Fraudsters are posing government officials in order to trick people into installing ransomware which encrypts files on victim’s computers.
Fraudsters are initially cold calling education establishments claiming to be from the “Department of Education”. They then ask to be given the personal email and/or phone number of the head teacher/financial administrator.
The fraudsters claim that they need to send guidance forms to the head teacher (these so far have varied from exam guidance to mental health assessments).
The scammers on the phone will claim that they need to send these documents directly to the head teacher and not to a generic school inbox, using the argument that they contain sensitive information.
The emails will include an attachment - a .zip file (potentially masked as an Excel or Word document). This attachment will contain ransomware, that once downloaded will encrypt files and demand money (up to £8,000) to recover the files.
It should be noted that similar scam attempts have been made recently by fraudsters claiming to be from the Department for Work and Pensions and telecoms providers (in this case they need to speak to the head teacher about ‘internet systems’).
Having up-to-date virus protection is essential; however it will not always be able to prevent you from becoming infected.