Increase in malicious spam after WannaCry ransonware attack, report says

Cyber criminals using public's fear over cyber attacks to their advantage by sending emails offering protection

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The volume of malicious spam increased by 17 per cent in the second quarter of this year as cyber criminals preyed on public fears following the WannaCry ransomware attack, a report has found.

The distribution of general spam also rose by 56.9 per cent in the same time period, according to cyber security company Kaspersky Lab.

“During the second quarter of the year, we have seen that the main trends in spam and phishing attacks have continued to grow,” said Darya Gudkova, spam analyst expert at Kaspersky.

The WannaCry cyber attack affected more than 200,000 computer systems across the globe in May as hackers used malware to encrypt data and demand a ransom in the form of online payments from users for the safe return of the information.

The report, Spam and phishing in Q2 2017, said spammers "instantly capitalised on the opportunity" by blasting emails offering protection from WannaCry attacks, data recovery and educational workshops and courses. The links embedded in these messages redirected users to phishing pages, where their personal data is stolen.


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“The use of WannaCry in mass mailings proves that cyber criminals are very attentive and reactive to international events,” said Ms Gudkova. “[They] 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.”

Within the past three months, the number of mass mailings targeting corporations have also been on the rise, according to the report, as the spam has taken the disguise of company communication to trick employees into downloading attachments or clicking on links.

Researchers also detected a growth in number of mass mailings with malicious Trojans. These were embedded in spam falsely sent on behalf of international delivery services. In these cases, spammers sent fake shipping reports with information about parcel deliveries meant to prompt recipients to download links with malware.