The FBI issued an alert on June 23rd that data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center shows CryptoWall ransomware is continuing to scourge American businesses and individuals alike. The FBI has received nearly 1000 complaints since April 2014 from victims reporting a loss of over $18 million.
Eastern European cybercriminals typically use phishing emails with attachments, infected advertisements or redirects to a bad website to hook their targets and get them infected with the ransomware. Files and entire networks can then be held hostage by encrypting them and demanding a ransom from $200 to $10,000 to decrypt the data, preventing its use until the fee is paid using the Bitcoin e-currency.
According to KnowBe4’s CEO Stu Sjouwerman, “CryptoWall 3.0 is the most advanced crypto-ransom malware at the moment. The $18 million in losses is likely much more, as many companies do not report their infections to the FBI and the downtime caused by these infections is much higher.” Sjouwerman further stated, “Additional damage is caused when a workstation is infected and has a mapped drive to a shared file server. At that point all the files are encrypted and a whole department is sitting on their hands. The impact to a business can be devastating.”
Sjouwerman noted that the current social engineering tactic is attaching a zip file that claims to be the resume of a girl. Opening the zip file shows a page, that then downloads another zip file which bypasses all antivirus software that may be installed on the local workstation.
KnowBe4 recently developed a test template to train users how to avoid such scams as CryptoWall 3.0 based on the experiences of a new customer. Based on this campaign, the new banking customer turned the resume into a “teller resume” with a docx attachment and had a whopping 60% of those employing receiving it open the attachment.
Sjouwerman offers these tips on staying safe:
“1. Backup your data in multiple places. And test the restore function of your backup regularly.
2. Don’t open anything you did not ask for. When it doubt, throw it out.
3. Practice defense-in-depth. Start with security awareness training that includes simulated phishing attacks to continuously remind employees of the risks. Add to this security measures at the firewall, network, computer, application and data layers.”
Sjouwerman added, “This clearly shows the employee is the weak link in IT security and there is a dire need for effective security awareness training as the first line of defense in preventing ransomware infections.with the potential to shut down a business. Furthermore, we are so confident our security awareness training program works, we’ll pay your ransom in Bitcoin if you get hit with ransomware while you are a customer.”