New Phishing Attack Abuses .Zip Domain to Emulate Fake WinRAR

Google recently released new top-level domains (TLDs) like .dad, .phd, .mov, and .zip, raising concerns within the security community due to the potential confusion with file extensions, particularly .mov and .zip.

A new phishing kit, “file archiver in the browser,” exploits ZIP domains by presenting fraudulent WinRAR or Windows File Explorer windows in the browser, tricking users into executing malicious files.

Last week, security researcher mr.d0x revealed a phishing attack that involved mimicking a browser-based file archiver software like WinRAR using a .zip domain to enhance its credibility.

How the Attack Works

To perform this attack, emulate the WinRAR file archive utility using HTML/CSS, with the expert uploading 2 samples on GitHub for public access.

The other one mimics the File Explorer window found in Windows 11.

The WinRAR sample incorporates cosmetic features, such as a ‘Scan’ icon that generates a message box confirming file safety, enhancing the legitimacy of the phishing page.

The toolkit enables embedding a counterfeit WinRar window in the browser, creating the illusion of opening a ZIP archive and displaying its contents when accessing a .zip domain.

It looks great in the browser, but it truly stands out as a popup window, as with the address bar and scrollbar removed, it resembles a WinRar window on the screen.

An intriguing application involves listing a non-executable file that, upon user click, triggers the download of an executable file or any desired file format, such as a .exe, even when the user expects to download an “invoice.pdf” file.

File Explorer Search Bar

Several Twitter users highlighted that the Windows File Explorer search bar serves as an effective delivery method, as searching for a non-existent file like “” prompts automatic opening in the browser, which aligns perfectly with user expectations of encountering a ZIP file.

Once the user performs this action, it automatically launches the .zip domain containing the file archive template, creating a convincingly authentic appearance.

Introducing new top-level domains (TLDs) expands the phishing possibilities for attackers, prompting organizations to block .zip and .mov domains due to their current and expected future exploitation for phishing activities.

Phishing attacks are growing in sophistication as cybercriminals increasingly incorporate detection evasion features like antibots and dynamic directories into their kits.

In 2022, the number of advanced phishing attacks by threat actors surged by 356%, while the overall attack count saw an 87% increase throughout the year.

A new wave of phishing attacks is using compromised Microsoft 365 accounts and restricted-permission message (.rpmsg) encrypted emails to steal users’ credentials, showcasing the ongoing evolution of phishing schemes.

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