Hackers Email Bogus Tax Threats To Spread Ransomware

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Tax season can be pretty stressful, but malicious hackers don't care. As the filing deadline approaches, they'll ramp up their efforts to steal personal information and infect computers using tax-related scams. One nasty campaign that's been spotted recently tries to convince potential victims that they're late paying real estate taxes.
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Fortunately all that's nasty about it is the payload. The emails spotted by security researcher Derek Knight contain a variant of Rapid Ransomware. It does what pretty much all other ransomware does. It encrypts certain types of files on your computer (things like photos, videos, and documents) and then demands a payment from you to get them back.
According to Bleeping Computer, the only way to decrypt files that have been locked away by Rapid Ransowmare is to pay the ransom. No free recovery tools exist as of yet.

The good news is that you should have no trouble spotting this scam if it hits your inbox. There are several red flags that are very hard to miss.
For starters, the email claims to be from the IRS. The IRS is based in the U.S. and yet the emails are sent from an address that ends with .co.uk -- and there is definitely no IRS field office in the United Kingdom that's keeping tabs on Americans' real estate taxes.
Derek Knight/MyOnlineSecurity.Co.Uk
The strangest email from the "IRS" that you'll ever see/Derek Knight

Then there's the attachment. It's in German. The attacker wants you to believe that a Word document in German sent from a U.K. email address is really from the IRS. Hopefully that's more than enough to convince you to delete the message and purge it from your deleted items without giving it any further consideration. If not, there are other very clear signs that this message is nothing but trouble.
The IRS will never request personal information via email. In fact, the IRS won't even initiate contact with you via email... so if you get an email out of the blue claiming to be from the IRS, you know it's a trap.