We have all seen the 80’s horror films where a masked man carrying a hatchet is chasing someone through the woods, and for some reason the inevitable victim stumbles, slows down or simply stops to scream into the camera. Or the movie where a van full of naïve teenagers stalls down the road from the only house for miles. Despite the house looking abandoned, the kids venture over looking for a phone to call someone for help. They stumble inside the house, only to find things are actually worse on the inside. If you’re like me, you wonder why these victims continue to open the door, go to the scary house and put themselves in the same predicament. After all, didn’t the same monster ruin the lives of 14 other victims in well publicized events the same way in the first three installments of the film?
With newer horror movies, the formula remains the same, even though with computer graphics and special effects, the villains, chase scenes and unhappy endings are a bit more complex. Fortunately, there is always at least one person who survives and is able with his or her best effort to vanquish the chainsaw welding masked man. Just when you think the disfigured dream stalker with the razor-fingered glove is gone, he is brought back to life and united with the hockey mask wearing degenerate. No matter how much some of us may want it, filmmakers find it hard to retire the classics.
Since we are coming up on Halloween, these classic horror films are being recycled on late night TV, while the next generation of scary movies is making their way to the big screen. As we are fighting daily against the evil throngs of spammers, it is easy to compare the formulaic horror film with the tactics of the cybercriminals and degenerates we at St. Bernard are combating every day.
The knife welding, masked bad guy with a single focus of seeking revenge is not unlike the spammers and phishers who try relentlessly to get access to personal or company private information. The clumsy movie victims that open the door, visit the house or let in the dubious stranger are not unlike many of today’s email users who regardless of the obvious signs and well publicized nightmares of individuals and companies still decide to open the email, click on the link or download the attachment in emails.
The formula of horror films have not changed over the years, and the formula for spammers still remains fairly true to its origins. Certainly, technology has changed both films and spam, but just as the villains from horror movies past and present are simply waiting for the victim to run outside by themselves barefoot in the woods, spammers continue to wait for just one victim to open the doors to financial or confidential information that can certainly ruin lives and businesses.
Like the villains that continue to come back to life and/or unite with other film monsters to make circumstances even more difficult for the films unsuspecting victims, criminals are increasingly recycling old viruses and exploits, using blended threat phishing and virus attacks to make things more difficult for email users. Just as combating seemingly immortal monsters takes new tools and methods, fighting spam today requires email security that can react to the ever-changing, increasingly more sophisticated tactics of cybercriminals. We are still fighting the classics, but today, they are masked in packaging from spoofed brands that users have come to trust and use on a daily basis. Not unlike horror film villains, with spammers spoofing Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, eBay or Xbox Live, sometimes you have to look behind the mask to see the really ugly part.
So, this Halloween season as you open the door to masked Trick-or-Treaters, walk-up to haunted houses or simply spend time in dark, fog-filled forests, remember, invite them in, go in and scream into the camera, but please don’t open the email from the complete stranger and download the attachment containing the scary Halloween sounds. It might be a trick.