In the second quarter of 2016 the level of spam in overall email traffic equaled 57.3%, according to the quarterly report on Spam and Phishing by Kaspersky Lab. This is a four percentage points increase compared to Q2 2015, and one percentage point increase in comparison to the previous quarter.
During the past quarter, political topics were among one of the most interesting for spammers. The upcoming US elections and the candidates involved gave fraudsters a good opportunity to target users. Among other hot topics of the quarter were the Olympic Games in Brazil, with both spammers and phishers earning money from sports fans.
Donald Trump became one of the main topics for the majority of spam emails related to politics. In these emails spammers told their targets about Mr. Trump’s unique methods of making money and invited them to copy Mr. Trump with their own business. To learn more, users were invited to click on the link in the email. The link led to a fake news portal with an article about how Mr. Trump made his money. To start making money themselves, users had to fill in their personal information in the online form on the webpage. The user earned no money but cybercriminals obtained sensitive data.
“Spammers are quite frequently trying to use breaking news and speculate on famous people. Donald Trump was not an exception. Users should be aware of this and remain vigilant in order to mitigate their risk. We also see that social networks are highly attractive for spammers and phishers. If one of your friends is starting to behave differently online and sending provocative links or even tag you or one of your friends under suspicious posts, it’s likely his account has been compromised. Do not click on those links and do not install any software that the system might suggest. Common sense can prevent nearly all infections of this type. In addition, think twice before opening attachments in emails, the risk of infection to your computer is very high”, warns Daria Gudkova, Spam Analysis Expert, Kaspersky Lab.
The Anti-Phishing system was triggered 32,363,492 times on the computers of Kaspersky Lab users. In Q2 2015, the system was triggered 30,807,071 times, which is almost a 5% increase. The largest percentage of users affected by phishing attacks was in China (20.22%) followed by Brazil (18.63%) and Algeria (14.3%). It is worth noting that the percentage of affected users in Q2 2015 was lower, the top three countries were: Brazil (9.74%), India (8.3%) and China (7.23%). The numbers doubled compared to the same quarter of 2015.
An unusual anomaly in the volume of malicious spam traffic was discovered in Q2 – from 1 June to 21 June, when the company’s experts registered a tremendous decrease in malicious spam email campaigns. During that time, there was a 20-fold drop in the average number of spam emails with zip archives, compared to the overall average for the quarter. At the same time, the Necurs botnet mysteriously reduced its fraudulent activities. Kaspersky Lab experts don’t have solid proof that these two events are connected, but it is likely. Several sources on the web reported that the operators behind the Necurs botnet experienced some technical issues resulting in an outage. These problems were apparently quickly fixed, as after 21 June the malicious spam email flow recovered, along with the botnet operations.
In order to stay safe and not fall into the fraudsters trap, Kaspersky Lab encourages you to stay wise while you are online. Do not click on the links and allow the installation of any plugins from suspicious online recourses. In addition, do not disable the Anti-Phishing and Anti-Spam components on your security solutions.
Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards
The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.
The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).
Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”
Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever Award. She has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).
The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:
The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognition, Age cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.
Cons exploit Telegram ICO
Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.
In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.
Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.
The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.
Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.
“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:
- Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
- Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
- Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.