There is a massive, scary new phishing email attack underway that you must know about. As many as 100 million people have already been targeted with ransomware that's being used to steal your money.
The problem is, it's really easy to get fooled. An unknown hacker or crime ring with sophisticated computer skills is sending out emails that are catching the attention of Microsoft Word users and Amazon shoppers.
These emails are so convincing, people all across the country are falling for these attacks that are installing ransomware on their computers.
The short story is this: Do not open any email and click on any attachments that looks like it is from Amazon until you completely read this alert.
Here's what you need to know:
This attack starts with one Amazon email. It's bogus but looks totally real.
The sender's email address is: Autofirstname.lastname@example.org.
That document asks you to enable macros, which are little computer programs that automate basic computer tasks.
Note: Microsoft warns you with this image (below) when you're being asked to enable macros. Never enable macros unless you created them yourself or you asked a trustworthy person to create them for you.
This is scary. If you do enable the macros, your computer is infected with the Locky ransomware. That's the same ransomware used to encrypt computer files at major corporations, hospitals and more.
In these attacks, you end up paying a lot more than ransom. But it only starts there.
If you are victimized, your computer or certain folders and files will be frozen. The attackers encrypt them, meaning they securely lock your treasured photos and videos, financial records and important documents. It can only be unlocked if you have the encryption key.
The hackers will return access only if you pay them a ransom. They'll send you to an anonymous web browser like Tor and demand to be paid in the untraceable digital currency known as bitcoin. In this Amazon attack, they're demanding you pay the equivalent of $227 to $454.
The problem with these attacks is twofold. The obvious part is they take your money. The less-known part about a lot of ransomware attacks is that the attackers often destroy your files anyway. You may never get access to your own computer again.
These attacks are serious. In fact, the FBI has warned all Americans that ransomware is so difficult to unlock that you may be better off paying the ransom and hoping the criminals give you access to your own computer.
Don't be the next victim. Here's how to stay safe:
- Be on the lookout for these phishing email scam red flags. Keep your guard up; and
- Never enable macros, especially when they're sent to you by someone you don't know; and
- Amazon customers: Click here to report phishing scams (and read important safety tips from Amazon). If you can report it, they have a better chance of getting caught.
This is not last attack. You have to be prepared. Protect all your family's digital devices with the best Internet security system you can get.