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Most phishing emails are ransomware

by on02 June 2016

Because ID theft is too much like hard work

A new report suggests that about 93 percent of all phishing emails contained encryption ransomware.

The report released by PhishMe said the figure was up from 56 percent in December, and less than 10 percent every other month of last year.

And the number of phishing emails hit 6.3 million in the first quarter of this year, a 789 percent increase over the last quarter of 2015.
Ransomware accounted for 51 percent of all variants in March, up from just 29 percent in February and 15 percent in January. This is because ransomware is getting easier and easier to send and that it offers a quick and easy return on investment.

However stolen credit card numbers have to be sold and used before the cards are cancelled. Identity theft takes even more of a time and your average tea leaf can’t be bothered.

Ransomware victims tend to pay quickly and you don’t need to hunt through company networks for valuable data, processing it, and sell it.

Brendan Griffin, Threat Intelligence Manager at PhishMe said:

"If you look at the price point of paying the ransom, it is rarely more than 1 or 2 Bitcoin, that's $400 to $800, maybe $1,000 depending on the exchange rate. That's a relatively low price point for a small to medium business."

The amount is low enough that it's often easier to victims to pay up rather than struggle to recover the data by other means.
And the new, easy-to-use ransomware tools and services are not just attracting criminals who would previously run other kinds of scams, but also bringing new players into the business, he said.

The two main flavours of ransomware are Locky and TeslaCrypt. CryptoWall has fallen out of favor, PhishMe reported. In March, nearly75 percent of all samples were Locky.

In addition to the spike in the number of ransomware emails, one variant that's seeing increasing popularity is the "soft targeted" phishing message. This is when an email is targeted at a specific executive or people in a particular job category.

A popular type of phishing email is the resume email, which supposedly has a resume from a job applicant in the attachment.
Other common types of soft targeted phishing emails are billing, shipping and invoice-related messages.

Last modified on 02 June 2016
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