Chipotle’s Marketing Account Hacked: Protect Yourself From Phishing Lures

Over the past few years, food delivery apps have made it easy for people to get their favorite cuisines brought to their doorsteps. In 2020, consumers grew more accustomed to the convenience of ordering take-out when dining in at restaurants was no longer an option. But as we look ahead into 2022, this trend is here to stay. According to a new report by ResearchAndMarkets, the global online food delivery services market will grow from $115.07 billion in 2020 to $126.91 billion by the end of 2021. 

To get the latest deals and news from their favorite restaurants, many consumers opt in to receiving marketing emails from the dining locations they frequent the most. One such restaurant is the popular fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has added 22.9 million consumers to its loyalty program since launching two years ago. But customers who signed up to receive emails from Chipotle may have more to consider than whether they choose queso or guacamole. According to Bleeping Computer, Chipotle’s email vendor Mailgun was recently breached, which allowed hackers to take over the company’s email marketing efforts and reach out to unsuspecting customers. 

Let’s look at how this threat emerged and what consumers can do to help protect themselves from phishing and live a happy and safe digital life online.  

How the Phishing Scam Works  

Many restaurant chains like Chipotle utilize a third-party vendor to engage with customers who sign up to receive the latest updates. Chipotle uses Mailgun to help send, receive, and track its marketing emails. However, bad actors were able to hack into Chipotle’s Mailgun account, allowing them to send out phishing emails to recipients.  

Under the guise of the Chipotle restaurant chain, cybercriminals reportedly sent out at least 120 malicious emails within a three-day period, luring Chipotle customers to malicious links. Most of the emails directed the unsuspecting users to credential-harvesting sites, impersonating services like a Microsoft 365 login page. Some messages even included malware attachments. 

Phishing’s Impact on Consumer Security  

Although phishing is by no means a new cyberthreat, criminals have made it more difficult to spot scam messages with their increasingly sophisticated tactics. Most scammers disguise themselves as major corporations or other trustworthy entities to trick you into willingly providing information like your website login credentials or, even worse, your credit card number. But in Chipotle’s case, cybercriminals were able to hack into the company’s legitimate email marketing account, making it more difficult for consumers to spot the scam.  

As a consumer, what can you do to sidestep these stealthy tactics and continue to enjoy your life online? Follow these tips to help safeguard your security:  

1. Do your research 

While phishing has been around for years, cybercriminals continuously make these scams more sophisticated in the hopes of tricking even the most seasoned online experts. That’s why it’s important to stay up to date on the latest phishing techniques so you know what to look out for. Doing a quick search on recent phishing scams every once in a while will help you better spot these cyberthreats well before you find them in your inbox.  

2. Refrain from providing personal data 

If you receive an email that appears to be from a business you subscribe to, but they are asking you for personal information, stop and think. Don’t click on anything or take any direct action from the message. Cybercriminals know that consumers tend to let their guard down when they think they are communicating with an entity that they trust, so play it safe and never assume anything. Instead, go straight to the organization’s website. This will prevent you from downloading dangerous content from phishing links or forking over money unnecessarily. 

3. Verify URLs in emails 

If someone sends you a message with a link, hover over the link without actually clicking on it. This will allow you to see a link preview. If the URL looks suspicious, don’t interact with it and delete the message altogether.  

4. Use a comprehensive security software 

Use a security solution, like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which can help identify malicious websites. 

Stay Protected 

Now that you know how to spot phishing emails and what to do if you suspect scammers are targeting you, you’re far less likely to fall for these schemes. Remember to be careful with your personal information when you use the internet and err on the side of caution whenever anybody asks you to divulge sensitive details about your identity, finances, or login information – even if the message appears to be from a business you recognize.  

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