Category Archives: PC Tools

How To Avoid Online Scams – PC Tools Lays Out A Plan

From this morning’s Tech Thoughts Daily Net News column – “Some of these campaigns consist of emails that are so effectively crafted that they could fool even some of the more advance users, while others look so obviously fake that they are spotted by all but the most inexperienced ones.”

Does this sound like “new” news to you? If, you’re a long time reader here – I suspect, not. Still, at the risk of sounding like a broken record – I’m reposting one of the most read posts from 2012, that can help users (especially less aware users), avoid being scammed online.

Yes, it’s repetitive – Yes, it’s repetitive – Yes, it’s repetitive! But that’s the point. In order to achieve a change in behavior (and, average users must change their online behavior) – repetition of the correct behavior, is fundamental to achieving that goal.

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imageCyber crooks and scam emails – a natural fit – aimed at the significant number of Internet users who remain unaware of the very real dangers that scam emails  hold for their safety, security, identity – and, their wallet.

Cyber criminals are experts at crafting “attention grabbers” designed to reel in the unwary and undereducated Internet surfer. Here’s a few attention grabbers that consistently pay off – targeted towards the blissfully unaware Internet user. Especially those users who seem to have a natural tendency to “just click”.

Online shopping offers e.g. bargains from unknown stores.

Get rich quick schemes/work from home offers.

Offers to download mobile protection software.

Offers to download antivirus software.

Offers to win a prize e.g. answer this survey ‘for your chance to win’…

Movie offers e.g. search for a popular movie such as Twilight and an offer comes up to download the movie for free.

Online donations.

Occasionally, I’ll post an article directed at the “just click” crowd and, I can say without any hesitation – users who fall into this category of Internet user are ripe for the taking – it’s like picking apples from a tree. It couldn’t be easier.

Here’s a couple of past articles which continue to draw huge numbers of the “just click” crowd.

Kate Middleton Nude – As If!

Nude Pics Of Your Wife/Girlfriend Attached – Click Here

Frankly, I fail to understand how anyone with a lick of common sense, would be drawn in by those nonsense article titles. On the other hand, maybe common sense has nothing to do with it.

It could just as easily be that innate sense of overconfidence that seems to have infected society as a whole – most particularly the “tech savvy” generation.

Mark Twain had it right, I think, when he said – “It aint what we don’t know that hurts us. It’s what we do know that ain’t so – that does.” The “tech savvy” generation in a nutshell – maybe.

My friends over a PC Tools, recognizing the continuing need to educate users, have put together a Top Tips article – How to Outsmart Online Scammers – designed to help the unwary (overconfident) Internet user, to identify online scams.

Richard Clooke, PC Tools online security expert reveals in this article – how to avoid being scammed online:

1. ASK – is this too good to be true?

$50 here, a holiday there, unlimited online offers from the world’s biggest brands – if you’re tempted by any of these free offers, then the answer is probably yes.

Many online scams trick us into revealing our personal information to secure something in return. It’s important to be aware of ‘fake offers’ to avoid being lured by savvy scammers.

2. DON’T – dish your details unless the site is secure.

Never provide personal or financial information in exchange for online offers.  Details such as your mobile number, address, and credit card or banking details should never be entered on a non-secure site. When in doubt:

  • Double check the URL before typing a link into your browser.
  • Check there is a padlock icon in your browser before using your credit card online.
  • Check you’re on a secure site and that the address starts with ‘HTTPS’.

3. THINK – it can happen to me.

Many of us think we are savvy online, but the reality is cybercriminals are cashing in on relaxed attitudes to sharing personal details online. Results from the PC Tools study also showed that most people think scams are more likely to happen to others, rather than themselves.

We need to educate ourselves about online scams and be aware of the risk.

4. DO – invest in scam protection software.

What most of us don’t realize is some online scams don’t involve malware and while traditional Internet security is still essential, we now require additional protection to prevent cybercriminals gaining personal information via other methods.

Regular readers here are familiar with this old request – still, it’s as pertinent as ever.

Be kind to your friends, relatives, and associates, particularly those who are inexperienced Internet users – let them know that there is an epidemic of this types of scam on the Internet. In doing so, you help raise the level of protection for all of us.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Internet Safety, PC Tools

PC Tools Top Tips – How To Avoid Online Scams

imageCyber crooks and scam emails – a natural fit – aimed at the significant number of Internet users who remain unaware of the very real dangers that scam emails  hold for their safety, security, identity – and, their wallet.

Cyber criminals are experts at crafting “attention grabbers” designed to reel in the unwary and undereducated Internet surfer. Here’s a few attention grabbers that consistently pay off – targeted towards the blissfully unaware Internet user. Especially those users who seem to have a natural tendency to “just click”.

Online shopping offers e.g. bargains from unknown stores.

Get rich quick schemes/work from home offers.

Offers to download mobile protection software.

Offers to download antivirus software.

Offers to win a prize e.g. answer this survey ‘for your chance to win’…

Movie offers e.g. search for a popular movie such as Twilight and an offer comes up to download the movie for free.

Online donations.

Occasionally, I’ll post an article directed at the “just click” crowd and, I can say without any hesitation – users who fall into this category of Internet user are ripe for the taking – it’s like picking apples from a tree. It couldn’t be easier.

Here’s a couple of past articles which continue to draw huge numbers of the “just click” crowd.

Kate Middleton Nude – As If! 

Nude Pics Of Your Wife/Girlfriend Attached – Click Here

Frankly, I fail to understand how anyone with a lick of common sense, would be drawn in by those nonsense article titles. On the other hand, maybe common sense has nothing to do with it.

It could just as easily be that innate sense of overconfidence that seems to have infected society as a whole – most particularly the “tech savvy” generation. Mark Twain had it right, I think, when he said – “It aint what we don’t know that hurts us. It’s what we do know that ain’t so – that does.” The “tech savvy” generation in a nutshell – maybe.

My friends over a PC Tools, recognizing the continuing need to educate users, have put together a Top Tips article – How to Outsmart Online Scammers – designed to help the unwary (overconfident) Internet user, to identify online scams.

Richard Clooke, PC Tools online security expert reveals in this article – how to avoid being scammed online:

1. ASK – is this too good to be true?

$50 here, a holiday there, unlimited online offers from the world’s biggest brands – if you’re tempted by any of these free offers, then the answer is probably yes.

Many online scams trick us into revealing our personal information to secure something in return. It’s important to be aware of ‘fake offers’ to avoid being lured by savvy scammers. 

2. DON’T – dish your details unless the site is secure.

Never provide personal or financial information in exchange for online offers.  Details such as your mobile number, address, and credit card or banking details should never be entered on a non-secure site. When in doubt:

  • Double check the URL before typing a link into your browser.
  • Check there is a padlock icon in your browser before using your credit card online.
  • Check you’re on a secure site and that the address starts with ‘HTTPS’.

3. THINK – it can happen to me.

Many of us think we are savvy online, but the reality is cybercriminals are cashing in on relaxed attitudes to sharing personal details online. Results from the PC Tools study also showed that most people think scams are more likely to happen to others, rather than themselves.

We need to educate ourselves about online scams and be aware of the risk.

4. DO – invest in scam protection software.

What most of us don’t realize is some online scams don’t involve malware and while traditional Internet security is still essential, we now require additional protection to prevent cybercriminals gaining personal information via other methods.

About PC Tools

PC Tools is dedicated to building simple, effective and affordable PC protection and performance tools.  For over thirteen years, we have offered industry-leading and award-winning products to tackle the world’s evolving threats and security challenges.

The PC Tools Malware Research Centre monitors trends and emerging spyware issues and provides security solutions for the consumer and enterprise marketplace. The company has staff in Mountain View, Sydney, London and Kiev. PC Tools has a global network of distributors, resellers, and retailers.

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Filed under Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, PC Tools

The Tech Savvy Generation Myth Hurts All Of Us

imageTime to beat that dead horse again. Out of habit mainly, since statistically, it’s a total waste of time for me (and others, of course) to continue to advance the position that “education” should offer significant benefits in the fight against cybercrime. Users, it seems, remain unconvinced.

Unfortunately, there’s a huge imbalance in the fight against cybercrime. On the one side we have highly motivated, and technically astute, albeit despicable human beings – intent on causing harm. On the other side – you, me, and the rest – many of whom can be classed as stupidly arrogant in assessing their own technical capabilities. Tough talk? Not nearly tough enough from where I sit.

The Ponemon Institute and PC Tools, in a recent study/survey, marked this real gap between perceptions users have in their own abilities to stay safe on the Net, versus the reality. In a few words (my words, not theirs), too many computer users are dead stupid in assessing their own capabilities.

Hardly news though, is it? We’ve discussed this issue here, over and over. Which is why, I had a bit of a chuckle when I read Richard Clooke’s  (Richard is a highly competent online security expert at PC Tools, whom I’ve corresponded with occasionally) comment imbedded in the report –

“The longer term concern is that while many of us think that we are too savvy for online scams, the research demonstrates otherwise,” said Richard Clooke, online security expert at PC Tools. “Unless consumer behavior is addressed through education, the incidence of cyber criminals seeking to cash in on consumer trust and naivety online is likely to increase exponentially.”

Sadly, I’ll take issue with Richard’s last statement – good luck with the education thing. I have yet to see any improvement in “Internet Street Smarts” where education played a role – nor do I expect to. Why would there be, when the harmful myth of the “Tech Savvy Generation” continues to be taken at face value by so many.

Some time back, I wrote an article on this issue which has proven to be very popular with educational institutions, when used as a resource. If you missed this article, you’ll find it below:

Part Of The Tech Savvy Generation? How Tech Savvy Are You Really?

You’re part of a computer literate and technically competent generation – you know, the “tech savvy generation” we hear so much about.

So, when it comes to wandering through the risky Internet neighborhood that’s arguably full of predators, you tend not to worry.

You’re convinced, that since you’re a member of this tech savvy generation, when you surf the Internet, you can handle the dangers and pitfalls that wait for the typical unsuspecting user, (the user who’s not part of your tech savvy generation).

This unsophisticated non-tech savvy group are much more likely than you, to be pounced on by the multitude of scam artists, schemers and cyber crooks lurking in the shadows, just waiting for victims. Right?

It’s entirely possible of course, that you are computer literate, and technically competent. On the other hand, simply because you are a member of that generation who have grown up with computers, does not make you tech savvy. I hate to burst your bubble, but the concept of a “tech savvy generation” is a myth.

I understand why you may have bought into this myth. People love myths. It seems that we will buy into any myth provided it agrees with, or reinforces, our already held misconceptions.

Myths of course, get their status precisely because they do reinforce our beliefs, properly held or not. This myth (masterfully propagated by the media), continues to pose serious security risks for those who believe it.

Since I’m involved in Internet and system security, I have many opportunities to deal with the “tech savvy generation”, and overall, I find them no more competent than average/typical computer users.

Unfortunately, I find that not only does the tech savvy generation not know “what they don’t know”, they don’t want to hear about it because developing knowledge is hard, and it requires time and effort. Better to just hang on to the myth.

I’ll admit, that anecdotal evidence, while interesting, does not always tell the tale. On the other hand, gather enough anecdotal evidence and one may have enough data to propose a theory, that can withstand probing and prodding.

As a tech/geek/writer, I am in touch with loads of other techs/geeks/writers from around the world, on a fairly consistent basis. One undisputed reality that we all agree on is, the lack of knowledge exhibited by typical computer users, and that members of the tech savvy generation, are no more than typical computer users.

So, if you’re a member of the so called tech savvy generation, you need to consider these realities:

Cyber criminals count on your believing the myth. It makes their job just that much easier.

There’s a major lack of knowledge and skill relating to computers/connected devices, and security, in the tech savvy generation. You really are, just an average computer user.

Common sense tips:

Stop believing the myth.

Start being proactive when it comes to your computer and connected device’s security; part of that is making sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances you will fall victim to cyber crime.

Recommended reading: Principles of Security: Keeping it Simple – by guest writer Mark Schneider, and – An Anti-malware Test – Common Sense Wins.

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Filed under Bill's Rants, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Opinion, PC Tools, Safe Surfing

NirLauncher – 100+ Free Utilities In One Download

imageIf you’re  a Geek, then I’ll wager that you’ve got at least one of NirSoft’s incredibly useful small utilities on your Hard Drive – or, on a Flash Drive. If you’re not yet familiar with NirSoft’s  collection of free tools, then you’re in for a treat.

NirSoft offers over 100 freeware utilities ranging from Password Tools, Network Monitoring Tools, to System Tools and more. All are available as individual downloads, or you can download all 100+ applications in one neat package – NirLauncher

In order to start using NirLauncher, extract the files in the package to your Flash Drive, or your Hard Drive. After you have extracted the package, simply run the executable file – NirLauncher.exe

Once you’ve launched NirLauncher, you can then launch any utility you choose from the GUI. You’ll notice, in the following graphic, that the tools are grouped by function.

Clicking any graphic on this page will expand it to its original size.

A total of 106 Utilities.

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Password recovery utilities illustrated.

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Fast facts:

NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without the need to install.

NirLauncher package includes a variety of tools, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When installed on a USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into a .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically runs the x64 version of the utility, when there is a specific x64 version.

NirLauncher allows you to add additional software packages – including SysInternals Suite. Please see the download page for additional information.

System requirements: Windows 2000 up to Windows 7.  NirLauncher also works on x64 systems.

Download at: Nirsoft – scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Available languages: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese.

The false positive issue:

I recently came across a forum comment (on another site), made by a regular reader, who made the comment that he occasionally gets a malware warning on applications I recommend.

He’s right, and here’s why.

Many of the applications I test and recommend, are designed to be used by sophisticated users and often, these applications dig deep into the operating system replicating the behavior of hacking tools on the one hand – and malware on the other hand.

Some of the applications in NirLauncher are a perfect example of this. A number of the recovery utilities are in fact, hacking tools. Any application which can recover a hidden password is, by its very nature, a hacking tool.

You can see from the following graphic, that on installing NirLauncher my primary AV, Microsoft Security Essentials, went into overdrive to warn me of 5 potential threats contained in the NirLauncher package. This is exactly what Microsoft Security Essentials is designed to do.

Here’s what I said in a previous article dealing with false positives:

Antimalware applications are not immune from false positives. In fact, false positives are more common than many users realize. Just one example – some AVs are notorious for seeing extractor files in application setup files as a Trojan.

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Since I was well aware that the warnings were false positives – all items were allowed.

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Here’s what NirSoft has to say on the false positive issueAntivirus companies cause a big headache to small developers.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Integrated Solutions, PC Tools, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, Utilities

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7 – Free Firewall Software

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I’m always surprised when I get asked “The Firewall” question – why do I need one? The answer is – a Firewall, either Hardware or Software, is designed to block unauthorized access to your computer from the Internet, at the same time permitting protected authorized communications – provided it includes outbound protection.

Most casual users that I come into contact with believe that Firewalls need to be expensive to ensure that they get the job none. But, that’s not always the case. PC Tools Firewall Plus 7, for example, is a very robust, uncomplicated, free Firewall, which is non- intrusive, and very appropriate for casual computer users – and gets the job done.

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I’ve been running with PC Tools Firewall since I installed Win 7 and I have been impressed with its performance. It installed easily, set up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts with my machine despite my sometimes esoteric running requirements.

Here’s a recent example where my machine is being probed for vulnerabilities from an IP address in China.

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The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users. Experienced users on the other hand can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.

The program settings screen is definitely new user friendly, as the following graphic illustrates.

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What you need to know:

Protects your PC as you are working, surfing and playing.

Protects against Trojans, backdoors, keyloggers and other malware designed to damage your computer and potentially steal your confidential information.

Includes ThreatFire, a heuristic application for additional protection.

Intelligent, automatic protection without all the questions.

Easy to use – designed for both, novice and expert users.

Advanced rules to protect PCs against common attacks.

Inbound and outbound protection.

Simple, user friendly interface.

Free – no catches, limitations or time-limits.

What’s new since I last reviewed PC Tools Firewall Plus:

Extensive Security Permission (ESP). PC Tools Firewall Plus has extended its Self Protection to block malicious programs bypassing the firewall. Some malicious programs access the internet by disabling the firewall allowing your personal information to be sent to the internet undetected. PC Tools Firewall Plus intercepts termination requests restricting who can terminate the firewall and modify protected objects.

Improved Application rules interface displays an application’s details as well as extended/improved user control over input and output rule creation and modification. The new rules interface also allows creation and modification of new ESP rules. This allows the expert user complete control of the network access.

More informative pop ups PC Tools Firewall Plus is built using the new Windows Filtering Platform (WFP) architecture in Windows 7, Vista™ and Server 2008 to provide you with precise control over all network traffic, including IPv6, on both 32bit and 64bit systems.

Updated Profiles Interface for greater control over network access profiles. Configure trusted and untrusted network profiles to help ensure your network access to tailored to the security level of the network you’re connected to.

Network Display has been extended to include detailed available adaptor information including assigned profile, MAC Address and traffic statistics as well as detailed network information including the IP, Gateway IP and subnet mask.

Normal and Expert modes have been combined into one simple to use interface. The new interface has automatic rule and profile creation for the normal user as well as an interface allowing highly customisable configurations for expert users.

If you are a casual computer user, PC Tools Firewall is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting your expectations.

System Requirements: Windows 7 (32/64 bit), Vista (32/64 bit) and XP (32 bit).

Download at: PC Tools

Note: Test your existing Firewall at Steve Gibson’s site – ShieldsUP! If your current Firewall is not in stealth mode (this test will confirm it), and if it can’t be forced into stealth mode, then you should consider changing your Firewall application.

The following are the results, from Steve’s site, on the test I just completed:

Your system has achieved a perfect “TruStealth” rating. Not a single packet — solicited or otherwise — was received from your system as a result of our security probing tests.

Your system ignored and refused to reply to repeated Pings (ICMP Echo Requests). From the standpoint of the passing probes of any hacker, this machine does not exist on the Internet. Some questionable personal security systems expose their users by attempting to “counter-probe the prober”, thus revealing themselves. But your system wisely remained silent in every way. Very nice.

Note: If you are currently running Windows Firewall, then installation and setup is a breeze. On the other hand, if you are running another Firewall, it’s important that you uninstall this application (use the applications built-in uninstaller), before installing PC Tools Firewall. I mention this as a precaution only, since it’s as likely that you won’t encounter any difficulties. But……..

If your current Firewall does not include a built-in uninstaller, then use Revo Uninstaller which will delete the application including the applicable Registry entries.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Internet Safety, PC Tools, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

PC Tools Predicts New Breeds of Social Media Cyber Scams

imagePC Tools, the company which brings you PC Tools Firewall Plus (free), ThreatFire (free), and of course a complete line of award-winning commercial grade security offerings, is issuing this consumer alert advising the rollout of new social media sites and features, are leading to a fresh crop of online scams and threats.

PC Tools Top Three Social Network Threat Predictions

Email alerts for “tagged” photos where YOU might appear online.

Social networks are developing increased intelligence for facial recognition to assist with tagging photos. When you’re tagged in a photo or at a location in your photo album, you can often expect an email or notification letting you know where to view it online. Watch out!

Cybercriminals may be using this as a tactic to get you to click on malicious links asking for information – possibly even prompting you to click on a link leading to a fake login and password entry form posing as your social network.

Online robots or “bots” on social networking sites will be more sophisticated

We believe within the next few months that social media “bots” will become more advanced, effectively creating human-looking profiles and personalities. Cybercriminals rely on bots because they are the fastest and most cost-effective way to spread malware, spyware and scams through social network sites.

Through these bots, criminals can auto-create bogus personalities on social networks, which can in turn link to fake companies that sell phony products – all to trick users into buying merchandise that isn’t real or spreading news that doesn’t actually exist.

An increase in fake invites to join “new” or “exclusive” social networks or social groups

New social networks are popping up every day, some of which are “invite only” making them more appealing. Cybercriminals could use this appeal as a method to lure users into clicking on fake invites for exclusive networks. Upon clicking on these invites, users could be asked to provide personal details such as name, login, password or birthdates which should not be released.

“If you’re looking to join the hottest new social network, be careful where you click – your personal life may be at risk,” said Mike Chen, Product Marketing Manager at PC Tools. “Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the buzz surrounding these new social networks and features by tricking unsuspecting users to divulge personal information or download malware.”

Chen added that today’s malware looks legitimate, but what may seem like a harmless email or link can actually result in a person’s stolen identity or credit card data theft. And according to Pew Research, 46% of internet users agree that “most people can be trusted” – a prime reason why cybercriminals are so successful at duping consumers.

About PC Tools:

With offices located in Australia, Ireland, United States, United Kingdom and the Ukraine. PC Tools is a fast-growing brand with dedicated Research and Development teams that ensure PC Tools maintains a competitive edge. With registered customers in over 180 countries and millions of downloads to date, PC Tools’ products continue to win awards and gain recommendations from respected reviewers and independent testing labs around the world.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, PC Tools, Safe Surfing, social networking, Windows Tips and Tools

PC Tools Exposes “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Cyber Threat

imageThe waiting game is almost over for Harry Potter fans who are hungry to feast their eyes on the much-anticipated final chapter in the Harry Potter franchise – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

There are always those of course who won’t wait – in this case until July 15. You know the type – the buttinskis who push ahead of you in line, or cut you off on the expressway – the ones you’d like to clunk upside the head.

Unfortunately, the obnoxious dimwits who behave in this way, tend to repeat this behavior across a broad range of personal activity, and I suspect, that the niceties of copyright law is well below their personal radar horizon.

The reigning experts in social engineering – cybercriminals (who, in my view, could teach “legitimate social engineering experts” a thing or two), are well aware of the “can’t wait buttinskis”, and in a perfect replay of the old “there’s no honor amongst thieves”, have made available through free torrent downloads –Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, except

ExceptPC Tools, the company which brings you PC Tools Firewall Plus (free), ThreatFire (free), and of course a complete line of award-winning commercial grade security offerings, has discovered that these free torrent downloads are nothing more than a new online malicious scam. Gotta admit – I love Karma payback!

I’m posting the bulletin PC Tools sent me yesterday on this, since it’s very instructive in terms of just how much effort cybercriminals will go through, in order to penetrate a target’s computer.

It’s not often possible to capture an online attack as it occurs, but in this case, PC Tools managed to do just that – see images and links listed below.

Here’s how the malicious scam works:

  • First, a user searches torrents for free downloads of the final Harry Potter movie
  • Results claiming to offer a free download of the new movie appear
  • Once users download the file, .RAR file and password.txt downloads appear
  • Users receive a message saying, “This video is password protected to stop automated leeching and detection. To get your password, please visit:
  • Here, users are taken through a series of instructions to obtain their password.

One of which is choosing a link for a special offer while the site “verifies” the password

  • Once users click on an offer, a new tab and pop-up open, asking users to save what seems to be a legitimate file
  • After saving the file, cybercriminals have access to your computer—and the movie, of course, never appears on the screen

Harry Potter Threat  Exposed

Here’s what victims find while searching for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 movie or videos:

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Users can discover apparently ripped versions of the new Harry Potter movie on file-sharing websites.

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It looks like the movie is being downloaded on the victim’s computer.

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The victim is instructed to decompress the archive.

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RAR and password.txt files suddenly appear.

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User is told to visit separate website by password.txt file.

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The victim then sees this screenshot, claiming to be MovieYT.com.

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User follows 3-step instructions, which takes them to a verification code check.

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User clicks on VLC Player and a new tab is opened.

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When hovering over the download button, the download executable file looks real.

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Once the user clicks on the file, they are prompted to save it – this, of course, contains malware.

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While all this is happening, the user is still waiting for the “Verification Check” from MovieYT – but the cybercriminals now have access to the victim’s computer. They have your password and other personal information that they can use to further attack you, your finances, your friends and social networks.

Worth repeating: Consider the trade-offs, and the very real risks involved with Peer to Peer and Torrent applications.

Privacy: When you are connected to file-sharing programs, you may unintentionally allow others to copy confidential files you did not intend to share. So be sure to setup the file-sharing software very carefully.

If you don’t check the proper settings when you install the software, you could allow access not just to the files you intend to share, but also to other information on your hard drive, such as your tax returns, email messages, medical records, photos, and other personal and financial documents.

It’s extremely important to be aware of the files that you place in, or download to, your shared folder. Don’t put information in your shared folder that you don’t want to share with others. Your shared folder is the folder that is shared automatically with others on peer to peer file sharing networks.

Copyright Issues: You may knowingly, or otherwise, download material that is protected by copyright laws and find yourself caught up in legal issues. Copyright infringement can result in significant monetary damages, fines, and even criminal penalties.

Some statistics suggest as many as 70% of young people between the ages of 9 – 14, regularly download copyrighted digital music. If you are a parent, you bear the ultimate responsibility for this illegal activity.

Adult Content: Again, if you are a parent you may not be aware that their children have downloaded file-sharing software on the family computer, and that they may have exchanged games, videos, music, pornography, or other material that may be unsuitable for them. It’s not unusual for other peoples’ files to be mislabeled and you or your children can unintentionally download these files.

Spyware: There’s a good chance that the file-sharing program you’re using has installed other software known as spyware to your computer’s operating system. Spyware monitors a user’s browsing habits and then sends that data to third parties. Frequently the user gets ads based on the information that the spyware has collected and forwarded to these third parties.

I can assure you that spyware can be difficult to detect and remove. Before you use any file-sharing program, you should buy, or download free software, that can help prevent the downloading or installation of spyware, or help to detect it on your hard drive if it has been installed.

Viruses: Use and update your anti-virus software regularly. Files you download could be mislabeled, hiding a virus or other unwanted content. Use anti-virus software to protect your computer from viruses you might pick up from other users through the file-sharing program.

Generally, your virus filter should prevent your computer from receiving possibly destructive files. While downloading, you should avoid files with extensions such as .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, .vbs, .dll, .bin, and .cmd.

Default Closing Behavior: It is critical that you close your connection after you have finished using the software. In some instances, closing the file-sharing program window does not actually close your connection to the network. That allows file-sharing to continue and will increase your security risk. Be sure to turn off this feature in the programs “preferences” setting.

What’s more, some file-sharing programs automatically run every time you turn on your computer. As a preventive measure, you should adjust the file-sharing program’s controls to prevent the file-sharing program from automatically starting.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, internet scams, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, PC Tools, Peer to Peer, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools