Tag Archives: link

Your Website Traffic Log – The Trap Door To Spread Viruses?

Checking your Website traffic stats is not without some risk, as guest writer Bruno Deshayes explains in this thought provoking article.

imageYou get pleasantly surprised to notice an unknown website apparently sending traffic to you. When you click on the link not only do you find that the page does not mention your site at all but at best security essentials blocks the threat or at worst your browser locks up and it is anybody’s guess what the pirate is doing under the hood.

Better close down your PC altogether and run a virus check. If you run a laptop even turning the machine off will achieve nothing – you have to physically turn the laptop over and remove the battery for a forced shutdown! How many files could get infected by the time you finally do it?

I find those fake referral urls showing up in cPanel | AWStats but also in blogspot | stats | traffic sources.

The old trick of course was to send you an email loaded with some html data rather than plain text. Viewing the thing in outlook would automatically launch the browser and – too late – the malicious website is already loaded and doing its nasty work unbeknown to you.

I used to handle that one by always checking suspicious emails this way: While having emails preview disabled: right mouse click and choose properties in the floating menu. Then choose details and message source to view the raw email text.

If they send me some base64 encoded attachment and nothing else you know it is a nasty payload. I have used Gmail for some time and still read it in outlook because I don’t like the ads or the heavy JavaScript used on the Gmail website. When I go there occasionally I am amazed at all the spam that got filtered out!

The internet in the last 10 years has become a very mature market with every man (woman?) and their dog blogging and every hacker from India, Russia and China trying to make a quid in broken English or else trying to rort the system.

The spread of botnets silently programmed to check every security loophole and delegating their activity to hundred of infected machines has come to the attention of the main stake holders. Microsoft who used to hide behind a whole industry of virus scanners is now taking the lead with effective and free maintenance tools. Well, their future depends on it. If Windows is crippled by security issues it makes Apple the alternative of choice. But behind the glitz the Steve Jobs camp is now having to face the music and made to understand that not everything can be fixed by the same marketing spin.

The worrisome factor is that in a global economy there isn’t a single entity to police the internet. If you look on the bright side the plague of email spam has been brought down to a fair extend. Interpol has nabbed pedophiles networks. The nofollow tag has tamed blog comments link spammers and even WordPress has come up with an advanced tool to keep comment interaction within its community alive and buzzing.

Bruno Deshayes is a writer, designer and developer who runs a portfolio of online services. He can be politically incorrect for the sake of stirring things up and engaging his readers.

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Filed under Blogging Tips, Cyber Crime, Don't Get Hacked, Guest Writers, Opinion, Viruses, WordPress

BitDefender Study – Your Facebook and Twitter Link Clicking Habits Suck!

imageEarlier this month, I wrote an article Twitter, Tweets, Cyber-Criminals And You, in which I set out the potential security pitfalls associated with Facebook and Twitter, and described the type of wonky security behavior (based on personal anecdotal evidence), generally demonstrated by social networking users.

Realistically, one of the problems in using anecdotal evidence is – while the conclusion may be true, (in this case it is true), it doesn’t always follow directly from the evidence.

A few days ago, when BitDefender passed along the results of its new study on Facebook and Twitter users’ link clicking habits, which revealed that 97% of respondents will click on links shared within social networks without checking them for malware, which confirmed my anecdotal evidence, I must admit, I got that “Cheshire Cat” grin.

A quick overview of the test methodology:

BitDefender created Facebook and Twitter test profiles and built a circle of 1,900 friends interested in reading about the latest news from various domains covering an assortment of hot topics such as accidents, security news, entertainment industry news, and scientific discoveries.

In the span of one week, three URLs leading to malware were shortened and modified to make the malicious pages unavailable and harmless, then sent out to the list of friends.

Despite countless awareness campaigns aimed at  warning users about the possible dangers behind shortened links, ninety-seven percent of the test profile’s friends admitted to clicking the bad links.

More details on this study are available at MalwareCity.com

I’m by no means a luddite when it comes to social networking sites; quite the opposite in fact. On balance, social networking is a good thing – it’s opened new doorways of opportunity to stay connected.

But here’s the rub – with those positive opportunities, comes a new set of opportunities for cyber-criminals. So now, more than ever,  social network users need to be aware of the risks. And, quite obviously, reassess their link clicking practices.

If you are a Facebook user, you can you can increase your safety margin by using the free BitDefender safego application designed to keep social network accounts from being exposed to malware, and spam.

Update: Cosme, brought to my attention that there is a Firefox add-on designed to expand shortened URLs – Xpnd.it!

From the Mozilla site: Automagicallly expand and analyze any tiny URL so to avoid clicking on potentially harmful, malicious links! It supports more than 500 services and it is very fast, thanks to local caching plus three layers of remote caching on the server-side. Download here.

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Filed under BitDefender, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, FaceBook, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Reports, social networking, Social Networks, Twitter, Windows Tips and Tools