ruse could prove successful for its orchestrators, she said.
"It's a novel approach to trying to distribute malware," she said. "Given that it focuses on credit unions, I would hazard a guess that what they're after is access to people's accounts."
Citing the recently released IBM X-Force report, which showed a noticeable decline in phishing incidents during the first half of this year, Musich said cybercriminals are finding alternative methods to perpetrating their scams as organizations get better at defending against digital message attacks.
"The creativity of these guys, I find amusing," she said.
An NCUA spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Thursday.