A recent report has revealed that due to the mass WannaCry infection, fraudster have been sending spam mails offering users different services to fight against the epidemic.
In Q2 2017, cybercriminals involved in spam distribution tried to capitalise on public fears when the WannaCry ransomware epidemic struck in May. Knowing that there are lots of people out there infected with this ransomware, and searching for ways to get their encrypted data back, fraudsters sent out spam and phishing emails, offering users different services to fight against the epidemics. This is one of the key findings of Kaspersky Lab’s “Spam and phishing in Q2 2017” report.
The WannaCry ransomware attack affected more than 200,000 computers across the globe, resulting in massive panic, and spammers instantly capitalised on the opportunity. Researchers detected a large amount of messages offering services such as protection from WannaCry attacks, data recovery, and, moreover, educational workshops and courses for users. In addition, spammers successfully implemented a traditional scheme of fraudulent offers to install software updates on affected computers. However, links were redirecting users to phishing pages, where the personal data of victims would have been stolen.
One of the main trends in the past three months is the number of mass mailings targeted at corporate networks. Based on Kaspersky Lab research, these have expanded since the beginning of the year. Spammers began to widely disguise malicious mailings as corporate dialogues, by using the identities of corporate mail services, including real signatures, logos and even banking information. In archives attached to the email, cybercriminals sent out exploit packages targeted at stealing FTP, email and other passwords. Kaspersky Lab experts highlight that most attacks on the corporate sector have financial goals.
In addition, in the second quarter of the year researchers detected a growth in number of mass mailings with malicious Trojans, sent on behalf of international delivery services. Spammers were sending shipping reports with information about non-existent parcel deliveries. With the aim to infect computers or to steal personal credentials, criminals were found spreading download links with malware, including the banking Trojan Emotet, which was first detected back in 2014. Overall, the volume of malicious mass mailings have increased by 17%, according to the new Kaspersky Lab report.
“During the second quarter of the year, we have seen that the main trends in spam and phishing attacks have continued to grow. The use of WannaCry in mass mailings proves that cybercriminals are very attentive and reactive to international events. Moreover, cybercriminals have started to focus more on the B2B sector, seeing it as lucrative. We expect this tendency will continue to grow, and the overall amount of corporate attacks and their variety will expand”, said Darya Gudkova, Spam Analyst Expert at Kaspersky Lab.
Other important trends and statistics in Q2, highlighted by Kaspersky Lab researchers, include the following:
- The average amount of spam has increased up to 56.97%. Vietnam became the most popular source of spam, overtaking the U.S. and China. The top 10 countries include Russia, Brazil, France, Iran and the Netherlands.
- The Necurs botnet is still active. However, the experts spotted a decrease in the volume of spam sent from this botnet, and its instability.
- The country most targeted by malicious mailshots was Germany. The leader of the previous period, China, came second, followed by U.K., Japan and Russia. Other popular targets include Brazil, Italy, Vietnam, France and the U.S.
- The Kaspersky Lab Anti-Phishing system was triggered 46,557,343 times on the computers of Kaspersky Lab users. The largest percentage of affected users were in Brazil (18.09%). Overall, 8.26% unique users of Kaspersky Lab products worldwide were attacked by phishing.
- As in Q1, the main targets of phishing attacks remained the same and were primarily from the financial sector: banks, payments services and online stores.
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.