Fresno, Calif. – Email messages that trick users installing malware are working, big time. Some of our customers have recently been hit with cryptolocker attacks. This type of ransomware has hit an all time high. This is even when anti-virus/anti-malware is in use, since they may not catch some of the newest malware.
A recent article in InfoWorld covered this topic. “The number of domains serving up ransomware increased 35-fold in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the end of 2015, according the the latest Infoblox DNS Threat Index,” says the article. This is extremely alarming and costing huge ransoms and lost productivity to unsuspecting victims.
Here at Datatech, we take this threat seriously. Fortunately, our clients that were hit had our cloud backup services with our Datatech IT-Solutions division and were back up and running in a hour. Are you backing up your data everyday? If not, why not?
We asked Datatech Vice President and Programmer, Matthew Davidian his thoughts on how to protect oneself from becoming a victim. Says Davidian, “There are usually several easy to spot tip-offs that an email is bogus. Here is a sample email that I received that looks suspicious with explanations of what you can look for to avoid being tricked into installing some software that will do Really Bad Things to your computer and data:
First, notice that the domain for the “From:” email address is “wispaninterent.com”–not paypal.com. This is an immediate tip-off that the message is not really coming from PayPal. (If the full email address doesn’t appear, try placing the mouse pointer over the “From:” name and see if a tooltip appears with the full email address.)
Secondly, official messages from big companies always pay careful attention to branding. Notice that the company name appears three different ways: “Paypal”, “paypal” and “PayPal”. That is just sloppy, and an official email from PayPal would never go out with these types of mistakes.
Thirdly, you can place your mouse pointer over any link in an email and see a tooltip that shows you the link address. But don’t click on it! Like the “From:” email address, this link is not using a PayPal domain name. It looks like some kind of file storage site (“filemail.com”) that is obviously not linked to PayPal.
Also, the link appears to be a direct link to a file, not to a web page (it doesn’t end in file extension like “.htm”, “.html”, or “.asp” that would indicate it is a web page.) Always be suspicious of a direct link included in an email.
And finally, does the email try to create a sense that you must install something? If so, assume it is suspicious until proven otherwise (say by visiting the paypal.com site in this example to confirm that a “software upgrade” is needed). This is social engineering at work.
Ask yourself if you ever had to install software for this product before. If you actually have used PayPal before but only in a web browser, you should never have installed any Windows software to use PayPal before. If that is the case, why do you need to install a software upgrade now?
If you have installed and used the PayPal App, then the upgrade process should be handled directly by the app or by going to the app store where you got the app and downloading an update directly from there. And if you have used the PayPal App on a phone or tablet, the upgrade would need to be handled on that device, not your Windows PC.”
The human tendency is to be curious, these emails are really convincing. What should our attitude be? Davidian says, “If you are ever not sure, the best thing to do is just don’t click on a link in an email message. Check with your system administrator especially when you get a message that some software needs to be installed or updated. Doing that can prevent a potential disaster.”
Here at Datatech we supply clients who choose to arm themselves with 24 hour 7 days a week cloud backup services. Surprisingly, many of our clients are not backing up their valuable data. Contact us today at Sales@Datatech-IT.com for a free evaluation and start getting protected now! What’s the saying? ‘Prevention is worth a pound of cure.’