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In times of great social importance, it’s common for predators to strike. True to form, cyber criminals have developed a brand new scam this summer, and it targets the millions of Americans who now work from their home computers.
If you work from home, you could be a target of the new Russian ransomware scam
“Russian hackers are attacking work-from-home employees in record numbers,” confirmed Adam Levin, cyber security expert and founder of Cyberscout, to Yahoo Life. A Russian hacking group called Evil Corp. is at the helm of the scam, which aims to infiltrate remote workers’ vulnerable WiFi networks.
Between 62 and 64 percent of Americans are now working from home, according to SHRM’s COVID-19 Business Index and a recent Gallup poll. Compare that to just 7 percent before the coronavirus pandemic emerged. Evil Corp. has done what many cyber criminals do: identify a mass weak spot and prey upon it.
“We are now in the middle of what can be considered a perfect storm when it comes to scams,” Levin told Yahoo Life. “We have the COVID disaster combined with the economic disaster combined with the protests.” He said this confluence of events gives hackers a ripe opportunity to pounce.
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“Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts critical data on a computer or computer network so that users can’t regain access without paying a ‘ransom,’” Levin explained, adding that payment does not even guarantee safety. “Once a hacker is in possession of targeted data, it can be sold on the dark web, used to commit other crimes, or released to the general public.”
Symantec Corporation confirmed that the end goal of these new ransomware attacks “is to cripple the victim’s IT infrastructure by encrypting most of their computers and servers in order to demand a multimillion dollar ransom.” The hackers responsible have already been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice multiple times.
The Russian ransomware scam may be one of the newest threats on the radar, but it’s certainly not an isolated incident. Between 2018 and 2019, incidents of ransomware detections in business environments rose by 365 percent, according to cyber security firmCSO. This year, home has become the new business environment for millions of Americans, changing the game entirely.
“2020 has already been a record-breaking year for ransomware attacks,” Levin said. “It has never been more crucial to be armed with good cyber hygiene practices and a steady flow of information of the threats they face on a daily basis.”
The newest hackers are so sneaky, they “identify employees who are using hard-to-hack cybersecurity tools (like VPNs),” said Levin. “Then they wait for them to log off the VPN, targeting non-work Internet traffic to install ransomware. Because many work-from-home employees are using the same computer for work and everyday tasks, networks are infected.”
These attacks on American companies not only force their hands, but the networks potentially connected to national infrastructure may be getting compromised. This includes election systems, Levin said.
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