Prevent being scammed by the WannaCry hacker group email scam
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is "WannaCry hacker group Email Scam"?
As its name suggests, "WannaCry hacker group Email Scam" is an email scam. It uses a form of blackmail known as "sextortion" in which it extorts money from people by threatening to reveal evidence of sexual activity. In this particular case, it claims that the evidence was obtained through the user's webcam.
It states that this footage will be distributed unless funds are transferred to an account provided within a specific time frame. It should be stressed that these claims are false and cyber criminals behind this scam do not have any compromising material. Ignore all emails of this type.
The email entitled "Keep your secrets safe!" declares that it is from a representative of the WannaCry hacker group, and that they have hacked the recipient's OS (operating system) and email account. They supposedly have done so by hacking one of the email service provider's servers and consequently gained access to the user's account.
Through it, they allege to have infected the victim's OS. In doing so, they have gathered details of all of the user's contacts (e.g. family, relatives, friends, colleagues, etc.) and threaten to send explicit evidence of the recipient's sexual activity to them.
The compromising material is supposedly footage recorded by the device's webcam when the user was apparently visiting adult websites (i.e., when pornographic content was viewed). They further proclaim that unless $550 worth in Bitcoin cryptocurrency is transferred to them within 60 hours, they will send the video evidence to all of the recipient's email and messenger contacts.
If payment is made, the alleged footage will be destroyed. Remember that these threats are false and the scammers behind this email have not obtained any compromising content. Additionally, none of the infections they mention are present on the victim's device. Do not trust these emails and simply ignore them.
|Name||"WannaCry hacker group" email spam campaign|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Criminals claim that they have infected the recipient's computer with a remote access tool (RAT) and stolen all of the victim's contacts. Additionally, they claim to have recorded the user watching adult content and "pleasuring himself". To prevent criminals from sending the recording to the aforementioned contacts, each recipient is encouraged to pay $550 using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.|
|Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address||18JbdkskQSNFP9DrcCp9txLMFJCyPwEPXg (Bitcoin), 12byutpYf1xpH8fR4qBj4833x2t94rSr8X (Bitcoin)|
|Symptoms||Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.|
|Damage||Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
These emails are distributed by the thousand and are often spread through massive scale spam campaigns. Extortion and ransom demands are not the only types online. The context varies from blackmail attempts, various "important" alerts, to "prize" announcement and hundreds of others.
Some scams similar to the "WannaCry hacker group email scam" include "This is important information for you", "The last time you visited a Porn website", "Looked at you for several months" and "So I'm the hacker who broke your email".
Usually, sextortion scams claim to have obtained compromising and humiliating videos or screenshots/photos of the victim, which will be released unless ransoms are paid. They typically ask for payment in a currency that is hard to trace. For example, cryptocurrency, prepaid vouchers, and similar.
Email scam objectives also differ but include the proliferation of malicious content, through various email attachments. Examples of malware (malicious software) furthered through such scams include TrickBot, FormBook, Pony, and LokiBot.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
Email spam campaigns can cause system infections only through file attachments or website links, which lead to them. The attachments can be in a wide variety of formats.
How to avoid installation of malware
Never open/download/install attached files or follow web links in emails, sent from unknown and dubious addresses. Do not open untrustworthy and suspicious emails. Typically, these claim to be urgent or important, whether by making criminal threats or by posing as official sources.
Regardless of appearance, unknown/irrelevant emails should not be trusted. Use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. These versions have "Protected View" mode that prevent infectious documents from downloading/installing malicious software. To ensure device integrity and user safety, treat all received emails and the attachments/links with caution.
To prevent downloading malicious content, use official and verified download sources. Do not use peer-to-peer sharing networks or other third party downloaders. Do not use software 'cracking' tools, since they are illegal and can often lead to installation of malware. Be attentive when installing and updating software.
Use legitimate, official antivirus and/or anti-spyware programs for additional system protection. This software should be used to perform regular scans and kept up-to-date. If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the "WannaCry hacker group email scam" email message:
Subject: Keep your secrets safe!
I am a representative of the WannaCry hacker group.
In the period from 24/06/2019 to 11/09/2019 we got access to your account ******** by hacking one of the ******* mail servers.
You already changed the password?
Sumptuously! But my program fixes this every time. And every time I know your new password!
Using access to your account, it turned out to be easy to infect the OS of your device.
At the moment, all your contacts are known to us. We also have access to your messengers and to your correspondence.
All this information is already stored with us.
We are also aware of your intimate adventures on the Internet.
We know that you adore adult sites and we know about your sexual addictions.
You have a very interesting and special taste (you understand what I mean).
While browsing these sites, your device's camera automatically turns on.
Video-record you and what you watch is being save.
After that, the video clip is automatically saved on our server.
At the moment, several analogy video records have been collected.
From the moment you read this letter, after 60 hours, all your contacts on this email box and in your instant messengers will receive these clips and files with your correspondence.
If you do not want this, transfer 550$ to our Bitcoin cryptocurrency wallet: 18JbdkskQSNFP9DrcCp9txLMFJCyPwEPXg, 12byutpYf1xpH8fR4qBj4833x2t94rSr8X
I guarantee that we will then destroy all your secrets!
As soon as the money is in our account - your data will be immediately destroyed!
If no money arrives, files with video and correspondence will be sent to all your contacts.
You decide... Pay or live in hell out of shame...
We believe that this whole story will teach you how to use gadgets properly!
Everyone loves adult sites, you're just out of luck.
For the future - just cover a sticker your device's camera when you visit adult sites!
Take care of yourself!
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- What is WannaCry Hacker Group spam?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious emails:
Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.
Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.
After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.
Emails with Malicious Attachments
Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.
In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.
If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.
While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.
This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.
To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.
How to spot a malicious email?
While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:
- Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
- Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
- Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
- Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.
To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
Example of a spam email:
What to do if you fell for an email scam?
- If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
- If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
- If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
- If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
- Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.
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