May 17

Breach at DocuSign Led to Targeted Email Malware Campaign

DocuSign, a major provider of electronic signature technology, acknowledged today that a series of recent malware phishing attacks targeting its customers and users was the result of a data breach at one of its computer systems. The company stresses that the data stolen was limited to customer and user email addresses, but the incident is especially dangerous because it allows attackers to target users who may already be expecting to click on links in emails from DocuSign.

San Francisco-based DocuSign warned on May 9 that it was tracking a malicious email campaign where the subject line reads, “Completed: docusign.com – Wire Transfer Instructions for recipient-name Document Ready for Signature.” The missives contained a link to a downloadable Microsoft Word document that harbored malware.

A typical DocuSign email. Image: DocuSign.

A typical DocuSign email. Image: DocuSign.

The company said at the time that the messages were not associated with DocuSign, and that they were sent from a malicious third-party using DocuSign branding in the headers and body of the email. But in an update late Monday, DocuSign confirmed that this malicious third party was able to send the messages to customers and users because it had broken in and stolen DocuSign’s list of customers and users.

“As part of our ongoing investigation, today we confirmed that a malicious third party had gained temporary access to a separate, non-core system that allows us to communicate service-related announcements to users via email,” DocuSign wrote in an alert posted to its site. “A complete forensic analysis has confirmed that only email addresses were accessed; no names, physical addresses, passwords, social security numbers, credit card data or other information was accessed. No content or any customer documents sent through DocuSign’s eSignature system was accessed; and DocuSign’s core eSignature service, envelopes and customer documents and data remain secure.”

The company is asking people to forward any suspicious emails related to DocuSign to spam@docusign.com, and then to delete the missives. 

“They may appear suspicious because you don’t recognize the sender, weren’t expecting a document to sign, contain misspellings (like “docusgn.com” without an ‘i’ or @docus.com), contain an attachment, or direct you to a link that starts with anything other than https://www.docusign.com or https://www.docusign.net,” reads the advisory.

If you have reason to expect a DocuSign document via email, don’t respond to an email that looks like it’s from DocuSign by clicking a link in the message. When in doubt, access your documents directly by visiting docusign.com, and entering the unique security code included at the bottom of every legitimate DocuSign email. DocuSign says it will never ask recipients to open a PDF, Office document or ZIP file in an email.

DocuSign was already a perennial target for phishers and malware writers, but this incident is likely to intensify attacks against its users and customers. DocuSign says it has more than 100 million users, and it seems all but certain that the criminals who stole the company’s customer email list are going to be putting it to nefarious use for some time to come.

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  1. I used Docusign last year when selling a house. Sure enough, got one of these phishing emails yesterday. Had it arrived in the middle of that deal I would have opened it.

    Shame on Docusign for not protecting their info. Oh, and death to the perps.

  2. Jason Johnston

    Normally someone requiring that you sign a document through Docusign would tell you in advanced they are sending this to you by email. That is the key. If you receive it over email without being alerted it is coming your way, then confirm with a phone call it was sent to you by the individual claiming it is from.

    Be sensible with regards to email and things will be okay.

  3. Kinda scary that a company like DocuSign gets to keep so much sensitive information. Everything from mortgage applications to background checks and smart contracts. Their databases are a treasure for manu different purposes, the least concerning if which is phishing. The documents are not encrypted with the user’s password or some other way to ensure that nobody other than the users can view them. Without this assurance, I just don’t trust them.

  4. The subject line is morphing… now saying things like “legal documents for your approval”. The compromise at docusign explains why these are so targeted. Mine came from dousign.com while I was coincidentally awaiting legitimate docs from an attorney.

  5. IRS iTunes Card #1 Fan

    How difficult would it be for these hackers to use informal lingo? Like: “Hey Phillip, could you review this and get back to me once you signed it?”

  6. What is docusign? nobody dont use this crap anyways !!
    I never use so its some crap,not needed.

    • I’ve used it to close the sale on my house. It came in handy without the need to travel just to sign papers while working with the Real estate agent.

  7. One more reason not to trust ANY cloud-based solutions, including Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive.

    • The only time I would trust such cloud service when we agree to share a particular folder and I ascent to be included. Worked great with Google Drive while I was working on a project at graduate school.

    • And no internet based email either, right?

      This isn’t a “cloud” problem. Any organization that does anything near the Internet can be susceptible to attack, and needs to be vigilant (and avoid cutting any corners).


  8. I contact them before they made the announcement that they got hacked. My concern was the personal information on the documents I sent and received using their service.
    After addressing my concern with customer service and management, they gave me a “Case” number and they would follow up the next day. Of course, they did not follow up with me.
    The 2nd wave of phishing came again last week. Here we go again.
    I have a feeling they are not telling us everything.

  9. I used to work with their “Security Architect” when he was an email administrator years ago. I can tell you that covering up is the primary focus there. Not accountability, ownership, troubleshooting, nor future mitigation. Run fast. Run far.

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