Knoxville Hit By Ransomware – Do You Have The Same Vulnerability They Did?
The city of Knoxville is the latest victim in a seemingly never-ending series of ransomware attacks. Malware took their internal systems offline on June 18, disconnecting city employees from their networks.
While city officials maintain that no citizen data was affected, the attack has still had a major effect on the cities operations, for example, forcing the police department to take down reports with pen and paper while the systems are down.
Officials believe the attack stems from when an employee opened a seemingly legitimate email and entered their private information, likely giving hackers access to the city’s systems.
The Ongoing Threat Of Ransomware
Are you tired of hearing about ransomware yet?
Unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere. Major ransomware attacks like the one in Knoxville keep happening for one simple reason: they’re effective. You’ve probably heard plenty about what a ransomware attack can cost an organization like yours. According to Beasley Breach Response’s 2019 noncompliance report:
- The average ransomware payout is $116,000
- The highest ransomware demanded by cybercriminals was $8.5 million
- The highest ransom paid by a target organization was $935,000
Don’t Make The Same Mistake As Knoxville
The bottom line is that your staff has to understand how to spot phishing emails. Phishing (and all social engineering techniques) is about the element of surprise.
It’s a method in which cybercriminals send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable sources to get recipients to reveal sensitive information and execute significant financial transfers.
How To Spot A Phishing Email
- Check The Right Fields: If you’re unsure about an email, check the details on the email itself – specifically the “mailed-by” and “signed-by”, both of which should match the domain of the sender’s address.
- Suspicious Links: Always be sure to hover your mouse over a link in an email before clicking it. That allows you to see where it leads. While it may look harmless, the actual URL may show otherwise, so always look, and rarely click.
- Spelling and Grammar: Modern cybersecurity awareness comes down to paying attention to the details. When reading a suspicious email, keep an eye out for any typos or glaring errors. Whereas legitimate messages from your bank or vendors would be edited appropriately, phishing emails are notorious for basic spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- Specificity: Another point to consider is how vague the email is. Legitimate senders will likely have your information already (such as your first name) and will use it in the salutation. Scammers will often employ vaguer terminology, such as “Valued Customer” – this allows them to use the same email for multiple targets in a mass attack.
- Urgent and Threatening: If the subject line makes it sound like an emergency — “Your account has been suspended,” or “You’re being hacked” — that’s another red flag. It’s in the scammer’s interest to make you panic and move quickly, which might lead to you overlooking other indicators that it’s a phishing email.
- Attachments: Phishers will often try to get you to open an attachment. If you see an attachment in combination with any of the above indicators, it’s only more proof that the email is likely part of a phishing attempt.
In the end, the key to phishing methodology is that it doesn’t rely on digital security vulnerabilities or cutting edge hacking technology; phishing targets the user, who, without the right training, will always be a security risk, regardless of the IT measures set in place.
Brian Gray, MCP, is the President at Kraft Technology Group, LLC (KTG), an affiliate of KraftCPAs PLLC. Within his role, Brian is responsible for all aspects of service delivery to our clients. Brian has a decade of experience working for managed service providers. He has worked with clients in a variety of industries, including financial services, accounting, legal, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.