Tag Archives: Spam Emails

Warning : WHO COVID-19 Email Scams Are Spreading!

COVID-19 Email Scams + Malware Are Spreading!

As the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads across the world, so are COVID-19 email scams and malware!

Tatyana Shcherbakova tells us what she and her team discovered!

 

Warning : COVID-19 Email Scams Are Spreading!

As the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads, fake information is being created and distributed at a very high rate, confusing people all over the world.

Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the confusion, creating various email scams, with some realistic ones pretending to be from the WHO.

Tatyana Shcherbakova, a senior web content analyst, details how her team looked at the COVID-19 email scams, and came across the realistic ones from WHO…

 

WHO Is Warning You? These Are COVID-19 Email Scams!

At first, we found emails offering products such as masks, and then the topic became more commonly used in Nigerian spam emails. We also found scam emails with phishing links and malicious attachments.

One of the latest spam campaigns mimics the World Health Organization (WHO), showing how cybercriminals recognize and are capitalizing on the important role WHO has in providing trustworthy information about the coronavirus.

Users receive emails allegedly from WHO, which supposedly offer information about safety measures to be taken to avoid a COVID-19 infection.

Once a user clicks on the link embedded in the email, they are redirected to a phishing website and prompted to share personal information, which ends up in the hands of cybercriminals.

This scam looks more realistic than other examples we have seen lately, such as alleged donations from the World Bank or IMF for anyone who needs a loan.

In order to stay safe, we advise users to carefully study the content of the emails they receive and only trust reliable sources.

If you are promised a vaccine for the virus or some magic protective measures, or content of the email is making you worried, it has most likely come from cybercriminals.

This is especially true if the sender suggests clicking on a link and sharing your personal data or opening an attachment.

You should not donate any real money or trust information with promises to help those affected by the virus, even if the email comes from someone who introduces themselves as an employee of a trusted organization.

Finally, double check the email address, as scammers often use free email services or addresses that have no relation to the organization mentioned.

 

Malware Masked As COVID-19 Coronavirus Documents!

They also found malicious files disguised as documents related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The malicious files were masked under the guise of pdf, mp4 and docx files about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The names of files imply that they contain video instructions on how to protect yourself from the virus, updates on the threat and even virus detection procedures, which is not actually the case.

In fact, these files contained a range of threats, from Trojans to worms, which are capable of destroying, blocking, modifying or copying data, as well as interfering with the operation of computers or computer networks.

Some malicious files are spread via email. For example, an Excel file distributed via email under the guise of a list of coronavirus victims allegedly sent from the World Health Organization (WHO) was in fact a Trojan-Downloader, which secretly downloads and installs another malicious file.

This second file was a Trojan-Spy designed to gather various data, including passwords, from the infected device and send it to the attacker.

 

COVID-19 Email Scams + Malware : How To Avoid

As governments and businesses are forced by the COVID-19 coronavirus to encourage their employees to work from home, it is critical that they employ these cybersecurity practices to reduce risk of falling for phishing attacks, or malware :

  • Provide a VPN for staff to connect securely to the corporate network
  • All corporate devices – including mobiles and laptops – should be protected with security software
  • The operating system and apps should be updated with the latest patches
  • Restrict the access rights of people connecting to the corporate network
  • Ensure that the staff are aware of the dangers of unsolicited messages

 

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Kaspersky Travel Scam Alert + Advisory For The Holidays!

Kaspersky Lab just issued a travel scam alert and advisory for this holiday season. Pay attention, so you will enjoy a great holiday!

 

Travel Scam Operations On The Rise!

Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered several travel scam operations last month, seeking to trick holiday-goers looking for great bargains.

Fraudsters Are Phishing For Unwary Victims

There were more than 8,000 phishing attacks, disguised as offers from popular lodging platforms. In fact, 7,917 of those phishing attacks specifically targeted people looking for Airbnb rentals.

In one example, fraudsters created a phishing page that look like an Airbnb page, and pretended to offer cheap city-centre rentals with high review scores. Once the victim confirmed and paid for the booking, both the fraudsters and the offer disappeared.

Spam Is Still Effective!

In just one day, the researchers detected 7 different fake email blasts that are very convincingly disguised as offers from popular booking platforms for airline tickets and accommodation.

Three of those spam emails actually offered FREE FLIGHTS in return for the completion of a short online survey, and sharing the link with other people. After answering just three questions, victims were asked to enter their phone numbers, which were then used to subscribe to paid mobile services.

 

Travel Scam Methods

Spam and phishing attacks were amongst the most effective attack vectors. They use social engineering to manipulate and exploit human behaviour.

Fake Websites

These travel scam operations are often very sophisticated, using fake sites that are almost identical to the legitimate websites.

They, therefore, easily trick unwary victims into handing over their credit card details, or pay for a product or service that does not exist.

Mobile Booking Risk

More people are booking their flights and accommodations on a mobile device, which makes it harder to spot fake links. This makes mobile users particularly vulnerable to both spam and phishing attacks.

 

Kaspersky Travel Scam Advisory

To avoid these travel scams, Kaspersky Lab recommends taking these security measures :

  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. AVOID IT!
  • CHECK the link in the browser’s address bar before you key in sensitive information like your login and password.
    If it is misspelled (e.g. airbnb.com.room.online), or does not match the page you are visiting (like this example below), or uses special symbols instead of letters, don’t key in any information. CLOSE THE PAGE!

An Expedia page with a Booking.com address??? Something’s NOT right…

  • Book your stay and tickets only with trusted providers.
    Make sure you are on their actual websites by typing in their address in the browser’s address bar.
  • NEVER click on links that come from an unverified source, whether it’s in an email, an instant message or through social networks.
  • Use a security solution with behaviour-based anti-phishing technologies like Kaspersky Security Cloud, or Kaspersky Total Security, which will warn you if you get tricked into visiting a phishing web page.

 

Recommended Reading

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Malicious Spam Emails Spike In Q1 2016

16 May 2016 – The latest Kaspersky Lab Spam and Phishing Report has discovered that although the quantity of spam emails has been decreasing, they have become more criminalized. At the same time, the level of malicious mailshots has dramatically increased – Kaspersky Lab products prevented 22,890,956 attempts to infect users via emails with malicious attachments in March 2016, twice the number of attempts reported in February 2016.

Since 2012 the level of spam in email traffic has constantly been decreasing. However, the quantity of emails with malicious attachments has increased significantly – in Q1 2016 it was 3.3 times higher than during the same period in 2015. There was also a growing amount of ransomware reported throughout the quarter. This is often propagated through emails with infected attachments – for example Word documents. The main actor on this field in Q1 was the ransomware Trojan Locky, which has been actively distributed via emails in different languages and has targeted at least 114 countries. Locky emails have contained fake information from financial institutions that have deceived users and forced them to open the harmful attachment.

Kaspersky Lab’s findings suggest that spam is becoming more popular for fraudsters to target Internet users, because web browsing is becoming safer. Almost all popular web-browser developers have now implemented security and anti-phishing protection tools, making it harder for cybercriminals to propagate their malware through infected web pages.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s Q1 report on spam and phishing the main findings for the quarter were:

  • In Q1 2016 Kaspersky Lab registered 56.3% of spam in email flow. This is 2.9 percent lower compared to the same period in 2015, when it equaled 59.2%.
  • The largest amount of spam was sent in January (59.6% in overall email traffic). This is explained by the end of the holiday season, when the flow of normal, non-spam, emails is usually low.
  • The USA retained its position as the biggest source of spam, sending 12.43% of unwanted emails. The share of the USA in this rating is slightly decreasing in comparison to Q1 2015, when it was 14.5%.
  • Other large sources of spam included Vietnam (second place with 10.3%) and India (6.16%). This is compared to the same period in 2015, when the second and third places were held by Russia (7.3%) and Ukraine (5.6%). Russia moved to seventh place this quarter with 4.9%.
  • 81.9% of spam emails in Q1 2016 were very small size – up to 2 KB, a 2.8 percentage point increase in comparison to the same quarter in 2015. For spammers, smaller emails are easier to handle in mass mailings.
  • Germany was the country most targeted by malicious mailshots, with a total share of 18.9% of Kaspersky Lab product users in the country targeted this way. Germany was followed by China (9.43%) and Brazil took third place (7.35%). For the same period in 2015, the top three countries were Great Britain (7.8%), Brazil (7.4%) and the USA (7.2%).
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Terrorism became the main topic of spam emails in Q1.

During this quarter fraudsters tried to lure users into opening malicious files, gaining their attention with emails about terrorism, a subject which is always in the news. To prevent terrorist attacks many countries have strengthened their security measures and this has therefore become a popular topic for spam emails.

Some spam fraudsters tried to convince recipients that the file attached to their spam email contained a new mobile application, which, after installation, could detect an explosive terrorist device. The email emphasized that the US Department of Defense had discovered this technology and that it was sufficiently simple and accessible. The attachment usually contained an executive file, which was detected as Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Dapato, malware that can steal personal user information, organize DDoS-attacks and install other malicious software.

Well-known Nigerian spammers also used terrorist topics in their emails. According to the Kaspersky Lab report, the quantity of these emails has increased considerably. These spammers previously preferred to send long emails with a detailed story, and links to news to make it more convincing. However, they are now only sending short messages with no detail, asking the recipients to get in touch.

“Unfortunately we are seeing our previous predictions about the criminalization of spam coming true. Fraudsters are using diverse methods to attract user attention, and to make them drop their guard. Spammers are employing a diversity of languages, social engineering methods, different types of malicious attachments, as well as the partial personalization of email text to look more convincing. The fake messages often imitate notifications from well-known organizations and services. This is raising spam to a new dangerous level.” – warns Daria Gudkova, Spam Analysis Expert, Kaspersky Lab.

 

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