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So what, exactly, are the types of spam that continue to fill our inboxes to the brim and what can we do about it? There are several types of spam to consider. On the other end of the spam spectrum, you have the serious threats—cybercriminals attempting to break into your online accounts, steal your data, steal your money and spread malware. Emails of this type are mostly filtered out by your email software, and whatever makes it past the filters is easy enough to identify as spam and flag for removal.
First in our lineup of email threats are advance-fee scams. Also known as the Nigerian scam or scam, because the scam originated in Nigeria refers to the section of the Nigerian criminal code the scams violate. Despite lending its name to the infamous scam, only a small fraction of spam originates from Nigeria. The country ranks number 68 in top spam senders according to Cisco Talos.
Apropos of the name, the advance-fee scam involves a mysterious sender offering you a vast reward in exchange for a cash advance, usually as some sort of processing fee, required to unlock the larger sum. Once you wire the cash to the cybercriminal, the sender disappears with your money.
There never was a princely fortune or secret inheritance to begin with. Another variant of the advance-fee scam turns unsuspecting victims into money mules.
In exchange, victims get to keep a portion of the ill-gotten gains for acting as the middleman. Scams like these seem fairly transparent, yet people fall for them every day due in large part to the deep bag of tricks scammers have at their disposal.
The Revival and Rise of Email Extortion Scams
These tricks are called social engineering. Social engineering refers to the methods scammers use to pressure victims into taking some sort of action. That is because it attacks the most vulnerable and powerful computer on the planet: the human mind," Adam Kujawa Director of Malwarebytes Labs. That is because it attacks the most vulnerable and powerful computer on the planet: the human mind. Phishing emails trick victims into giving up sensitive information, e.
Spoofed emails mimic, or spoof, an email from a legitimate sender, demanding some sort of action.
6 Common Phishing Attacks and How to Protect Against Them
Well executed spoofs will contain familiar branding and content, and sound urgent—even threatening. Common phishing ploys include:. By tricking us into giving up valuable information, cybercriminals are able to hack the online services we use every day without any real technological savvy. To put it another way, why pick the lock when you can just steal the key?
Malspam is any kind of malware spread via spam. Much like advance-fee and phishing emails, malspam relies on social engineering to trick recipients into taking some kind of action, often against our better judgment, like clicking a download link, or opening an attachment contained in the email that infects your computer with malware. Malware payloads vary greatly. The malware payload may enslave your computer into a botnet for the purposes of sending out more spam.
More often than not the payload will be a Trojan.
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As we noted in our Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques Report , the majority of malware attacks in for both businesses and consumers were identified as Trojans of some kind. Banking Trojans, for example, are designed to steal sensitive financial information off your computer.
Legal Threats Make Powerful Phishing Lures
And in an interesting twist, some Trojans, e. Emotet and TrickBot , are now being used as a delivery mechanism for other malware, like ransomware , adware , spyware , or cryptojackers. Have you ever received a robocall? What about a text message from an unknown sender attempting to sell something, maybe even containing a link to who knows what? Welcome to the hellacious world of mobile spam.
Now that mobile devices are commonplace, and Internet calling VOIP is cheap, spammers have a whole new way to spew out unwanted communication. The Android userbase alone includes more than 2 billion users for cybercriminals to target. The most common mobile phone scams, as reported by USA Today, are prerecorded scam messages purportedly from banks, credit card companies, cable companies, and debt collectors.
Naturally, retrieving the document costs money.
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Here's a sample letter, courtesy of antivirus software company Malwarebytes, which researches this and other scams:. Lets get right to point. Neither anyone has paid me to investigate you. You may not know me and you are probably thinking why you're getting this e-mail? While you were viewing videos, your web browser began working as a Remote Desktop that has a keylogger which gave me accessibility to your display and also cam. Just after that, my software gathered every one of your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook, as well as email. First alternative is to just ignore this message.
Lets name it as a donation. You could carry on daily life like this never occurred and you surely will never hear back again from me. It's a commodity attack," he said. Criminals don't need any hacking skills at all to pull off sextortion.
SPAM: stupid pointless annoying…malware?
They can simply rely on leaked email addresses stolen from huge companies and email providers in the last decade. In the slightly more sophisticated version of the crime, scammers buy "dirt cheap" passwords associated with those emails and include the password in the subject line as an additional lure, falsely claiming they have used the password to access sensitive information about you.
But it's all fake. The only reason it works so well, Sopori said, is because "People, especially young people, have come to believe there's no such thing as privacy anymore.