It may come as a surprise that the number one source of malware used to catch unsuspecting users is spam emails.
It is certainly an old trick as spam emails have been doing the rounds for 40 years now, but they are still the preferred way of distributing malware, scams and malicious URLs.
An update in tactics
Although the tools are very much the same, cyber criminals have begun to deploy new tricks in an attempt to improve the results of their dangerous emails.
Päivi Tynninen, Threat Intelligence Researcher at F-Secure, goes into more detail on the type of emails that are being sent out in 2018:
“Email spam is once again the most popular choice for sending out malware. Of the spam samples we’ve seen over spring of 2018, 46% are dating scams, 23% are emails with malicious attachments, and 31% contain links to malicious websites. During the past few years, it’s gained more popularity against other vectors, as systems are getting more secure against software exploits and vulnerabilities.”
Click rates on spam emails are increasing, with a current figure of 14.2 per cent being opened in 2018. This shows us that this method of cyber attack is still a very effective one.
How to combat spam emails
Quite simply, the best method is to not open any attachment sent within an unsolicited email. Whether that attachment appears as a link, a download or any kind of interactive button, do not click it without being sure who it is from.
It’s important to remember that cyber criminals are very good at impersonating well known trusted companies, such as banks, so take extra care when opening those messages.
As long as criminals are seeing good results, they will continue with these tried and tested methods of sending out a mass amount of spam emails.
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