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15 Mar 2016
Steep rise in malware scams in the Netherlands

The number of email scams involving malicious software has risen by a factor of five in the Netherlands in just a short space of time.

The first half of March saw a spectacular growth of malware scams, rising to 10 percent of the total number of email scams, compared to 2 percent in January and February.

The figures were released by Fraud Help Desk on Tuesday following analysis of all scam emails reported to the organisation since the start of the year. Nearly 2,900 out of the 30,000 spoof emails forwarded to valse-email@fraudehelpdesk.nl so far in March were found to contain malicious software. In February, the volume of malware scams was 1000 out of 47,000 emails; in January, it was 750 out of 33,000 fake messages. Last year, the incidence was only a few tenths of a percent.

Fraud Help Desk General Manager Fleur van Eck speaks of a new trend: “Cyber criminals are getting more active: they are increasingly using malware in their attempts to steal personal information or banking data. After all, phishing emails are a passive way to achieve that goal.”

Malware can nestle on a computer, tablet or smartphone when the recipients click on a link given in a scam email or open a file attached to it. The consequences for these victims vary. Ransomware such as the Locky-virus, for example, has been designed to encrypt documents. Viruses known as Trojans undermine the security of a computer or network, making the user vulnerable to all sorts of threats.

It is important that email users are aware of the dangers and able to recognise scam emails. They should be vigilant when receiving email from senders they don’t know and think twice before clicking on any links or opening files attacked to these messages.

Designed by criminals to angle for login credentials or other personal information, phishing emails constitute the largest group of email scams. A third type are fake invoices, which inform recipients that they have failed to pay a traffic fine or phone bill. These fake reminder notifications are also regularly used to spread malware.

For more information, please contact Tjerk Notten by calling +31 (0)55 5051021

Here are some examples:

 

Photo © andyspuc/Flickr.com, CC BY-NC 2.0.