Ransomware has become a major problem in the last few years – statistics vary, but everyone agrees that the number of attacks increased several fold in 2016, and several fold again in 2017.  They inflicted over a billion dollars of damage.  Investigators are especially susceptible to ransomware attacks, both because the information they collect is not easily replaceable, and also because it’s extremely sensitive.  Are your employee inboxes destined to cause a major problem for your agency this year?


While the biggest threat is your email inbox (over 90% of all attacks are initiated by email) emails are much less likely to cause ransomware infections if employees are trained on what to avoid when using their computers.  According to a recent Datto study, over one-third of technology companies felt that poor training was the leading cause of ransomware distribution.

Just how badly is training needed?  A Verizon study from a couple of years ago found that 11 percent of people open phishing attachments, and it takes only 82 seconds for a phishing campaign to ‘hook’ its first victim.  People have likely gotten a little better than they were in 2015 about asking questions before they open attachments – but even if that number was cut in half, virtually every company would have an employee opening attachments to phishing emails every month!

To avoid this fate, train your users on the signs of a phishing attempt, and what to do to stay safe.  Here are a few examples users should know about.

Be skeptical of non-standard domains.  If a link claims to be to Amazon, make sure it’s to Amazon.com, not Aamazon.com, or Amazon-us-store.com.  These types of websites are set up to look legitimate but often are not.

Look out for grammar mistakes.  Cybercriminals can write brilliant code, but many of them are terrible with the English language.  If a major company is sending you an email, it’s not going to have egregious spelling or grammar mistakes.

Be wary if the message is unlike any you’ve gotten from that sender before.  If you’ve gotten an email from the Human Resources department, and it’s the first one that’s ever been signed “Thanks, HR” instead of a person’s name, that’s a bad sign.  The same is true if it’s coming from an internal email address you’ve never seen, such as HR@Company.com.  Don’t open these types of emails until you ask if they were sent by someone in your company first.

To learn how CMTS can help your agency better align its people, processes and workflows, call WingSwept at 919.600.5102 or email Team_CMTS@WingSwept.com.