Tag Archives: epidemic

Thumbing Your Way To Friendship?

Grab a cup of coffee:

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Dine out at your favorite restaurant:

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Spend some time at the museum:

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Meet at a popular diner:

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Relax at the beach:

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Go to a game:

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Going out on a date:

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Take a drive around town:

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From “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?”Thedailybeast.com/newsweek

Questions about the Internet’s deleterious effects on the mind are at least as old as hyperlinks. But even among Web skeptics, the idea that a new technology might influence how we think and feel—let alone contribute to a great American crack-up—was considered silly and naive, like waving a cane at electric light or blaming the television for kids these days. Instead, the Internet was seen as just another medium, a delivery system, not a diabolical machine. It made people happier and more productive. And where was the proof otherwise?

Now, however, the proof is starting to pile up. The first good, peer-reviewed research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of Web utopians have allowed. The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.

I’m not convinced that the Web is driving us mad but, if the photos above are any indication it seems to be affecting our social behavior. Disconnection is rampant; discourtesy is epidemic; empathy seems to be a long forgotten phenomenon.

Just saying.

The other side of the coin100 year-old Idaho woman on Jay Leno show. You’ll love this lady – she has a view or two you might share – even on on “thumb texting.”

A shout out to my good buddy Mike for sharing these photos. Since these photos came by way of email, I’ve not been able to track the originating site. If they originated at your site, please let me know so that I can link back and credit you accordingly.

12 Comments

Filed under addiction, Point of View, social networking

Rogue Security Software Continues It’s Rampage – Some Solutions

imageIf the day should ever come when anti-malware applications achieve a 100% effective rate in the detection of malware, or software developers develop operating systems and applications that are fully malware resistant, I’ll have to find something else to Blog about!

It doesn’t look like that day is likely to happen any time soon, however. In the meantime, Internet users will continue to download and test/tryout the latest, greatest, and newest anti-malware tools. Knowing this, Cyber crooks are blitzing the Internet with “rogue security software”, often referred to as “scareware”.

Scareware is a particularly vicious form of malware, designed specifically to convince the victim to pay for the “full” version of an application in order to remove what are, in fact, false positives that these program are designed to display on the infected computer in various ways; fake scan results, pop-ups, and system tray notifications.

Dialogue boxes, like the ones below, can be a powerful motivator. It’s no wonder then, that unaware computer users will often respond by clicking on the link which will take them to the product download site.

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Using techniques such as the ones described earlier, cyber criminals are infecting more than 35 million computers with scareware/rogueware each month (roughly 3.50 percent of all computers), and earning more than $34 million monthly, through scareware attacks.

Generally, reputable anti-spyware software is capable of detecting rogue software if it attempts to install. But this is not always the case. Anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database can be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.

A good partial solution to this problem is  – ensure you have installed, and are running, an anti-malware application such as ThreatFire Version 4.7.0, free from PC Tools. This type of program operates using heuristics, or behavioral analysis, to identify newer threats.

Additional steps you can take to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue software.

Consider the ramifications carefully before responding to a Windows Security Alert pop-up message. This is a favorite vehicle used by rogue security application to begin the process of infecting unwary users’ computers.

Be cautious in downloading freeware, or shareware programs. Spyware, including scareware, is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download freeware applications only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, or sites that you know to be safe.

Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications, since exposure to rogue security applications is widespread.

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (Web of Trust), an Internet Explorer/Firefox add-on, that offers substantial protection against dangerous websites.

Always remember of course, that you are your own greatest line of defense against malware. STOP. THINK. CLICK.

If you are infected by scareware/rogueware, the following free resources can provide tools, and advice, you will need to attempt removal.

Malwarebytes, a very reliable anti-malware company, offers a free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, a highly rated anti-malware application which is capable of removing many newer rogue applications.

Bleeping Computer – a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software.

SmitFraudFix, available for download at Geekstogo is a free tool that is continuously updated to assist victims of rogue security applications.

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.

7 Comments

Filed under Windows Tips and Tools

Scareware is Destroyware – Not Just Malware

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Scareware is a particularly vicious form of malware, designed specifically to convince the victim to pay for the “full” version of an application in order to remove what are, in fact, false positives that these program are designed to display on the infected computer in various ways; fake scan results, pop-ups, and system tray notifications.

According to Panda Security, approximately 35 million computers are infected with scareware/rogueware each month (roughly 3.50 percent of all computers), and cybercriminals are earning more than $34 million monthly, through scareware attacks.

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Delivery methods used by these parasites include Trojans, infected websites, misleading advertisements, and Internet Browser security holes. They can also be downloaded voluntarily, from rogue security software websites, and from “adult” websites. As one of my friends put it “It’s easy to be bitten by a dog like that”.

The average computer user that I speak with informally, has no idea that rogue applications exist. But they do, and cyber crooks are continuing to develop and distribute scareware at a furious pace; there are literally thousands of variants of this type of malware currently circulating on the Internet. It’s fair to say; distribution has now reached virtual epidemic proportions.

Having watched the development and deployment of scareware over the last few years, and having noted the increasing sophistication of the current crop of scareware applications, I have come to the realization that scareware removal instructions have limited value, except perhaps, for the most technically sophisticated computer user. A reformat and a system re-install, are more than likely in the cards.

Yes, I know, there are literally hundreds of sites that will walk you through the process of attempting to eliminate this type of scourge, but simply put – if your computer becomes infected with the current scareware circulating on the Internet, you are, in most cases, wasting your time attempting to save your system.

If you doubt this, take a look at Trojan War Resolution: The Battle Won, in which Larry Walsh of eWeek, describes a three day marathon system recovery attempt which was ultimately successful, but…..

The best advice? Have your PC worked on by a certified computer technician, who will have the tools, and the competency, to determine if the infection can be removed without causing system damage.

If you have become infected by scareware, and you want to try your hand at removal, then by all means do so.

The following free resources can provide tools, and advice, you will need to attempt removal.

Malwarebytes, a very reliable anti-malware company, offers a free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, a highly rated anti-malware application which is capable of removing many newer rogue applications.

Bleeping Computer – a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software.

SmitFraudFix, available for download at Geekstogo is a free tool that is continuously updated to assist victims of rogue security applications.

What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue software.

Consider the ramifications carefully before responding to a Windows Security Alert pop-up message. This is a favorite vehicle used by rogue security application to begin the process of infecting unwary users’ computers.

Be cautious in downloading freeware, or shareware programs. Spyware, including scareware, is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download freeware applications only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, or sites that you know to be safe.

Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications, since exposure to rogue security applications is widespread.

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (Web of Trust), an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on, that offers substantial protection against dangerous websites.

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.

29 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, internet scams, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Manual Malware Removal, Recommended Web Sites, Rogue Software, Rogue Software Removal Tips, scareware, Scareware Removal Tips, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools, WOT (Web of Trust)

Total Security 2009 Scareware – Panda Security Takes a Look

Courtesy of Panda Security.

This week’s PandaLabs report looks at Total Security 2009, yet another
example of the many fake antiviruses in circulation.

This type of malware passes itself off as legitimate software applications in order to steal users’ money by tricking them into believing that they will eliminate threats that actually do not exist.

Once installed on the target computer

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Total Security displays a warning indicating that the computer is at risk.

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Then, it simulates a system scan reporting a series of infections in order to scare users into buying the antivirus solution.

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On finishing the scan, Total Security displays a screen offering a solution to the
user’s problem.  The solution consists of activating the fake antivirus.

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However, to activate the product, users must pay a fee to the anti-malware vendor. After this, users receive a code they must enter in the program.

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Once they do this, the malicious application stops displaying warnings about
threats. This aims to make users believe they have actually bought an antivirus product, whereas, in reality, no infection has been removed and users are not protected against threats.

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Total Security installs on computers just as if it were a legitimate security solution. It creates a shortcut in the desktop, another one in the program directory of the Start menu and a third one in the Add or Remove Programs section.

This malware can reach users in a variety of ways: through links in spam messages, downloaded from a malicious Web page, etc. Once run, the
program launches the installation process.

More information about these and other malicious codes is available in
the Panda Security Encyclopedia. You can also follow Panda Security’s online activity on its Twitter and PandaLabs blog.

If you become infected by this, or other scareware (rogue software), have your PC worked on by a certified computer technician, who will have the tools, and the competency, to determine if the infection can be removed without causing system damage. Computer technicians do not provide services at no cost, so be prepared for the costs involved.

If you feel you have the necessary skills, and you want to try your hand at removal, then by all means do so.

The following free resources can provide tools and the advice, you will need to attempt removal.

Malwarebytes, a very reliable anti-malware company, offers a free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, a highly rated anti-malware application which is capable of removing many newer rogue applications.

411 Spyware – a site that specializes in malware removal. I highly recommend this site.

Bleeping Computer – a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software. This is another site I highly recommend.

SmitFraudFix, available for download at Geekstogo is a free tool that is continuously updated to assist victims of rogue security applications.

What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue software.

Be careful in downloading freeware or shareware programs. Spyware is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download this type of program only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, or sites that you know to be safe.

Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications.

Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is Web of Trust, an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on, that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.

Do not click on unsolicited invitations to download software of any kind.

Additional precautions you can take to protect your computer system:

When surfing the web: Stop. Think. Click

Don’t open unknown email attachments

Don’t run programs of unknown origin

Disable hidden filename extensions

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Disable scripting features in email programs

Make regular backups of critical data

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.

Install a personal firewall on the computer.

Install anti-virus/anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all email attachments

If you enjoyed this article, 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.

8 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Panda Security, PandaLabs, Rogue Software, Rogue Software Removal Tips, Safe Surfing, scareware, Scareware Removal Tips, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Infected by Scareware? You’re Toast!

Regular readers of this site may well have wondered why I have not dealt with the issue of so called “scareware” removal, in some time.

Frankly, articles dealing with the removal of scareware generate huge numbers of hits. Often, a single article dealing with the newest form of scareware, and how to eradicate it from an infected system, will produce 1,000 + hits in a day on this site.

So what’s the problem then; why not write about it – bloggers love to get loads of hits, right? Well yes, bloggers do like to get loads of hits, so that’s not a problem. The problem is whether or not advice on how to remove scareware leads to a malware free system.

Having watched the development and deployment of scareware over the last two years, and having noted the increasing sophistication of the current crop of scareware applications, I have come to the conclusion that scareware removal instructions have limited value, except perhaps, for the most technically sophisticated computer user. I’m not fussy on having to give up 1,000 + hits a day, but……

While it may be true that this type of malware, otherwise known as “rogue security software”, is scary, it is so much more than that. A more accurate name for this parasitic infectious software is “destroyware”, since the effect it has on a victim’s system is just that.

Once infected by this type of malware, the chances of a safe system recovery are essentially non-existent. The installation of such malware invariable leads to a critically disabled PC. A reformat and a system re-install, are more than likely in the cards.

Yes, I know, there are literally hundreds of sites that will walk you through the process of attempting to eliminate this type of scourge, but simply put – if your computer becomes infected with the current scareware circulating on the Internet, you are, in most cases, wasting your time attempting to save your system.

If you doubt this, take a look at Trojan War Resolution: The Battle Won, in which the author (Larry Walsh of eWeek), describes a three day marathon system recovery attempt which was ultimately successful, but…..

The best advice? Have your PC worked on by a certified computer technician, who will have the tools, and the competency, to determine if the infection can be removed without causing system damage. Computer technicians do not provide services at no cost, so be prepared for the costs involved.

If you have become infected by scareware (rogue software), and you want to try your hand at removal, then by all means do so.

The following free resources can provide tools and advice you will need to attempt removal.

Malwarebytes, a very reliable anti-malware company, offers a free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, a highly rated anti-malware application which is capable of removing many newer rogue applications.

411 Spyware – a site that specializes in malware removal. I highly recommend this site.

Bleeping Computer – a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software. This is another site I highly recommend.

SmitFraudFix, available for download at Geekstogo is a free tool that is continuously updated to assist victims of rogue security applications.

What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue software.

Be careful in downloading freeware or shareware programs. Spyware is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download this type of program only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, or sites that you know to be safe.

Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications.

Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is Web of Trust, an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on, that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.

Do not click on unsolicited invitations to download software of any kind.

Additional precautions you can take to protect your computer system:

When surfing the web: Stop. Think. Click

Don’t open unknown email attachments

Don’t run programs of unknown origin

Disable hidden filename extensions

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Disable scripting features in email programs

Make regular backups of critical data

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.

Install a personal firewall on the computer.

Install anti-virus/anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all email attachments

If you enjoyed this article, 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.

6 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Personal Perspective, Recommended Web Sites, Rogue Software, Rogue Software Removal Tips, scareware, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Downloading Fake/Rogue Software Hurt$

Being a member of the Blogging community has a major upside. It allows me to have direct contact with a great many other Internet users; many more than I would have the opportunity to communicate with, in any other way.

One of the benefits is the real life issues that other users are dealing with, come to my attention quickly. Overwhelmingly, these issues and experiences are positive, but given the current state of Internet security the negative issues that affect Internet users are an unavoidably part of the package.

Over the last year or so, I have written 40 or more articles concerning rogue security software. Here’s why.

adware 3 There is an epidemic of rogue security software on the Internet at the moment; much of it using social engineering to convince users’ to download an unsafe rogue security application.

Rogue security software uses malware, or malicious tools, to advertise or install itself on an unaware user’s computer. After installation, false positives; fake or false malware detection warnings in a computer scan, is the primary method used to convince the unlucky user to purchase the product.

After all, a dialogue box that states “WARNING! Your computer is infected with spyware! – Buy [XYZ] to remove it!” is a powerful motivator. Clicking on the OK button takes the user to the product download site.

To make matters worst, the installation of rogue security software frequently leads to a critically disabled PC, or in the worst case scenario, allows hackers access to important personal and financial information.

So what does this mean to real people; people like you and me? Let me share with you the following factual stories on the impact that rogue software has on people, brought to my attention by the very people who have been victimized:

Victim #1 – “What do you do if you were duped into buying the XP Antivirus software? Should I take any precautions such as canceling credit card and/or email passwords etc.? Is my home edition of avast! 4.8 Antivirus enough to keep me safe from bogus and/or rogue software???? Please help…my computer is my life! Thank you”.

Victim #2 – “Unfortunately I fell for the “virus attack” after trying to remove it, gave in and bought the XPAntivirus. They charged me not only for what I had bought but charged me again, $ 78.83 for something which I hadn’t ordered, nor ever received. It was a nightmare trying to get in touch with anybody, and I finally connected with a guy with an accent, who told me to E-mail the billing service re: my problem. I wrote them tried to call, it’s been a week, and they still won’t contact me to clarify what occurred. I printed off a purchase order from them when I bought the XP which verifies what I received. Anybody know what state their in, I’ll notify the states attorneys office. These people are crooks”.

banking1

If you are a new computer user or relatively inexperienced on the Internet then the following recommendations are for you.

A good partial solution to the problem is to ensure you have installed, and are running, an anti-malware application such as ThreatFire, free from PC Tools. This type of program operates using heuristics, or behavioral analysis, to identify newer threats.

As well, Malwarebytes, a reliable anti-malware company has created a free application, RogueRemover to help you remove rogue software and to help keep you safe and secure.

A further resource worth noting is the Bleeping Computer web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software.

The following recommendations are repeated particularly for new or inexperienced users.

What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue security software.

Be careful in downloading freeware or shareware programs. Spyware is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download this type of program only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, or sites that you know to be safe.

Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications.

Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is Web of Trust, an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.

Do not click on unsolicited invitations to download software of any kind.

Additional precautions you can take to protect your computer system:

When surfing the web: Stop. Think. Click

Don’t open unknown email attachments

Don’t run programs of unknown origin

Disable hidden filename extensions

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Disable scripting features in email programs

Make regular backups of critical data

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.

Install a personal firewall on the computer.

Install anti-virus/anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments

4 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Rogue Software, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Free Botnet Protection – Trend Micro’s RUBotted

It is becoming increasingly clear that at the current rate of growth in malware in circulation and under development, computer operating systems and applications will continue to be compromised at an ever increasing rate.

According to Panda Labs, Panda Security’s laboratory for detecting and analyzing malware, it has received and analyzed an average of more than 3,000 new strains of malware every day, over the course of the last year. In their view, this represents a malware epidemic. It would be difficult to argue with that assessment.

In terms of percentages, according to Panda, the number of new examples of malware appearing in 2007 increased 800% with respect to 2006 which, in turn, witnessed an increase of 172% over the previous year.

With the increase in user participation on MySpace, FaceBook, and other social networking sites, the installation of malware, based on social engineering, seems poised for a major increase in activity.

Essentially then, it’s up to individuals to keep up as best they can; which means installing as many levels of protection as possible.

Trend Micro has released a beta of RUBotted, a small program that watches for incoming bot related traffic which is worth considering adding to your security toolbox.

From TrendSecure

Trend Micro RUBotted (Beta) is a small program that runs on your computer, watching for bot related activities. RUBotted intelligently monitors your computer’s system behavior for activities that are potentially harmful to both your computer and other people’s computers.

RUBotted monitors for remote command and control (C&C) commands sent from a bot-herder to control your computer. Additionally, RUBotted watches for an array of potentially malicious bot-related activities, including mass mailing – a common activity performed by a bot-infected computer.

RUBotted co-exists with your existing AV software, providing advanced bot specific behavior monitoring. RUBotted does not rely on frequent, network intensive updates to ensure your computer’s continued protection.

Operating Systems:

Windows 2000 Professional (Latest Service Pack Installed)

Windows XP Professional or Home Edition (Latest Service Pack Installed)

Windows 2003 Server (Latest Service Pack Installed)

Windows Vista (32 Bit with Latest Service Pack Installed)

Download at: Trend Micro

For another view describing how we got to be in danger from Botnets read TechPaul’s – Modern Nightmare

10 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Beta Software, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools