Deception is key when it comes to distributing ransomware. From phishing emails to bogus applications, the attacks are only effective if they’re believable.
But ransomware has been around for quite some time now and people are finally realizing how serious the threat is. They’re starting to realize how important it is to be able to spot a phishing attempt.
What does a cybercriminal do when an email just isn’t enough? They make a cold call.
Over in the U.K., the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Center has issued a warning to educational institutions. Someone who reports to be from the “Department of Education” (the real department is “for,” not of) has been making phone calls. The reason: they have important documents to send over. Documents that can only be sent to top administrators, like mental health assessments or exam.
They’ve also pretended to be representatives of a telecom provider and from the Department For Work and Pensions.
It’s all part of the smokescreen, of course. Once they’ve conveyed the urgency of their message and have an email address to work with, they’re ready to set the trap.
The email contains an infected .ZIP attachment that’s disguised as a Word or Excel file. Once it’s opened and the malicious payload delivered, the ransomware goes to work encrypting all the files it can. Ransom amounts very, but authorities say that amounts of nearly $10,000 have been demanded.
Though the incidents mentioned in the report took place in the U.K. it seems inevitable that cold calling will start being used elsewhere by ransomware crooks. Once a tactic has proven successful they’ll employ it over and over again until there’s absolutely no chance it will earn them a quick buck.