Long Con or Domino Effect: Beware the Secondary Attack
Blog Article Published: 01/12/2017
By Jeremy Zoss, Managing Editor, Code42 Lightning may not strike twice, but cybercrime certainly does. The latest example: A year after the major hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), cyber criminals are again targeting individuals impacted by the OPM breach with ransomware attacks. In the new attack, a phishing email impersonates an OPM official, warning victims of possible fraud and asking them to review an attached document—which, of course, launches the ransomware. OPM attack part of bigger trends in ransomware The new round of attacks could come from two sources—both are part of trends in ransomware.
- The long con: The first scenario is that the same individuals that executed the original OPM hack are now launching these ransomware attacks. If this is the case, it at least alleviates some concerns that the OPM hack was state-sponsored cyberterrorism and/or a sign of a new kind of “cold war.” But the trend toward this type of “long con” is scary in its own right. Users are already more likely than ever to “click the link”—now patient cyber criminals are using hacked data to deploy extremely authentic phishing scams.
- The “kick ‘em while they’re down” attack: It’s more likely that the OPM ransomware attack is just an example of enterprising cybercriminals seeing vulnerability in the already-victimized. This is another unsettlingly effective trend—like “ambulance chasing” for cybercriminals: Follow the headlines to find organizations that have recently been hit with a cyberattack (of any kind), then swoop in posing as official “help” in investigating or preventing further damage. Clever cybercriminals know they can prey on the anxiety, fear and uncertainty of users in this position.
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