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A suspected nation state-sponsored hacking group attempted to infiltrate US utility firms in July, researchers say.

On Thursday, Proofpoint researchers Michael Raggi and Dennis Schwarz said that between July 19 and July 25, spear-phishing emails were sent to three US companies responsible for providing utility services to the public.

The phishing emails impersonated an engineering licensing board, the US National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, and attempted to elicit panic in recipients by pretending that the victim company had failed an exam.

This is a common technique used in phishing emails and is found in other examples including fake bank withdrawal emails, tax demands, and student loan complaints. If a target is frightened, they may be more likely to follow a phishing email's instructions without thinking things through.
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