In this likely AI-generated phishing attack, the attacker spoofs the sender's display name to impersonate the IRS and emails the target, claiming a problem was encountered while verifying the recipient's most recent tax records. The message requests that the recipient review and submit the required information via the included link to avoid delays in processing their tax refund, which is intended to create a sense of urgency. However, if the target clicks on the "Review and Verify Your Identity" button, they will be directed to a phishing site designed to steal personal or financial information. This attack highlights the sophisticated methods threat actors use to exploit the trust and urgency associated with official communications from government agencies. By mimicking the IRS's email style and language, the attacker aims to compel recipients to act quickly and provide sensitive information without thorough verification.

Older, legacy email security tools struggle to accurately identify this email as an attack because it employs spoofed sender information, contains no malicious attachments and uses social engineering tactics. Modern, AI-powered email security solutions detect the spoofed sender information, analyze links for malicious content, and understand message context to recognize signs of phishing and correctly mark this email as an attack.

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April 26th Screenshot

How Does This Attack Bypass Email Defenses?

This email attack bypasses traditional security solutions for multiple reasons, including the following:

  • Spoofed Sender Information: The attacker uses a spoofed sender name that appears legitimate, making it difficult for legacy tools to detect the deception based on sender information alone.
  • No Malicious Attachments: The email does not contain any attachments, often a focus of traditional security tools. Without attachments to scan for malware, the email might not raise immediate red flags.
  • Social Engineering Tactics: The email leverages urgency and fear tactics, prompting recipients to act quickly without scrutinizing the email. Legacy tools may not effectively analyze the psychological manipulation used in the message.

How Did Abnormal Detect This Attack?

This attack was detected using AI and ML by analyzing various factors, including the following:

  • Spoofed Sender Detection: Abnormal detects and flags discrepancies between the displayed sender information and the actual sender details to identify spoofing attempts.
  • Link Analysis: Abnormal performs deep link analysis to understand the true nature of the URLs and their potential to redirect to phishing sites, even if the top-level domain appears legitimate.
  • Contextual Understanding: Abnormal analyzes the context of the message, recognizing the urgency and threat of tax verification issues as potential indicators of phishing, especially when combined with a request to follow a link.

By recognizing established normal behavior and detecting these abnormal indicators, a modern email security solution has the ability to prevent this attack from reaching inboxes.

Please note the exact detection mechanism from Abnormal Security's system might include proprietary techniques and methodologies not disclosed here.

Analysis Overview




Credential Theft


Spoofed Display Name
Masked Phishing Link


Account Verification
Tax Matter

Impersonated Party

Government Agency

Impersonated Brands


AI Generated


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