If you thought phishing emails are less dangerous, then you would be terribly wrong. According to a recent report, almost 93% of phishing emails now carry the ransomware malware.
First, what is phishing?
Phishing is an age-old trick used by scammers and hackers to trick people into revealing their personal and financial information. This infographic explains more about phishing.
The deadly cocktail of phishing and ransomware
As it is, the 1st quarter of 2016 saw 6.3 million phishing emails – a mammoth jump of 789% when compared to the last quarter of 2015.
And because the phishing business is doing so well, ransomware creators decided to use it as their ultimate cash cow. So, what do they do? They start gift-wrapping phishing emails with ransomware malware. This infographic explains more on what is ransomware and what is does.
Phishing emails are becoming more sophisticated and more effective with time. People are still being fooled into opening these emails and walk right into the trap of attackers. And this just makes it easier to spread ransomware and pull in easy cash.
Unlike other cyber crimes like stealing personal data, collecting it, and selling it in the online black market, ransomware makes way for easy money without breaking a sweat. How? Take this story for instance:
Bob works in the account section of XYZ firm. One fine day, Bob receives an email about a job in an ABC firm that is offering a better position and a handsome package. The email has an attachment which Bob needs to fill in and send it across to secure his position. He downloads the attachment and opens the doc and bam! Bob’s computer and all the other computers connected to it, get infected by a ransomware that was hiding in that attachment. The ransomware starts encrypting all the files in the infected systems and then finishes its job by demanding a ransom of 1 Bitcoin ($694, ₹46,641/-). Now, this amount is not a biggie for a small or medium enterprise. So, in most cases, the victim pays up instead of finding other means to recover the data. Moreover, ransomware creators usually set a deadline for their victim to pay up, failing which, they threaten to destroy the data forever.
So, coming back, it is the easy cash flow that makes ransomware so dangerous, and the need to stay away from it, equally imperative.
So, what should we do?
• Never open emails that come from unknown, unwanted or unexpected sources, even if they seem to be from your favorite online store, your boss or your friend.
• Do not click on links or download attachments in such emails, especially if they speak about your banking account.
• Most phishing emails carry a sense of urgency. The way they are written is mainly to trick you into taking an action like clicking on a link or downloading an attachment. So, beware!
• Apply all recommended updates for your Operating System, programs like Adobe, Java, Internet Browsers, etc. These updates fix security weaknesses in these programs and prevent malware from exploiting them.
• Make sure that your antivirus software is up-to-date and is capable of blocking phishing emails and phishing websites.
• Take regular backups of your files. Remember to disconnect the Internet when you are backing up on a hard drive. Unplug the drive before you go online again.
Remember, with easy payouts and effortless methods of propagation, ransomware malware is here to stay. So, we better beef up our defense!
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