Beware of Contact Form: they can lead to unpleasant surprises.

Security Awareness
27 April 2022
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There is no company website that does not have a “Contact” page. We all look for this page when we want to contact a company to obtain more information, clarification, or perhaps an appointment or direct contact details. To obtain one of these results, it is very often necessary to fill in a simple form.

Most companies use this channel to maintain relations with their customers. For such reason, each request arriving from contact forms is taken very seriously.

Thereby the “Contact Form” has recently become the protagonist of a very sophisticated type of hacker attack. The ingenuity of criminals seems to have chosen this apparently simple and harmless tool to infect company computers with malware.

The technique is very simple and is based precisely on the use of the form on the contact page. Used in this case to notify a company of a problem and to threaten legal consequences due to hypothetical misbehaviour.

Don’t open that link

One of the most popular attack techniques is the misuse of copyrighted images. The message that arrives via the form is sent by a fake professional photographer. He declares that he has discovered on the organisation’s website, that one of his images, covered by copyright, is being used. He invites the company to open his photo book, which can be reached by clicking on the attached link. Doing this he will give proof to his statement. Obviously, he affirms that if the image is not removed immediately, he will be forced to take legal action.

Anyone may have the doubt that their company website has, by mistake, used an image protected by copyright. Clicking on the image to check, may therefore become an instinctive gesture. Especially if you are under pressure from a possible legal problem or a financial request for the image used.

Needless to say, the attachments or links where victims are directed, hide sophisticated mechanisms by which hackers install malware on the victim’s computer.

Never act out of instinct or fear of consequences  

There are two main factors that mislead the victim: the fact that the message comes directly from the victim’s own website, which is considered to be a totally protected environment, and the accuracy with which the text is written, which makes it seem very real.

Obviously, the solution for this type of attack cannot be to eliminate the root of the problem by eliminating the possibility of contacting the company via the Contact Form.

Of course, in the face of this attack technique, an employee who is not so aware of cyber risks is certainly more at risk. In such cases, adequate training, both theoretical and practical, in Cyber Security Awareness can make all the difference.

In order not to fall victim to these attacks, it is extremely important to maintain constant vigilance. Avoid opening attachments or following links of any kind, especially if the message contained is characterised by a strong sense of pressure to act immediately.


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