It’s 2018, and phishing emails are just an expected part of life for email users around the world, containing all manner of malware within concealed links and dodgy attachments. Most of us can recognise poorly spelled phishing emails that lack any real context, but what happens when something more complex hits your inbox? What if a cyber criminal emailed you your password – a real password you’ve used – and told you that they had compromising videos of you and more? What if they said that unless you pay a Bitcoin ransom, they would share this incriminating footage with everyone on your contacts list? That’s exactly what has been happening to thousands of Irish users, to both personal and corporate email addresses.
Cyber criminals have always targeted users, finding it easier to trick unsuspecting employees than to bypass complex technical security measures – and this trend has been growing steadily the last few years. Identify fraud, where criminals impersonate someone else in order to steal their money or use their account to manipulate others, is now one of the most common types of cyber crime there is. Account takeover attacks, where criminals gain access to a user’s account and use it to send spam or phishing emails, is also on the rise, often allowing malicious emails to bypass email security filters.
Phishing remains one of the most common attack vectors for criminals – one study alarmingly found that 93% of phishing emails contained ransomware
Irish companies are believed to be reporting less than 5% of cyber attacks to police, according to disparities between figure from the Garda cyber crime unit and reports from private cyber security companies. Detective Superintendent and Head of the Garda Nation Cyber Crime Bureau, Michael Gubbins, has said that brand damage and embarrassment are among reasons given by companies for the under-reporting of cyber crime to the Gardai.
Gardai believe that companies are afraid of brand damage, leading to a vast under-reporting of cyber crime to authorities.
Eir is back in hot water again with the Data Protection Commissioner after the company issued a statement stating that it had lost an unencrypted staff laptop containing the details of 37,000 Eir customers. Eir has said that the data contained names, email addresses and customer account number, but that no financial details were compromised in the breach.
Eir is no stranger to data breaches, and has reported having multiple laptops with customer data lost or stolen in the past
A strain of ransomware titled SamSam has earned its handlers over 5.1 million euros to date, according to estimates, since it first began hitting enterprises in 2015. Security firm Sophos has released the data in a report, after tracking the Bitcoin addresses found on SamSam ransom notes and sample files.