'Windows 10 Free Update' Fake Message Description
One characteristic of the fight against threat creators and distributors is that they constantly come up with new strategies to take advantage of current events and breaking news in order to trick computer users into downloading and executing threatening content. Most campaigns rely on social engineering approaches that trick inexperienced computer users into installing threats themselves, and may be based on creating content that becomes irresistible for computer users. One of the latest threat campaigns involves the use of a Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message, which takes advantage of the fact that Microsoft released Windows 10 in the Summer of 2015 as a cost-free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8. The fact that many computer users have to wait to receive this upgrade may increase their chances of falling for this trick, since the Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message is designed to lure inexperienced PC users into thinking that they can 'skip to the front of the line.'
Why You should Ignore the Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' Message
The Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message may try to convince computer users that they can Update to Windows 10 through an email message. However, there are several things that are suspicious about the Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message. If one looks closely, the address seems to come from Microsoft but is spoofed or fake. This fake address is designed to trick computer users into reading the remainder of the message. If one looks deeper into the email header, one finds that rather than being associated with Microsoft, the Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message was sent from an IP address located in Thailand. The appearance of the Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message is designed to make it seem official, mimicking the layout and color scheme associated with legitimate messages from Microsoft. There are several character errors and grammar issues that should raise a red flag right away. The Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message claims that it is necessary to download and execute an attached file, which supposedly was scanned by an anti-virus program.
The Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' Message Contains a Threatening File Attachment
The file attached to the Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message is a ZIP archive that when extracted, executes a ransomware infection. The Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message is used to distribute the CTB-Locker, a ransomware infection that is designed to encrypt the victim's files and then hold their files for ransom until a hefty ransom payment is made. This ransomware variant demands payment using Tor and Bitcoin and uses an encryption algorithm that is slightly different from the common variants of these types of infections. Victims of this ransomware infection are given 96 hours to pay for the decryption, much less than usual. There are also some irregularities in the types of network connections that this infection establishes when compared to other, more common ransomware variants.
Protecting Yourself from the Fake "Windows 10 Free Update" Message and Similar Tactics
Ransomware infections are among the most important threats today, particularly because they have proved to be an effective method of monetizing threat infections. The most effective defense against these kinds of threats is backing up all important data using offline and external backup methods. Cyber hackers may try to use current events to make their social engineering attacks more effective. This means that computer users need to be vigilant and learn to recognize common tactics such as the Fake 'Windows 10 Free Update' message for what they really are. Education and prevention are the keys to dealing with these kinds of attacks.