Mind the ransomware disguised as spam

Last year, a huge amount of malicious spam was recorded. Of this, some 20% distributed ransomware Trojans – nasty little viruses which infect your computer and essentially hold it hostage until you pay a “ransom” to have everything released. According to Kaspersky, the most popular were mass spam mailings sent out to infect user computers using misleading headlines leveraging off popular global events, such as the Olympics, terrorism and lottery notifications.

Darya Gudkova (pictured), Spam Analyst Expert at Kaspersky Lab, says the extensive use of ransomware may be due to the availability of this sort of malware on the black market. She said:

"Currently, cybercriminals can not only rent a botnet to send out spam, they can also use so-called Ransomware-as-a-Service. This means that the attacker may not be a hacker in the traditional sense, and may not even know how to code. In 2017 the volume of malicious spam is unlikely to fall."

The Kaspersky Lab spam report also identified several interesting trends:

  • The US remained the biggest source of spam (12.08%), with second place taken by Vietnam (10.32%), and third by India (10.15%).
  • Germany remained in first place among the countries targeted by malicious mailshots (14.13%). The second and third places were occupied by Japan (7.59%) and China (7.32%), both of which were outside the top 10 in 2015.
  • 15.29% of unique users were attacked by phishers.
  • In 2016, the average proportion of phishing attacks against customers of financial institutions was 47.48%, up from 34.33% in 2015.