Tag Archives: spam

Valentine’s Day – Malware Love Is Coming Your Way

From the – here we go again files. Love in your inbox – malware on your computer.

imageLike clockwork, spammers and cybercrooks ramp up the volume of Valentine’s spam emails aimed at unsuspecting users – every yearstarting just about now.

You know the ones –  “Falling in love with you”, “Sending you my love”, “Memories of you”, “I Love You Soo Much” …………. (saccharin sells I guess  Smile  ). Since cyber crooks are opportunity driven, you can expect much more of this type of cybercriminal activity again this year.

Maybe 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. You get them so often, that you just automatically click on the email attachment without 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 based on exploiting emotions. The fact is, we’re all pretty curious creatures and let’s face it, who doesn’t like surprises. I think it’s safe to say, many of us find it difficult, if not irresistible, to not peek at love notes received via *email.

The reality.

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

Would you be fooled?

A couple of years back, a friend, who is an astute and aware computer user, fell for one of these carefully crafted teasing emails. Clicking on the link led him to a site which had a graphic of hearts and puppies – and of course,  the teaser.

image

Luckily, common sense prevailed and he backed out of this site. If he had clicked on the teaser, he would have begun the process of infecting his machine with a Trojan. A Trojan designed to connect to a remote command and control center.

Unfortunately, being smart is often NOT enough to protect yourself. At a minimum – make sure you have an effective security solution installed; capable of detecting both known and new malware strains.

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 – 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, etc..

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6 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, email scams, Malware Alert

Am I Dead? Investigation.org Wants to Know

imageI woke up this morning to find that I wasn’t dead. That’s kind of a bonus, since there have been mornings when I wasn’t entirely convinced –  if you know what I mean. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Assuming, one is still alive – I suspect that there might be a certain sense of urgency in refuting a rumor that one has passed on to bigger and better things (hopefully, bigger and better things, but……).

In the latest craziness on the spamming scene – Investigation.org (now there’s a catchy name), has crafted a phishing email – loaded with power words – in an effort to provoke the need to act.

First, to prove you’re not DEAD – and subconsciously, who doesn’t have a need to do that? Second, in the happy event you’re not DEAD – the good news is – you’re in line to “receive and confirm your funds without any more stress”. Good news – no?

In an attempt to show the proper degree of sincerity (just in case you’re DEAD, as you read the email), Investigation.org goes that extra mile – “MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE – YOUR JOY AND SUCCESS REMAINS OUR GOAL.”

Text of this unintentionally hilarious email –

URGENT CONFIRMATION NEEDED TODAY/CALL FOR DETAILS

Investigation Bureau office@investigation.org

8:48 AM (5 hours ago)

Attn: Sir/Madame (don’t know if I’m a man or a woman – what gives?)

We are writhing to know if it’s true that you are DEAD? Because we received a notification from one MR. GERSHON SHAPIRO of USA stating that you are DEAD and that you have giving him the right to claim your funds.

He stated you died in a CAR accident. He has been calling us regarding this issue, but we cannot proceed with him until we confirm this within after 7 days of no respond.

Be advised that we have made all arrangements for you to receive and confirm your funds without any more stress, and without any further delay.

All we need to confirm now is you been DEAD Or still Alive. Because this MAN’S message brought shock to our minds. And we just can’t proceed with him until we confirm if this is a reality OR not.

But if it happened we did not hear from you after 7 days, then we say: “MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE” YOUR JOY AND SUCCESS REMAINS OUR GOAL. May the peace of the Lord be with you wherever you may be now.

Your Faithfully,
Mrs. Vivian Martins
Tel: +123-806-731-6969

Email: investigation_departtt1@hotmail.com

OK, I will admit, that to be taken in by a scam email like this, or any scam email for that matter, one would have to be the type of person whose antenna doesn’t pick up all the channels.

Still, when you consider that 90% of all emails are spam – and scams are a big part of that percentage – it’s fair to say – more than a few unlucky souls who’ve lost contact with the mother ship, will fall for this type of scam email.

What a sad reflection on the state of the Internet.

24 Comments

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

MailWasher Pro 2012 Free Today Only @ BitsDuJour – Save $29.95

imageToday only, the giveaway site BitsDuJour is offering MailWasher Pro 2012, the highly rated anti-spam utility – FREE. The free licensed product can be installed on up to three machines.

From the developer’s site:

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Go to: Bitsdujour.com

Please follow the download instructions exactly.

Available languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Polish, Dutch, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Ukranian, Swedish, Russian, Czech, Norwegian, Armenian, Croatian, Danish, Japanese, Portuguese and Pirate!

2 Comments

Filed under downloads, Free Full Versions, Giveaways, Software Giveaways, spam

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.

image

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.   🙂

11 Comments

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

OMG! Mark Zuckerberg Sent ME An Email!

What a rush! Mark Zuckerberg knows I exist and, even better than that – he just gave me $200. Yes! $200! Thanks Mark; I’ll get right on that.   Smile

You don’t believe me I hear you saying – then, take a peek at this email from my Gmail spam box. Oops, I’ve just given myself away – haven’t I? The email is in my SPAM box. With good reason, of course.

While it’s true, that in this particular case, spam filters have isolated this email as both spam and a probable fraud – do not rely on filters as the ultimate safeguard. That’s your job – you are your own best protection.

image

Click to expand.

As an experience and educated surfer, you’re quite use to navigating over the rough trails of the “Wild West” Internet. You know, that this email is just too preposterous to be taken seriously. Although, as difficult as it is to believe, there are those who are gullible enough to  respond.

If you’re a regular reader here, please forgive me for repeating the following same old – same old – advice.

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

A technical approach to protecting yourself against fraudsters:

Check whether the email was authenticated by the sending domain. Click on the ‘show details’ link in the right hand corner of the email, and make sure the domain you see next to the ‘mailed-by’ or ‘signed-by’ lines matches the sender’s email address.

Make sure the URL domain on the given page is correct, and click on any images and links to verify that you are directed to proper pages within the site.

Always look for the closed lock icon in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window whenever you enter any private information, including your password.

Check the message headers. The ‘From:’ field is easily manipulated to show a false sender name. Learn how to view headers.

If you’re still uncertain, contact the organization from which the message appears to be sent. Don’t use the reply address in the message, since it can be forged. Instead, visit the official website of the company in question, and find a different contact address.

How gullible can people be? When Michael Jackson passed, I wrote a piece entitled “Hey Sucker – Read This! Michael Jackson’s Not Dead!”, simply as a test of “curiosity exploitation”.

The results that followed were astonishing – within days, this article was getting thousands of daily hits. Even today, this article continues to get hits. Talk about gullible people!

14 Comments

Filed under Cyber Crime, cybercrime, Email, email scams, FaceBook

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?

18 Comments

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

The Fundamental Principle Of Safe Surfing – Think “Common Sense”

imageSo what can you add to your computer’s Firewall, Security Applications, and Browser security add-ons to ensure you have the best protection available while you’re surfing the web? Well, how about something that’s free, and readily available? Something called “Common Sense”.

Common sense: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.

–   Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

Common Sense Tip #1 – Given the virtual epidemic of malware currently circulating on the Internet, don’t run, or install programs, of unknown origin.

Internet users’ continue to be bombarded with rogue security software which has reached epidemic proportions. There seems to be no end to the release of new rogue security software threats. Rogue software will often install and use a Trojan horse to download a trial version, or it will perform other actions on a machine that are detrimental such as slowing down the computer drastically.

Download applications, particularly free programs, only from verifiably safe sites (sites that guarantee malware free downloads), such as Download.com, MajorGeeks, Softpedia, and the like.

There are many more safe download sites available, but be sure you investigate the site thoroughly before you download anything. Googling the site, while not always entirely reliable, is a good place to start. A recommendation from friends as to a site’s safety is often a more appropriate choice.

Common Sense Tip #2 – Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources. It’s been estimated that 96% of emails are spam. While not all spam is unsafe, common sense dictates that you treat it as if it is.

Common Sense Tip #3 – Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin. If the link has been sent to you in a forwarded email from a friend, be particularly cautious. Forwarded emails are notorious for containing dangerous elements, and links.

Common Sense Tip #4 – Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them in the browser’s address bar. If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web designed to download malware onto your computer.

Common Sense Tip #5 – If you do not use a web based email service then be sure your anti-virus software scans all incoming e-mail and attachments.

Common Sense Tip #6 – Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

Most of all, understand that you are your own best protection.

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.

8 Comments

Filed under Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Safe Surfing, Windows Tips and Tools