Hackers using post-Brexit crisis to target Brits with malware

Following the results of the Brexit referendum, hackers have been targeting Brits with malware-filled e-mails promising protection against an impending financial crisis.

Security firm Digital Shadows noticed a spurt in click-bait and marketing emails related to the Brexit fallout.

Usually, hackers use e-mails with attractive and juicy subject lines to invite people to click on them. Once they do, they are asked to download or open certain files which are meant to be informative or useful content and in some cases, shown as e-mails from genuine service providers like WhatsApp or Google. Such attachments are usually malware which are used by hackers to gain root control of devices and to steal information like contacts, banking information, passwords and addresses which are then sold in the dark market.

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The Brexit referendum, which has gained tremendous media attention as well as of the masses, is now an ideal tool for hackers to target unsuspecting users who are curious to know what the referendum may lead to, politically as well as economically. Users are thus more inclined to click on Brexit-related content compared to other marketing subjects.

"We have certainly noted an increase in the use of Brexit-related topics in emails designed to encourage users to click on content since last Friday’s referendum," said James Chappel, co-founder and chief technology officer of Digital Shadows to The Daily Mail. "A common ploy being used by cyber criminals is to send emails that refer to 'Brexit causes historic market drop' designed to create urgency in the recipient to click on a link or open an attachment as a means of delivering the malware."

"We advise all consumers to exercise caution. Do not open attachments or click on links and delete this type of email straight away," he added. This basically implies that no mater how genuine an unsolicited e-mail or text may appear, you would be wise to contact a financial expert yourself rather than click on such e-mails to find answers related to the Brexit fallout or fluctuations in the pound.

LinkedIn connections could just be lurking hackers

Last month, it came to light that a number of hackers were using LinkedIn to target unsuspecting users as well as corporate networks. "When a person in a similar industry to us, or a recruiter, requests to connect on LinkedIn, it may look harmless, but hackers prey on this as a means to target senior level professionals and ultimately the corporate network," said Raj Samani, CTO of EMEA at Intel Security.

"Social networking sites are a treasure trove of data used by malicious actors in order to research potential targets for attacks, not only requesting to connect with senior executives but as many junior or mid-level employees at a company as possible. They then target senior level execs, using their existing connections with colleagues as proof of credibility by leveraging the principle of social validation. Once these connections are in place they can launch a targeted phishing campaign," he added.

As per Intel's research, one in every four Brits admitted that they connect with unknown people on LinkedIn. What's worse, most companies don't make their employees aware of their corporate policies on social media, nor do they advise employees not to trust unknown connections or not to open unknown links and attachments.

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