US Congress members have been banned from using Yahoo Mail after a series of ransomware attacks were found to be targeting the emails of those in the House of Representatives.
According to a leaked memo, IT and support teams on Capitol Hill issued a notification to all House staff at the end of April detailing news that they had noticed a dramatic increase in the number of attempts to try and block users from accessing their own files through Yahoo Mail and other web mail services. The result was that the site was blocked until further notice.
The news comes in wake of a report by security firm Symantec which said that the number of instances of phishing had decreased drastically in the last three years but the number of cases involving ransomware – which encrypts the files of users and demands money in order to be able to unlock them had increased by 35% in 2015 alone. Attempts are certainly being made by Gmail and Yahoo Mail to reduce this but some still seem to be slipping through the cracks.
Congress’ IT said that the recent attacks it discovered appeared to come from known senders and included emails with what looked like legitimate attachments sent in the forum of zip files, which made it more difficult to avoid opening the malicious emails.
It has certainly become apparent that Yahoo Mail needs to increase its defences to reduce the number of instances occurring. Yahoo said in a statement that its “collaborating closely with House IT staff to ensure that they have the right solutions in place to best protect their accounts.”