Tag Archives: malware

Give Malware The Old Heave Ho! – Trap It With Sandboxie!

imageWouldn’t it be terrific if, following a mistake which led to malware making its way on to your computer, you could wave a magic wand, utter the words – “get thee gone” – and, quick as you like – no more malware infection?

Luckily, you can do just that. You don’t have to be a magician – you don’t have to deliver a magic enchantment – but, you do need to be running a sandbox based isolation application.

And that, brings me to Sandboxie – the King of isolation applications in Geek territory. Rather than geek you into the land of nod – today’s review is what I like to refer to as a “soft review”.

Simply put, Sandboxie, when active, creates a virtual environment (of a sort), on a computer by redirecting all system and application changes, to an unused location on a Hard Drive. These changes can be permanently saved to disk or, completely discarded.

A case in point for isolating web surfing:

While surfing the Net, an inexperienced user mistakenly accepts an invitation to install a scareware application but realizes, after the fact, that this is a scam. Operating in a “real” environment, the damage, unfortunately, would already have been done.

Operating in an isolated environment with Sandboxie active; the system changes made by this parasite could be completely discarded – since the attack occurred in a – “I’m not really here” environment .

An obvious part of reviewing an application is, providing a technical breakdown of just how an application gets the job done – or, in some cases how/why an application doesn’t quite get it done.

It’s not often that I get caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” in terms of illustrating an applications aptitude in getting the task accomplished. In this case however, Ronen Tzur, Sandboxie’s developer, has taken the expression – a picture is worth a thousand words – and definitely run with it. Well done Ronen!

From the site: Introducing Sandboxie

Sandboxie runs your programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer.

The red arrows indicate changes flowing from a running program into your computer. The box labeled Hard disk (no sandbox) shows changes by a program running normally.

The box labeled Hard disk (with sandbox) shows changes by a program running under Sandboxie. The animation illustrates that Sandboxie is able to intercept the changes and isolate them within a sandbox, depicted as a yellow rectangle. It also illustrates that grouping the changes together makes it easy to delete all of them at once.

Fast facts:

Secure Web Browsing: Running your Web browser under the protection of Sandboxie means that all malicious software downloaded by the browser is trapped in the sandbox and can be discarded trivially.

Enhanced Privacy: Browsing history, cookies, and cached temporary files collected while Web browsing stay in the sandbox and don’t leak into Windows.

Secure E-mail: Viruses and other malicious software that might be hiding in your email can’t break out of the sandbox and can’t infect your real system.

Windows Stays Lean: Prevent wear-and-tear in Windows by installing software into an isolated sandbox.

The developer has provided a clear and concise Getting Started tutorial – which includes:

How to to use Sandboxie to run your applications

How the changes are trapped in the sandbox

How to recover important files and documents out of the sandbox

How to delete the sandbox

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32 and 64 bit).

Available languages: English, Albanian, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Polish, Portuguese (Brasil and Portugal), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Ukrainian.

Download at: Sandboxie

A Caveat: You may run with Sandboxie free of charge – but, once past the initial 30 days, you will be reminded that a lifetime licensed version is available for € 29 ($38 USD at today’s conversion rate).

My good buddy from Portugal, José – a super geek – is of the opinion that Sandboxie is in a class of its own. I couldn’t agree more José.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Malware Protection, Virtualization

Valentine’s “Love” In Your Inbox – Could Be Malware On Your Computer.

imageValentine’s Day will be on us before we know it – so, it’s not too early to get ready for the deluge of  “I love you”, “Wish you were mine”………………., and of course, the customary – “Happy Valentine’s Day” emails.

Hopefully, you will have a Happy Valentine’s Day – but, that happy feeling could be ruined, if you fall victim to the explosion of “spam and scam” that’s aimed at lovers, this time of year –  every year. Much of it designed to take a swing at unsuspecting users machines – leading to a malware infection.

In previous years, starting  just about this time, we saw abnormally high rates of this type of spam and, since cyber crooks are opportunity driven; we’ll see much more of this type of cybercriminal activity this year, I expect.

Perhaps you’re a very cool person who’s significant other is always sending you neat little packages in your email. MP3 files, screensavers, cartoons, YouTube videos, and the like. Could be – you get them so often, that you just automatically click on the email attachment without even thinking. If, you are this type of person, here’s a word of advice – start thinking.

The hook, as it always is in this type of socially engineered email scam, is crafted around exploiting emotions. We’re all pretty curious creatures and, let’s face it, who doesn’t like surprises. I think it’s safe to say, we all find it difficult, if not impossible, to not peek at love notes received via email.

The unfortunate truth is, these spam emails often contain links that deliver advertisements, or worse – redirect the victim to an unsafe site from which malware can be installed on the victim’s computer.

Here’s a tip – If you see something along the lines of – This email contains graphics, so if you don’t see them, view it in your browser – consider very carefully – before you click on the link.

A couple of years ago, a friend, who is an astute and aware computer user, fell for one of these carefully crafted teasing emails. On opening the email, he was taken to a site which had pictures of hearts and puppies, and was then asked to choose which one was for him. You’ll notice that “choosing” involved opening an executable filea cardinal sin.

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Fortunately, he got his geek on in time – common sense prevailed, and he backed out of this site. If he had clicked on this executable file, he would have begun the process of infecting his machine with a Trojan. A Trojan which, in this case, connected to a remote command and control site – (effectively, turning over control of his computer to a cybercriminal). Nasty – I think you’ll agree.

Experienced users are on guard year round for these, and other types of scam/spam email.

You know what to do; right?

Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.

Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.

Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar.

If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web site designed to download malware onto your computer.

Cyber crooks have moved on from using just emails, as a malware delivery vehicle. So, be on the lookout for fraudulent Valentine’s Day greetings in:

Instant Messenger applications.

Twitter.

Facebook.

Chat forums, and so on.

This just in @ 11:56

Uzbekistan Government Cancels Valentine’s Day

That settles it – I’m not giving any Uzbek women my love in protest. Sorry ladies.   🙂

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Filed under bots, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Email, Malware Alert, Social Networks, spam

Think BEFORE You Click! – How Hard Is That?

imageHARD, apparently.

I recently repeated a small experiment (for the third year in a row), with a group of “average computer user” friends, (12 this time around), and I was disappointed to see (once again), that the conditioned response issue to “just click” while surfing the web, was still there.

Still, I’m always hopeful that reinforcing the point that clicking haphazardly, without considering the consequences – the installation of malicious code that can cause identity theft and the theft of passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information – would have had some impact. Apparently not.

But, I haven’t given up. I’m prepared to hammer them repeatedly until such time as I can make some progress. In the meantime, I expect that curiously browsing the web blissfully unaware of the considerable malware dangers, will continue to be the modus operandi for my friends.

They’re not alone in their “clicking haphazardly” bad habits. Many of us have learned to satisfy our curiosity simply by a mouse click here, and a mouse click there. Arguable, we have developed a conditioned response (without involving conscious thought), to – “just click”.

It can be argued, that our “just click” mindset poses the biggest risk to our online safety and security. In fact, security experts argue, that a significant number of malware infections could be avoided if users stopped “just clicking haphazardly”, or opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous. However, this type of dangerous behavior continues despite the warnings.

Most visitors to this site are above average users (I’m assuming that you are too), so, I have a challenge for you.

Take every appropriate opportunity to inform your friends, your relatives, and associates, that “just clicking haphazardly” without considering the consequences, can lead to the installation of malicious code that can cause identity theft and the theft of passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information.

Help them realize that “just clicking”, can expose them to:

  • Trojan horse programs
  • Back door and remote administration programs
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Being an intermediary for another attack
  • Mobile code (Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX)
  • Cross-site scripting
  • Email spoofing
  • Email-borne viruses
  • Packet sniffing

They’ll be glad that you took an interest in their online safety. And, best of all, by doing this, you will have helped raise the level of security for all of us.

A point to ponder:

Since it’s proven to be difficult to get “buy-in” on this – “think before you click safety strategy” – I generally ask the question – do you buy lottery tickets? Not surprisingly, the answer is often – yes. The obvious next question is – why?

The answers generally run along these lines – I could win; somebody has to win;……. It doesn’t take much effort to point out that the odds of a malware infection caused by poor Internet surfing habits are ENORMOUSLY higher than winning the lottery and, that there’s a virtual certainty that poor habits will lead to a malware infection.

The last question I ask before I walk away shaking my head is – if you believe you have a chance of winning the lottery – despite the odds – why do you have a problem believing that you’re in danger on the Internet because of your behavior, despite the available stats that prove otherwise?

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Online Safety, Spyware - Adware Protection

Way To Go WOT! – Now Protecting 30 Million Users

imageThe Internet is one kickass place – survey after survey continue to show that cybercriminals are picking off unaware/undereducated users, as if they were shooting fish in a barrel.

It’s hardly surprising then, that an enormous industry (no, not big, not large – but, enormous) has developed, based on the principal that technology can act as a counterfoil  to the most nefarious cyber criminal schemes. Criminal schemes which are, after all, technology driven.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if this has been an effective solution.

No matter the side you come down on regarding this complex issue, dancing around naked (so to speak ) on the Internet – that is, without adequate Browser protection, is akin to fumbling and stumbling through the toughest neighborhood in your area – after dark.

Internet security starts with the Web Browser (it does not end there – but, one step at a time), and WOT (Web of Trust, which passed the 30 million user mark yesterday – January 9, 2011), substantially reduces the risk exposure that comes with wandering through the increasingly risky neighborhood that the Internet has become.

Based on the way that I surf the Web, there’s no contest as to which of the 17 add-ons I have installed on Firefox, is most important to my piece of mind. The hands down winner – the single most important add-on for my style of surfing is WOT (Web of Trust).

Sure, that’s a pretty bold statement – but, since I frequently hear from readers who, after installing WOT on their computer systems, feel reassured that they are safer than ever before, and who express a renewed sense of confidence, and  a new level of enthusiasm, while surfing the Internet, I’ll go with it.

If you’re not yet a WOT user, read the following in-depth review – you may reconsider.

What is WOT?

WOT, one of the most downloaded Firefox Add-ons at the Mozilla add-on site, (also compatible with Internet Explorer and Chrome), is a free Internet Browser resource which  investigates web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams – helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

For example, here’s a Google search in which WOT indicates which sites are safe. Notice the unsafe (red) sites, in the Google ads!

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Take a look at what happens if, in fact, you do end up on an unsafe web site. WOT’s dropdown warning curtain blocks access to the site until you determine otherwise.

WOT - new

WOT operates in a unique fashion in order to offer active protection to the Internet user community. It stands out from the crowd of similar applications, by soliciting the opinions of users/members whose views on web site safety are incorporated into the overall site safety rating. According to WOT, the user community now has reputation data on over 35 million sites worldwide.

The shared information on a site’s reputation includes trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety. As well, in order to achieve maximum security coverage, WOT uses thousands of trusted sources including phishing site listings, to keep users protected against rapidly spreading threats.

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WOT integrates seamlessly with search engine results from popular search engines including Google, Yahoo, MSN and other popular sites, and provides impressive protection against Internet predators.

WOT recently added the top three web-based email services – Google Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, to its free security protection. You can now feel more confident and secure, since WOT checks links embedded in your email, and warns you of dangerous web sites so that you can avoid spyware, spam, phishing, identity theft and other Internet scams; before you click on dangerous embedded links.

How WOT works:

The Browser add-on icon, displays a color rating for each site you visit, indicating whether a site is safe to use, should be used with caution, or avoided entirely.

Using traffic light colors, (green, yellow, and red), WOT leaves you in no doubt as to the safety rating of a web site. An impressive feature of WOT is the dropdown transparent warning curtain, shown earlier, triggered on visiting a dangerous site.

Recognizing that up to ten percent of Internet users are at a disadvantage however, due to colorblindness, and cannot rely on an Internet safety system based on color coding, the Web of Trust development team recently released an adaptive version of WOT. This version incorporates equivalent alternative information, through assistive or adaptive technology, for colorblind users.

This colorblind accessible application provides the same critical benefits to those individuals who have to contend with visual impairments, as it has to those of us who have come to rely on WOT as a major defense against the pervasive hazards we encounter on the Internet.

Quick facts – WOT checks the following on each web site visited:

Trustworthiness

Vendor reliability

Privacy

Child Safety

More quick facts:

Ratings for over 30 million websites

The WOT browser add-on is light and updates automatically

WOT rating icons appear beside search results in Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Gmail, etc.

Settings can be customized to better protect your family

WOT Security Scorecard shows rating details and user comments

Works with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome

Interface supports English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and Finnish.

System requirements: Windows (all), Mac OS X, Linux

Download at: MyWot

Surf more securely by installing this browser add-on which will provide you with an in-depth site analysis based on real world results. Keep in mind however, that you are your own best protection. Stop · Think · Click.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools

Pssst – Let’s Talk About, Uh…. Porn

imageI’ll talk to you about porn. Your friends probably won’t – other than to deny that they watch it – or, perhaps to decry its prevalence on the Internet. If you want to see your friends scramble for cover –  if you want to see some terrific open field running  – ask them specifically, if they watch porn on the Internet.

Yes, I know, they don’t. But, someone’s watching. Run a Google search for “porn” and you might be surprised to see that there are considerably more than One Billion search results.

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Click graphic to expand.

Despite its popularity and huge profitability – the pornography industry has revenues larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined – that’s right, the combined revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix …. – it’s still seen, by many (at least publicly), as a back room activity.

Although porn has almost reached a level of respectability (I’ll focus on the almost), or perhaps because of it there are those who would rather see porn back in the gutter, and dark alleys, where they think it belongs.

But not Kyle Richards. Richards is a 21 year old Michigan jail inmate who believes he’s being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he can’t access pornography. Alleging that denying his request for erotic material subjects him to a “poor standard of living” and “sexual and sensory deprivation”, he’s suing.

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Macomb County Jail; Getty

Rather than referring to Kyle as an idiot, which he undoubtedly is – I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt (at least I’ll pretend I am). Could it be that he’s a porn expert – that he knows pornography has always been a force to be reckoned with. From prehistoric rock paintings depicting sex, through to the Greeks, Romans, the Renaissance period ( in which it flourished), and on to the mass production of pornography in the early 20th century. Yeah, sure!

Purveyors of pornography have always been quick to adapt to new technologies – especially mass production opportunities. No surprise then, to see the distributers of sexually explicit material almost immediately adopted the Internet as the preferred method of  mass distribution –  a technology which allows uncontrolled (by moralists, governments, and others), and anonymous access to explicit sexual content. Not a bad business model!

As an Internet security blogger, I have a certain level of concern with respect to pornographic Websites. Just to be clear – I’m not a member of the Morality Police, and I hold no religious, or political views, on the availability of pornography on the Internet; except of course, pornography which is clearly illegal, or morally reprehensible.

Instead, my main concern is focused on the primary/secondary use, that many of these sites are designed for – as a vehicle for the distribution of potentially harmful malware applications that can be surreptitiously dropped onto unwitting visitors computers.

With that in mind, over the years I’ve written a number of articles dealing with this issue  including – Dangerous Porn Sites – Tips on How to Avoid Them, Porn Surfing – Put a Software Condom on Your Computer!, Kate Middleton Nude – As If!, and Nude Pics Of Your Wife/Girlfriend Attached – Click Here.

I’ve no idea why precisely, but lately (the last 2/3 months), these articles have been getting an unusually high number of hits – generally from search engine referrals. Whatever the reason, it’s a good thing. Hopefully, it’s an indication that surfers are beginning to recognize at least one of the many potentially unsafe activities on the Internet. Hopefully!

A selection of  those search engine referrals  – most are multiples of 30/40 or more (sex, porn, nude, dangerous, safe ….), to this site on a typical day. Some of them are just a little strange – I think. But then, who am I to judge what’s strange?  

porn eskimo, safe porn sites, dangerous porn, dangerous porn sites, most dangerous porn sites, dangers of porn surfing, safe sites for porn, safe porn sites, are pornography websites safe, how can i protect my computer from porn, safest porn sites, porn sites safe, how many porn sites are dangerous, safe porn sites to visit, sex in malware, porn sites without malware, what is a safe porn site, visiting porn sites, pornsites, you porno, how common is illegal pornography, safe porn site recommendation, how to avoid seeing porn, what porn website are safe, porn eskimo (have to admit this one made me LMAO), cam 4 porno gratissurfing (no idea what this one means), 18 teens sex, upskirts webcams, sex with horse by girls, girls sex with horse, the free earlybird wake up local free sex web on one on one cam, nude photo revealing kate middleton, kate middletonnud, kate middletonnude, wife nude pics, share your wife nude pics, i saw your wife nude

I’ll admit that this post rambles a bit – but, I just had to reference the Kyle Richards (I need my porn) story, somehow. More and more often, I find myself shaking my head at just how eerily crazy this world really is.  Smile

This article was originally posted July 5, 2011.

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Point of View, Tech Net News

Cyber Crooks Taking Another Crack At Yahoo Instant Messenger

imageI’ve been known to  stare at my monitor, humming a few bars of  – “IM malware go away, and come back another day”, from time to time. Doesn’t seem to work though.  🙂 IM malware never goes away – it just fades into the malware background chatter.

Despite the fact that Instant Messenger malware (which has been with us since 2005, or so), doesn’t create much of a fuss, and seems to prefer to stay just below the horizon, it’s as dangerous as it’s ever been.

In business, when something works, why bother to reinvent the wheel. A little nip here; a little tuck there and hey – you’re still in business! No surprise then, when we see that cybercriminals subscribe to this business philosophy.

–   Yahoo Instant Messenger Under Attack Again or Still? (May 4, 2010)

It’s easy to forget about the risks associated with Instant Messaging precisely because of this lack of profile. Until, that is, IM malware comes knocking – hard – like now!

BitDefender’s, Bogdan Botezatu, reports in a recent Blog post, that Yahoo Messenger is currently under attack – and, taking a hard knocking.

From the Blog:

New Yahoo Messenger 0-Day Exploit Hijacks User’s Status Update…and spreads malware, of course!

A newly discovered exploit in version 11.x of the Messenger client (including the freshly-released 11.5.0.152-us) allows a remote attacker to arbitrarily change the status message of virtually any Yahoo Messenger user that runs the vulnerable version.

Since you’re an astute and educated user, none of this comes as a surprise, I’m sure. But, what about a typical user – would he/she be surprised, do you suppose?

Let’s take a look –

In a recent Symantec survey, which questioned computer users on the most likely routes cybercriminals use to drop malware on unsuspecting users – just 3.9% of survey participants believed that Instant Messenger applications had a role in malware distribution.

Unfortunately, the only surprise here is – this is not a surprise.

The harsh reality is, from a security perspective, Instant Messaging applications can present considerable security risks. So naturally, cyber-criminals use Instant Messaging as a primary channel to distribute malware and scams.

We’ve talked about IM security a number of times here, but with this ongoing attack, a quick refresher might be in order.

As with any other application you use on the Internet, having the knowledge that allows you to use it safely, and being aware of current threats, will make for a more positive experience when using these wildly popular applications.

The following is a series of sensible tips for users to get the most out of these programs, securely and responsibly.

Don’t click on links, or download files from unknown sources. You need to be alert to the dangers in clicking on links, or downloading files from sources that are not known to you. Even if the files or links apparently come from someone you know, you have to be positive that it really was this person who has sent the message.

Check with your contact to be sure the files, or links are genuine. Remember, if you click on those links, or run those attachments without confirmation, you run the risk of letting malware into your computer.

Use only secure passwords, and be sure to change them regularly. The longer and more varied they are – using a variety of different characters and numbers – the more secure they will be.

Protect personal and confidential information when using IM. Revealing confidential or personal information in these types of conversations, can make you an easy target for Internet predators.

For added protection when using a public computer, ensure that you disable any features that retain login information to prevent other users from gaining access to your instant messaging once you leave.

It’s virtually impossible to avoid publishing your email address on the Internet, however do so only when absolutely necessary. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for accounts to target.

Instant Messanger changed Above all, if you are a parent, take exceptional care with the access that your children have to these programs.

The risk here goes beyond malware, as sadly, they could come into contact with undesirable individuals. The risk is low of course, but……..

Elsewhere in this Blog, you can read an article on protecting your children on the Internet and download free software, Parental Control Bar,  to help you do just that.

BTW, you can hum “IM malware go away, and come back another day”, to the new version of that old familiar tune – Rain Rain Go Away.    Smile

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Instant Messenger Safety Tips, Interconnectivity, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Yahoo

Aldi Bot – Build A Botnet For $15!

imagePsst – wanna build a Botnet – one that can launch a DDoS attack, steal passwords saved in Firefox, steal passwords for Pidgin, remotely execute any file, or use a victim’s computer as a proxy?

No big deal if you haven’t a clue when it comes to the intricacies of coding, or programming – doesn’t matter if you don’t have any hacking skills – if you’ve got just €10 (about $15) to spare, you can buy Aldi Bot …..

Screen shot published by the malware creator.

…. and, create your very own Botnet. Of course, you’ll need the underground forum addresses where this sly tool is available (no, you won’t get those here).

In an over the edge example of “let’s see how far I can push the envelope” – the kiddie script creator will provide hands on installation instruction for those who need it. According to researchers at GData, who discovered Aldi Bot –

“Chat logs, posted by the malware author, reveal that he actually provides personal assistance for the installation and implementation of the bots, even to malware rookies, so-called noobs, who do not have the slightest idea of how to work with the malicious tools. He even uses TeamViewer to make his customers happy and ready to attack.”

Aldi Bot in action.

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In case you might think that this type of do-it-yourself malware creation kit is a new or an unusual phenomenon; it isn’t. Downloadable malicious programs, like this, have been available for some time. Examples of DIY malware kits we’ve covered here in the past, include –

Facebook Hacker

T2W – Trojan 2 Worm (Constructor/Wormer)

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Constructor/YTFakeCreator

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BitTera.C

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I find it discouraging that wannabe cyber crooks, whose technical skills never got past the thumb-texting stage, have such ready access to such powerful malware creation tools. A rather sad reflection on the lack of resources available to the law enforcement community.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Hackers, Kiddie Script, Malware Alert, Windows Tips and Tools

BitDefender Safego – A Free Social Network Cyber Criminal Defense System

imageNo matter my own thoughts on Facebook and Twitter (which are not entirely positive), it’s impossible to ignore the impact social networking has had on how we communicate.

It’s hardly surprising then, that Facebook and Twitter, and sites like them, have proven to be the perfect channel for cyber criminals to “communicate” with potential victims.

In the past hour alone, over 25,000 articles dealing with Facebook malware have been posted to the Net – as the following screen capture indicates. Ponder on that – 25,000 articles dealing with Facebook malware in one hour! That number certainly reaches the threshold of what I consider an epidemic.

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Just for a reference point – the “any time” total, using the same search string, is 44 Million results.

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My usual skeptical observation:

You might think, given those numbers, that a typical social network user would take minimum precautions to ensure that their privacy, and computer system security, are protected against compromise by employing a sound safety strategy. But no, typical social network users’ are #####, ********, !!!!!!!!!! , ………… Unfortunately, given that this is a G rated blog, I’ll have to leave the expletives deleted.

Still, for the sake of fairness, I will note – cyber criminal craftiness should not be underestimated. The video below is just one example of how an unaware user can be misled; leading to a perfect storm of malware issues.

Click on the following graphic to play the video.

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There is no perfect safety solution in an open system like Facebook, or Twitter – but, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood that cyber criminals will successfully disrupt your piece of mind.

A few months ago, Bitdefender released a free application – Safego for Facebook- which has just been updated to offer the same level of protection to Twitter users. If you are a Twitter or Facebook users, I urge you to checkout this free application.

From the Bitdefender site:

Bitdefender Safego for Facebook:

Using in-the-cloud scanning, Bitdefender Safego protects your social network account from all sorts of e-trouble: scams, spam, malware and private data exposure. But, most importantly, Safego keeps your online friends safe and …close.

By installing the BitDefender Safego app, users will receive:

Privacy protection – users are warned when they should modify their Facebook privacy settings so personal information isn’t exposed

Automatic scanning –users simply press the “scan now” button to get a snapshot of their Facebook security status

24/7 protection – Facebook accounts are protected even when users are not logged in to Facebook

Protection for friends – users will have the ability to warn their friends about infected links in their Facebook accounts

Bitdefender Safego for Twitter:

Initially launched for Facebook users, Bitdefender Safego is now ready to protect Twitter accounts as well. Bitdefender Safego uses the Bitdefender antimalware and antiphishing engines to scan URLs in the cloud.

Bitdefender Safego keeps your Twitter account safe by:

Checking unknown users before you follow them
Checking the accounts you are following
Scanning your direct messages for spam, suspicious links or highjacking attempts.

See BitDefender Safego in action on YouTube.

BitDefender Safego dashboard shown below.

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For additional information on BitDefender Safego, please visit the BitDefender Safego app page on Facebook, or the app page on Twitter.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, BitDefender, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, FaceBook, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Protection, Software, Twitter

3..2..1 – UPS Malware Blasts Off!

imageMy friends over at Commtouch, got me on the horn to advise me that the UPS email scam (with malware attached), has bounced up significantly. From what I can see, the malware is a Fake Alert Tojan which installs a rogue security application. So, be on your guard.

I’m on vacation this week, so I’ll post the Commtouch Café blog article verbatim.

A wild malware rollercoaster – over 500% increase

The UPS name is once again being used to spread vast amounts of email-attached malware.   The last week has seen an extraordinary increase – over 5.5 times the average level before the outbreak.  The attack closely resembles the large outbreak reported on at the end of March.  The graph below illustrates the increase:

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There are numerous versions of the email text – some examples:

Good afternoon!

Dear Client , Recipient’s address is wrong

Please fill in attached file with right address and resend to your personal manager

With best regards , Your USPS .com Customer Services

Good afternoon!

Dear User , Delivery Confirmation: FAILED

Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our department

With respect to you , Your UPS Services

GOOD AFTERNOON!

Dear Client , We were not able to delivery the postal package

Please fill in attached file with right address and resend to your personal manager

With Respect , Your UPS .COM

ATTENTION!

DEAR CLIENT , RECIPIENT’S ADDRESS IS WRONG

PLEASE PRINT OUT THE INVOICE COPY ATTACHED AND COLLECT THE PACKAGE AT OUR DEPARTMENT

With best wishes , Your USPS .us Customer Services

These emails also come with a range of subjects such as:

  • USPS Attention 060532
  • USPS: DELIVER CONFIRMATION – FAILED 17592718
  • USPS id. 182407
  • USPS DELIVERY CONFIRMATION 7264145
  • From USPS 4009717
  • Your USPS id. 44531036
  • USPS ATTENTION 44123265

In the previous attack the filenames were quite limited – unlike this attack – some examples:

  • “ups_NR9Yl2673.zip”
  • “Ups_NR5pY500268590.zip”
  • “UPS_NR5Da3052.zip”
  • “MyUps_NR9hN8574.zip”
  • “MYUPS_NR5gX736615890.zip”

Reminder: In the last series of attacks the subjects were changed to use the DHL brand a few days after the initial attack.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, email scams, Malware Advisories

With Kaspersky’s Free TDSSKiller You’ll Have A Fighting Chance To Kill Rootkits

imageThere’s malware, and then – there’s MALWARE. In other words, all malware is not created equal. For example, Rootkits are not your common everyday piece of malware.

Rootkits are often designed to overwrite the Hard Drive’s MBR (master boot record), the first sector – Sector 0 – where the code to boot the operating system following BIOS loading, resides.

As a consequence, Rootkit files and processes will be hidden in Explorer, Task Manager, and other detection tools. It’s easy to see then, that if a threat uses Rootkit technology to hide, it is going to be difficult to find.

And yes, I’m aware that major AV application developers are fond of pointing out that their products will flag and remove Rootkits. Users are expected to believe those claims – DON”T!

From a previous article (June 2011) –

Microsoft is telling Windows users that they’ll have to reinstall the operating system if they get infected with a new rootkit that hides in the machine’s boot sector. A new variant of a Trojan Microsoft calls “Popureb” digs so deeply into the system that the only way to eradicate it is to return Windows to its out-of-the-box configuration.

Scanning for Rootkits occasionally, is good practice and by scanning with the right tools, Rootkits can be hunted down and eradicated (maybe) – but  personally, I would never trust that any detection/removal application has successful removed a Rootkit.

If you have detected that your system has become infected by a Rootkit, I recommend that you first wipe the drive –  using a free tool such as Darik’s Boot And Nuke, reformat, and only then – reinstall the operating system.

Rootkit detectors can be difficult to work with and consequently, my good buddy Michael C., following the last post on Rootkit detection – Got A Rootkit Infection? – Find Out With These Four Free Rootkit Detectors – posed the following question: “Just wondering if there is a rootkit detector for us “average users” that doesn’t require a MIT degree.”

And, there is.

Kaspersky Labs has developed the free TDSSKiller utility which is designed to detect and remove common Rootkits. Specifically, Rootkits in the Rootkit.Win32.TDSS family (TDSS, Sinowal, Whistler, Phanta, Trup, Stoned) – in addition to regular Rootkits (now, there’s a misnomer), as well as Bootkits.

Usage instructions:

Download the TDSSKiller.zip archive and extract it into a folder on the infected (or possibly infected) computer with an archiver (free 7-Zip, for example).

Run the TDSSKiller.exe file.

The utility can detect the following suspicious objects:

Hidden service – a registry key that is hidden from standard listing.

Blocked service – a registry key that cannot be opened by standard means.

Hidden file – a file on the disk that is hidden from standard listing.

Blocked file – a file on the disk that cannot be opened by standard means.

Forged file – when read by standard means, the original content is returned instead of the actual one.

BackBoot.gen – a suspected MBR infection with an unknown bootkit.

The interface (as shown below) is clean and simple. Click on any of the following graphics to expand.

image

A scan in progress.

image

The completed scan shows the system is clean and free of Rootkit infections. You’ll note that the scan finished in 10 seconds.

image

Following the scan, you will have access to a full report – if you choose.

image

System requirements: Win 7, Vista, XP (both 32 and 64 bit systems).

Download at: Kaspersky

Since the false positive issue is always a major consideration in using tools of this type, you should be aware that tools like this, are designed for advanced users, and above.

If you need help in identifying a suspicious file/s, you can send the file/s to VirusTotal.com so that the suspicious file/s can be analyzed.

To read a blow by blow description of just how difficult it can be to identify and remove a Rootkit, you can checkout this Malwarebytes malware removal forum posting.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Kaspersky, Malware Removal, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, Recommended Web Sites, Rootkit Revealers, rootkits, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools