Tech support scams have always been a problem, but they typically were located on small web hosting services throughout the world. Researchers have now observed these scams increasingly moving towards the Microsoft Azure cloud platform for ease of deployment and inexpensive web hosting.
Microsoft Azure has a feature called App Services that allows you to quickly and easily mass deploy web sites to the cloud. When a web site is deployed in Azure, they will be hosted on the azurewebsites.netdomain using names like my-app-name.azurewebsites.net.
As an example of bad actors utilizing Azure services, since May 10th, security researchers MalwareHunterTeam and JayTHL have discovered close to 200 web sites hosted on the Azure App Services platform that were displaying tech support scams.
When these sites were found, JayTHL has been reporting them to Microsoft using their abuse API. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming amount of abuse reports Microsoft receives, these links can stay active for 4-5 days before Microsoft shuts them down.
This gives the scammers plenty of time to create new Azure accounts and mass deploy another batch of web sites to display tech support scams.
Mostly Apple and Microsoft tech support scams
When BleepingComputer examined some of the URLs shared by MalwareHunterTeam with us, we saw that all of these scams were pretending to be support sites for Microsoft and Apple.
Below are various tech support scams being pushed by these sites. All of them pretend to be an alert from Microsoft or Apple that states your computer is infected with spyware or a virus.
One of the advantages of using Azure to host your site is that every web site is secured using a SSL certificate from Microsoft. This can make some users think that they are on a legitimate site owned and operated by Microsoft.
Many of these scam sites also utilize techniques to lock up the browser or prevent you from leaving the site. Therefore, to close these scams you typically have to close the tab, and if not possible, the browser process itself.
In addition to tech support scams, phishing sites are moving to Azure cloud services as well. As you can see below, a fake Microsoft account login screen is being hosted on azurewebsites.net.
Azure App Services is not the only Azure service being used to host phishing scams. Scammers are also utilizing Azure Blob Storage to store their phishing scams.
Sites hosted on blob storage will utilize the hostname.blob.core.windows.net and also take advantage of a Microsoft SSL certificate.