Tag Archives: malware

Cyber security awareness: The Facebook feature you will love

facebookprivacytab

 

This month as part of Cyber Security Awareness Month I had the opportunity to talk to expert, Jennifer Jolly about cyber security, especially about being safer and protecting my privacy on Facebook.

“President Obama designated October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. National Cyber Security Awareness Month is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident.”

Jennifer and I discussed:

  • What are three quick steps you can take to help make sure only the people you want can see your stuff?
  • What are some security controls that are available to protect our accounts and privacy?
  • How can login approvals help to keep our Facebook account safe?
  • Why is it so important to have unique passwords for our social media accounts?
  • How can we control what information we share with apps when we login using our Facebook account?
  • Why do we need to periodically review the apps connected to our accounts and clean house? What is an easy way to do this?
  • Where can we go to for more information?

Our interview is audio, so grab a pen and paper and take a few notes. I was surprised at how fast and easy I was able to tighten up the security and privacy settings on my personal Facebook page – and how many apps I had actually given access to. You will be too!

 

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy award-winning consumer tech journalist and “geek speak translator.” She’s one of the nation’s most trusted experts when it comes to reviewing and explaining consumer electronics and the days’ top tech trends. A 20-year broadcast industry veteran, Jennifer writes the weekly New York Times Wired Well column and is the host and syndicated columnist of TechNow. Jennifer is also frequent guest contributor for the Today Show, The Meredith Vieira Show, The Talk, CNN, HLN, Dr. Oz, and the Rachel Ray Show.

When a purchase order email is not what it seems

Image By: Ian Lamont
Image By: Ian Lamont

Today’s award for the least convincing spam message goes to the “purchase order” I received. The funny thing is I don’t sell anything so I’m not sure how it could possibly pertain to me. It just goes to show they grab, harvest or purchase email addresses and then send them out in bulk, sort of like fishing with a bucket of bait. With that much bait you are sure to catch something.

If you receive something like this one, which also has a “zip” file to download my suggestion is to send it to spam and keep going. What are the keys to knowing this isn’t a real purchase interest?

  1. It was in my spam folder – which I do check regularly since sometimes items are mistakenly marked as spam.
  2. The problems with grammar and punctuation.
  3. The fact that I don’t sell any items.
  4. And, that it’s “near” somewhere in Egypt.
  5. That it has a zip file. Beware of downloadable files, links, and images, especially those that come from those you don’t know.

Sample Email below

A dead giveaway is when my spam filler has this in the RE:

****SPAM**** HIGH * Purchase order-
Dear Sir

We are interested to Purchase your product, i got your contact information

from two of our customers.

Please contact us with the following below:-

– Your minimum order quantity.

– Your FOB Prices and FOB Port.

– Your estimated delivery time.

Please fine attached company details and requirements below to preview the samples/specifications needed.

Best Regard
—————————————————————————————————————–
GMCC LTD  IMPORT & EXPORT
Address deleted
Sheraton Bldgs. Heliopolis,Cairo
Landmark:Near To Radisson Blu Cairo Egypt

Lilly Collins is 2013 most dangerous cyber celebrity according to McAfee

52138b9d17c94a2c82116f12fe87bba10a365_640It’s nothing new and she won’t be the first celebrity search term which could land your computer on a page filled with malware, spam, and viruses, but right now she is the hottest.  McAfee advises that “Looking up the ‘Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ star (and daughter of rocker Phil Collins) on the Web gives you about a 14.5% chance of landing on a page that tested positive for spam, adware, spyware, viruses or other malware,” according to a study by Internet security company.   This means you have about a 1 in 7 chance of finding much more that you ever wanted when your search lands you on a page.

Other top ten searches that may give you more than you bargained for are celebrities: Avril Lavigne, Sandra Bullock, Kathy Griffin and Zoe Saldana.  Katy, Perry, Brittany Spears and Emma Roberts are also among the top 10. According to McAfee’s report women celebrities are more likely to land your computer in hot water than searches for men celebrities.

Miley Cyrus came in at number 20 and her twerking performance on the VMA’s caused a surge in searches using her name, as well as a surge in cyber celebrity dangers.  My dad’s computer reported a virus on a site that was supposedly referred to him by a friend, alleging that she had committed suicide.  Of course that old story is well known spam as it has been used far too often, but not often enough to keep it from going viral. Want to know all of the percentages this year for your favorite celebrity?  The Wall Street Journal breaks it down for you so you can see your chances of encountering a celebrity cyber screw up.

McAfee has been providing the “most dangerous celebrity cyber searches” for seven years.  During this time celebrities like Heidi Klum, Emma Watson, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Biel and Selena Gomez have been listed among the most dangerous cyber searches.  Brad Pitt has been one of the men on the top of the list, but the men searches are fewer and far between.

Of course as part of their list, McAfee offers a number of tips and tricks to help you keep your computer from catching more than  cold including:

  • Be cautious of content offering “free” or “too good to be true”
  • Be extra cautious when searching for hot topics.   My recommendation – got to Google Trends and then head to your the topics through there, or only access those sites of “name brand” celebrity news sources.
  • Protect yourself with comprehensive security.  My recommendation, not only should you have a good security system but pay attention to it.  If your system says “STOP” or doesn’t have the check mark next to the link you probably don’t want to visit there.

mcafee site advisor

Do NOT Install Snap.Do!

Just days after receiving and setting up my shiny new laptop computer, I encountered an annoying problem. Suddenly, my homepage was no longer Google. It had seemingly spontaneously changed to something called Snap.Do. It looked similar to Google’s homepage, but with a weird sideways squiggle in the same colors as Google’s logo. At the same time, I started experiencing problems with my flash player.

Snap.Do is published by a company called ReSoft. ReSoft purports itself to be reputable, claiming that Snap.Do is a browser tool for simpler, more efficient web browsing. In reality, it’s part of a sneaky package that will track and use your information. It’s basically a browser hijacker inundated with malware and spyware. It will change your internet settings, collect personal information and work with adware.

Some people buy the ReSoft corporate line and willingly register with Snap.Do, while other users are involuntarily infected by it. It affects Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. Do not intentionally install Snap.Do! It is completely unsafe. If you’ve experienced a hijacking by Snap.Do, you’ll want to immediately remove it from your computer.

You’ll want to go to your control panel and uninstall it. Also, go to your browser settings and delete any search engines related to Snap.Do or ReSoft. Here is a more comprehensive article about Snap.Do and how to completely remove it.

5 Holiday Scams to Avoid

People make more online purchases than usual during the holiday season, giving scammers increased opportunities to steal their money and information. Here are some of the sneakiest holiday scams that we’ve heard about and how to avoid them:

1.) Phony Gift Cards

If you want to buy gift cards for friends or family, the safest way to do it is to purchase them in-store. Scammers will sell them online from legitimate-looking websites or third-party sites at “discounts” or with special promotions. After you buy them, they’ll cancel the card and keep your money.

2.) Fake Public WiFi

While doing your holiday traveling, you may use free public WiFi connections to browse the web. But scammers can set up a fake WiFi connection that closely resembles a free public connection. To avoid having important information stolen, never make sensitive transactions when you’re using public WiFi.

3.) Name-a-Star Offer Continue reading 5 Holiday Scams to Avoid

Smartphone Users Under Attack From Malware

While many smartphone users take extreme care to protect their computers from malware and viruses, the same can’t be said for their smartphones. Many users think of their phones as a mini computer, but still fail to take the proper precautions for protection. With the latest round of malware affecting Android smartphones, it’s plain to see that something needs to be done. Let’s take a closer look at the latest threats as well as how to protect your smartphone.

 The Latest Malware Scams

Two malware scams have recently came to the forefront and it seems the attacks are being targeted at Android smartphones. Named Loozfon and FinFisher, these threats can not only affect your phone, but may affect the phones of your contacts as well. The first piece of malware in question, Loozfon, uses the promise of online work from home jobs to lure smartphone users to the website, where the malware is loaded onto the phone. The malware then accesses the information of the user’s contacts and the user.

FinFisher is a bit different in that the spyware is installed onto the phone in order for the attacker to be able to remotely control the phone. The malware may be placed on the phone after visiting a certain website or the user may receive a text message with a link that leads to a supposedly important update. Of course, both of these scams are just two of the newest malware scams to affect smartphone users. There are many more out there waiting for the opportunity to infect your phone.

How to Keep Your Smartphone Safe Continue reading Smartphone Users Under Attack From Malware

More than one bug can be caught while traveling: Hotel wi-fi dangers

Business travelers won’t leave home without it.   Families take it with them like they would a wallet.  What is it?  It’s a laptop (netbook, tablet, or even an iPad.).  There are many reasons for taking it with us when we travel.  For some it’s staying on top of work and being available to at least respond to emergencies.  For many they can’t leave home or work without it.   Carrying our laptop, just like carrying our wallet comes with it’s own set of dangers.

While visiting my father he asked me to take a look at his laptop.  Ever since they went on vacation it just hadn’t “worked right.”   I asked him if he had his antivirus on “high” and did he use the hotel internet.   Finding out he used the free wi-fi at the resort where he and my mother were staying I knew that the search for a nasty little bug (and I don’t mean a bed bug) was going to take some time and possibly even the help of a professional.

The FBI recently released this statement about  hotel Wi-Fi dangers:

Malware Installed on Travelers’ Laptops Through Software Updates on Hotel Internet Connections

The FBI warns that “malicious actors are targeting travelers abroad through pop-up windows while they are establishing an Internet connection in their hotel rooms.”

How does this work?  Simply speaking, you are trying to connect to the wi-fi system in your hotel room.  For many that still means a cord (Ethernet) for others it is simply detecting the network of where you are staying.   The next step usually involves connecting to the hotel’s network by providing a password at a prompt on screen or on the internet browser window.  While you are doing this a screen pops up and says something like “you must update your …. (insert program here) in order to use this system.”   A click or two later and your laptop is going to encounter a “bug” or two.

The most convincing part of this program is, as the FBI warns, “The pop-up window appeared to be offering a routine update to a legitimate software product for which updates are frequently available.”

We’ve talked before about the dangers of internet use while traveling, especially when it pertains to wi-fi services.  Maybe the hotel wi-fi service is “spotty.”  Maybe your USB drive is stolen .  Maybe your restaurant or coffee shop that you are working from, like Starbucks, experiences a security breach.  Avoid putting your computer at risk by using your own hot spot connection.  Make sure to put your anti virus and malware programs on high.  Avoid third party cookies.   Check digital certificates before downloading any software program. Perform updates on your system before you leave and in most cases you shouldn’t have to do one again until after you return home.

If you have been a target of a malware “attack”  the FBI asks that you report it to IC3’s website at www.IC3.gov. The IC3’s complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. The complaint information is also used to identify emerging trends and patterns and to help protect us from every emerging tech type scams.

Find out what other steps you can take to keep your computer safe, from Kapersky Labs.

Did your DNS change for the worse? Make sure you aren’t getting the wrong Internet address

Don’t want to lose your Internet services?  Then check your DNS for malware.  Sound “Greek” to you?  Then this statement from the FBI should get your attnetion.

“To assist victims affected by the DNSChanger malicious software, the FBI obtained a court order authorizing the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) to deploy and maintain temporary clean DNS servers. This solution is temporary, providing additional time for victims to clean affected computers and restore their normal DNS settings. The clean DNS servers will be turned off on July 9, 2012, and computers still impacted by DNSChanger may lose Internet connectivity at that time.”

As part of a two year long investigation, the FBI arrested and charged six Estonian nationals with running a sophisticated, and fraudulent Internet ring.

The indictment, said Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of our New York office, “describes an intricate international conspiracy conceived and carried out by sophisticated criminals.” She added, “The harm inflicted by the defendants was not merely a matter of reaping illegitimate income.”

This cyber band of thieves used malware called DNSChanger to:

  • infect approximately 4 million computers in more than 100 countries.
  • 500,000 infections in the U.S. (individuals, companies and even NASA)
  • using and manipulating Internet advertising they generated at least $14 million in stolen fees
  • some instances kept the users’ anti-virus software and operating systems from updating, pulling those machines infected by DNSChanger at risk for more malicious software.

DNS  (Domain Name System) is an Internet service that converts domain names into IP addresses.  It’s what causes the computers to “talk” to each other so that you may use your computer to visit a site.  Without them you would not have any Internet service including email, social networking or access to websites.  Criminals have learned that if they can control a DNS, then they can control where you visit, even sending you to sites that you had no intention of visiting or phony sites set up to shadow a real one and collect information and private data from you.

Sometimes those computers that have been subject to DNS malware (software that is malicious) find that that is not the only malware on their computer or hacking its way into their systems.

Checking your DNS to make sure that it is safe from malware is important because without it you could lose your Internet services.  While it is best and most effectively tested through a computer professional,  it is possible to check you DNS yourself for malware.    The other forms of malware may be stealing your username and passwords and sending them off for others to use for fraudulent reasons like identity theft, credit cards and even medical treatment.

You can visit the FI website to check your DNS and make sure that you continue to have the “all clear” to use the Internet.    There are testing sites available in a variety of languages.  For those that want to test their systems on their own there is a helpful PDF instruction booklet available that will walk you through the various steps needed to test your DNS no matter what time of system you may be operating.

So I did just that.  I thought better safe than sorry and while I didn’t consult a professional I did use the site http://www.dcwg.org/detect/ to check my DNS.   It was easy, there is no software to download and no looking around to find information that I would need to complete the more intricate steps needed to test my laptop.  Actually I didn’t have to do anything but “click” the link provided.  Here’s the image you should see and the message =GREEN. Your computer appears to be looking up IP addresses correctly.

If your DNS does show malware or suspicious activity the FBI would like to hear from you. Visit their website and file your complaint using this form. 

Beware of Moammar Gaddafi Links and Photos

You have heard of the saying, “There’s an app for that!”  The same could be said for many malware programs and viruses.  With the announcement of the death of Maommar Gaddafi and his family being featured prominently in the news there have been reports of links and photos containing dangerous computer viruses and malware coding.

Mashable explains, that these notices of news and photos are “easy vehicles for malicious links.”  Mashable states,

“When news like Gaddafi’s death breaks, however, there is no history for them to rely on and malicious links masquerading as news can more easily rank high in search results. Another reason is that people often seek such images from unfamiliar sources. Websites or Twitter messages promise to link to a breaking topic and then lead instead to another site or virus. The Gaddafi photo is a prime candidate for this type of malicious links, so it’s wise to use caution when clicking,” it said.

The Twitterverse exploded with messages of photos taken of a shot, wounded or hidden Gaddafi.  Other posts across the web talked about his funeral arrangements,  his children and their future.  There have been reports of cell phone photos taken of the confrontation between two political forces in Libya.

PC World reports that “The massive attack that has infected PCs by tricking users into clicking links in fake messages from CNN.com shows little sign of ending soon.”  (reported on Friday, Oct. 21,2 011)  This version of malware was hidden in the links to “CNN.com Top Ten Lists” and “CNN Alerts: My Custom Alert”, which supposedly featured news and reports of Gaddafi’s demise but directed users that they had to download and install a software program to view.  The hackers disguised it as a legitimate CNN site and the malware was contained in what over 11 million searchers thought was an update to Flash Player.   After trying the download, users were caught in a hopeless loop requiring them to try to shut down their computer to stop the download before it could complete or download it and try to effect repairs to their system afterwards.

Where are you most likely to find accurate information on this story as it unfolds?  Prominent news sites and channels like MSNBC, Fox News, the Associated Press or New York Times just to name a few.  CNN warns, “Much caution should be used with these reports because false information has come out previously.”

The death of Osama bin Laden caused the same sort of interest from hackers, as interested readers flocked to their computers desperate for word or photo of the demise of one of the most wanted people on the planet.

What advice can we give to help you avoid malware?  If you receive a link, especially one from a friend or family member or an unusual source in your email don’t open it.  Look to legitimate news sources for information and photos.  Link love is not always so “loving”  and is best left avoided.

 

Hackers Hit Sony Again and Again

Just weeks after PlayStation’s network break a Lebanese hacker group (Idaho) boasts of breaking into the Sony’s shopping database at ca.eshop.sonyericsson.com/with a “simple sql injection.”  In this e-shop users names, user name, credit card information and passwords were released in a massive dump on their Facebook and Twitter pages advising the unscrupulous to access the information contained in the dump in a text file on pastebin.  The website is down right now, but just imagine how many 1,000 of people have used this particular website to make their Sony shopping experience more convenient.

But they aren’t the only ones to hit the hacker games hard this week.  LulzSec hacked into and released the information they found on Sony’s Japanese website data base.   This group of hackers may be in it for the “fun” but they are not joking around with who they attack as they also take credit for hacking into the Fox.com login database, including emails and passwords. Then the LulzSec Hack & Leak pointless ATM information also.

Customers aren’t the only ones that now doubt the security of Sony’s databases, websites and PlayStation Live systems.  According to a recent report by PC Magazine Sony will be testifying at an upcoming House of Representatives privacy hearing, after just months ago refusing to.

What does Sony have to say? Continue reading Hackers Hit Sony Again and Again