According to a recently released report, 93% of all phishing emails analysed in March were shown to contain ransomware. The report also showed that the number of phishing emails recorded was over 6 million in the first quarter of 2016, a massive increase of more than 789% compared to the final quarter of last year.
Ransomware was shown to have accounted for over half of all phishing emails in March, a big increase from February’s 29% and January’s 15%. The cause of the rise of ransomware is most likely down to the fact that it is becoming easier to send and unfortunately has a relatively high success rate when it comes to making the sender money. It is currently so successful due to a lot of people not being aware of the threat and aware of how to deal with it until they have been hit.
Most Common Types of Ransomware
Locker Ransomware denies a user access to the computer by locking the user interface and then demanding that the victim pays a fee in order to restore access. This type of ransomware normally just locks access to the interface and leaves files and system untouched. Locker ransomware often pretends to belong to law enforcement agencies to spook users into paying up.
Crypto Ransomware, on the other hand, denies access to files or data by finding and encrypting valuable data stored on a computer or device. The user cannot gain access to the files unless they pay a fee to obtain the decryption key from the scammers. This type of ransomware preys on people’s ignorance when it comes to the importance of backing up files. Once the ransomware gains access to a device it tries to remain hidden whilst it searches for files to encrypt.
With the sharp rise in ransomware, new varieties are beginning to be discovered on a regular basis and so far over 124 separate variants have been discovered.
According to a separate report, 46% of IT decision makers said that their organisation had been ‘significantly’ affected by malware, including ransomware and phishing.
Rise in soft target phishing
The report also showed that as well as the sharp rise in emails containing ransomware there has also been an increase in soft target phishing attempts. These attacks are a cross between a spear phishing attack and spam email. These types of emails target people with a particular job within an organisation.
A favourite seems to be emails claiming to contain job applications. The email gets sent to people in an organisation and relies on people who do not work in HR forwarding it on to the appropriate person. This method is effective as most people would assume that internally shared email would not contain any malicious links.
Other common types of soft targeted phishing emails are billing, shipping and invoice-related messages.
Backup your data
Ensuring you have a backup of your critical information is also essential so that, should you receive a threatening extortion message, you can be confident your data is safe and you are not pressurised into paying any unnecessary ransom demands.