Tag Archives: threat

My Days Are Numbered – Someone Wants Me Dead!

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I sometimes wonder if it isn’t a prerequisite that Nigerian scammer wannabes are required to graduate “comedy school”, before they get their scammers license, and are set free to practice their newfound skills on the marginally intelligent.

In an updated twist on an old theme (the infamous 419 scam), Nigerian scammers have upped the ante in a variant of their usual email scam nonsense – the hitman, “I’m gonna kill you” email. These fear-provoking emails (at least they’re intended to be scary), contain a threat that the recipient will be murdered.

Hitman emails are not a new threat – they’ve  been circulating on the Internet since at least early in 2007. They come; they go, and come and go again.

There are many variations of this email, here’s one example received here yesterday. In this particular email, the scammer has bcc’d (blind carbon copied) any number of upcoming murder victims. Seems as if the murder/assassination business is a growth industry.   Smile

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You have been betrayed!!! It’s a pity that this how your life is going to come to an end as your death had already been paid for by someone who is very close to you from all investigations.

I have ordered 3 (three) of my men to monitor every move of you and make sure you are not out of sight till the date of your assassination. According to the report I gets, you seem to be innocent about what you have been accuse but I have no business with that, so that’s why am contacting you to know if truly you are innocent and how much you value your life.

Get back to me if you sure want to live on, ignore this mail only if you feel it’s a joke or just a threat. Don’t forget your days on earth are numbered, so you have the chance to live if only you will comply with me.

WARNING: Tell no one about this mail to you because he or she might just be the person who wants you dead, and if that happens, I will be aware and am going to make sure you DIE instantly.

I will give you every detail of where to be and how to take any actions be it legal or illegal, that’s only when I read from you. You need to stay calm and act unaware of this situation and follow instructions because any move you make that is suspicious; you will DIE as your days are numbered.

On a more serious note:

This scam illustrates the lengths to which these crooks will go to entrap the unwary and gullible. Unfortunately, the description “unwary and gullible”, is easily applied to substantial numbers of Internet users.

As an experienced and cautious Internet user, it’s safe to say that you will not be deceived by this type of clumsy attempt to defraud but, you might be surprised how often reasonably intelligent people are.

So, 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 419 scams on the Internet. In doing so, you help raise the level of protection for all of us.

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Filed under 419 Scam, Cyber Crime, Email

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how the malicious scam works:

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

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

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

Harry Potter Threat  Exposed

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

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

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

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The victim is instructed to decompress the archive.

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RAR and password.txt files suddenly appear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Gunshot – The Hitman With A Heart e-Blackmail

imageI sometimes wonder if it isn’t a prerequisite that Nigerian scammer wannabes are required to graduate “comedy school”, before they get their scammers license and are set free to practice their newfound skills on the marginally intelligent.

In a new twist on an old theme (the infamous 419 scam), Nigerian scammers have upped the ante in a variant of their usual email scam nonsense – the hitman, “I’m gonna kill you” email. These fear-provoking emails (at least they’re intended to be scary), contain a threat that the recipient will be murdered by – are you ready for this – “Don Gunshot”.

But, Don is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill “I’m gonna blast ya out of your shoes” hitman. No, Don it seems, has a big heart. For a measly $5000, Don will take you off the list of his current projects. Just in case you might think that Don is no gentleman, he’s gone the extra mile and politely signed off on the email, with a kindly – Regard(s). Too funny!

Hitman emails are not a new threat – they’ve  been circulating on the Internet since at least early in 2007. They come; they go, and come and go again.

So it’s hardly surprising to see that Symantec has just identified a new wave of hitman emails currently making the rounds. Although there are many variations of this email, here’s one example:

Click graphic to expand to original size.

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Graphic courtesy of Symantec.

On a more serious note:

Don’t act fast as Don suggests. Don’t send $5000. Do contact the Police – this an attempt at extortion.

This scam illustrates the lengths to which these crooks will go to entrap the unwary and gullible. Unfortunately, the description “unwary and gullible”, is easily applied to substantial numbers of Internet users.

As an experienced and cautious Internet user, it’s safe to say that you will not be deceived by this type of clumsy attempt to defraud but, you might be surprised how often reasonably intelligent people are.

So, 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 419 scams on the Internet. In doing so, you help raise the level of protection for all of us.

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

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, email scams, Humor, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Symantec, Windows Tips and Tools

Is Your Internet Neighborhood Overly Risky?

image In the real world, the neighborhood in which you live can have some impact on the chances of you been victimized by a crime. In the virtual world, the same principal is in operation – if we can, for the sake of discussion, call the country in which you live your “neighborhood”.

In a recent study (released August 26), by AVG, attack data from 100 million PCs in 144 countries during the last week of July, 2010, was analyzed. From the data, AVG was able to develop a security threat risk factor assessment based on the country in which a user resides.

I was not surprised to see Japan proved to be the safest Internet neighborhood. Nor was I surprised to see that North America (all three countries taken together), is the riskiest, with a user facing a 1 in 51 daily chance of being attacked. Europe, on the other hand, is somewhat safer, with a user facing a 1 in 72 daily chance of being attacked.

Selected survey results:

Turkey leads the league table for risky surfing, with AVG’s software having to step in to protect on average, one in 10 users of the Internet. Web users in Russia (1 in 14 were hit), Armenia (1 in 24), and Azerbaijan (1 in 39) also suffer high rates of attacks

Other areas where Web surfers are disproportionately at risk include Bangladesh (1 in 41), Pakistan (1 in 48) and in Vietnam and Laos in Southeast Asia, where the chances of facing an attack are both one in 42.

What about other major Western countries? The United States ranks number nine when it comes to the riskiest places to surf the Web (1 in 48), the United Kingdom ranks 31st (1 in 63), Australia comes in 37th (1 in 75) while Germany comes in at number 41 (1 in 83).

Leone had the fewest attacks with, on average, one in 692 Web surfers facing an attack. Niger also fared well, with just one in 442 Web surfers on average experiencing an attack. It is important to note however that these countries have a low level of internet access, with low broadband penetration.

It is because of its high internet use and broadband penetration that Japan, where there is an average of just one in 404 facing an attack, is arguably the safest place to surf the net.

Meanwhile Taiwan (1 in 248 attacked), Argentina (1 in 241 attacked), and France (1 in 224 attacked) all came in the top 20 safe list.

It’s important to remember that this survey, like all such surveys, is a one time snapshot. Internet threats are not static. Threats, in both the number and complexity, can fluctuate wildly.

A common sense tip worth repeating:

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

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

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The Teenage Hacker – Fact Or Myth?

Do teenage hackers exist in any significant number? More to the point – do they constitute a threat to your security on the Internet?

Hard statistics are understandably difficult to come by. But, in a study released last year by Panda Security, which looked at the Internet habits of adolescents between 15 and 18 years olds, we may have seen a least a partial answer.

Some of the general statistics brought out by the survey included the following:

More than 50% of those surveyed between 15 and 18 years old, use the Internet daily

Average weekly On-line connection time 18.5 hours

On-line studying activity accounted for 32% of this time

The remaining time involved leisure activities, such as playing games online, watching videos, listening to music, chatting, etc.

These statistics seem real and not unexpected, based on my own experience. But additional statistics generated by the same survey, may be cause for concern.

Two thirds of the survey participants stated they had, at least once, attempted to hack a friend’s instant messaging, or social network account.

As an Internet Security Blogger, the following statistic though, was particularly concerning – According to Panda “17% of adolescent users claim to have advanced technical knowledge, and are able to find hacking tools on the Internet. Of these, 30% claim to have used them on at least one occasion. When asked why, 86% said that curiosity had led them to investigate these public tools”.

See today’s article – BitDefender Says Facebook Hacker: A Do-It-Yourself Kiddie Script Is On The Loose!

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I can tell you, based on reader responses to a number of articles I have written on so called “Kiddie Scripts”, and the background research for those articles, the tools referred to by these young people are readily available on the Internet.

I suspect that the typical Internet user would be outraged to see how readily available these free, and in many cases sophisticated hacking tools, really are.

The final statistic from Panda’s survey that interested me was the following, spoken to by Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs.

“Even though the percentage is very low, we still come across too many cases of adolescent cyber criminals, such as the recent high-profile case of the 17-year-old creator of worms for Twitter.

We estimate that just 0.5% of these are detected by the corresponding authorities. Those who are drawn into hacking out of curiosity may well end up discovering the financial potential of this activity, and becoming criminals themselves.”

So, is this type of teenage behavior a real threat, or just fanciful teenage thinking? I’ll leave it for you to decide.

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Email Scammers Threaten to Have Me Charged with Money Laundering

image I’m use to receiving scam emails (up to 10 a day), which attempt to entice me into divulging personal information with all sorts of promises of quick money – if only I complete a particular task. A task which always involves me having to spend money.

Generally, these types of emails , while they may be designed to cheat the unwary, are helpful in the extreme; paving the way to illusive riches with a detailed list of easy to follow instructions. The type of email I like to call – “the wolf in sheep’s clothing” email.

But, in a spam scam email I received this morning, the scammers have abandoned this helpful attitude and instead, have resorted to intimidation and threats.

Here are the highlights of this threatening email:

We, office of the international police association (IPA) hereby write to inform you that we caught a diplomatic lady by the name Mrs. Vernon Wallace at (John F Kennedy International Airport ) here in New York with a consignment box filled with United States Dollars.

She said that the consignment box belongs to you and that she was sent by one Edward Luis to deliver the consignment box to your doorstep not knowing that the content of the box is money.

In this regards you are to reassure and prove to us that the money you are about to receive is legal by sending us the Award Ownership Certificate showing that the money is not illegal.

The Award Ownership Certificate must to be secured from the office of the Nigerian Senate President … this is because the fund originated from Nigeria.

Furthermore, we are giving you only but 3 working business days to forward the requested Award Ownership Certificate … if you didn’t come up with the certificate we shall confiscate the funds into World Bank account then charge you for money laundering.

I think these scammers have watched one too many movies.

I know that you won’t be deceived by this type of clumsy attempt to defraud, but you would be surprised how often reasonably intelligent people are. Believe it or not, there are some people, somewhere, who will believe this nonsense.

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 types of scam on the Internet. In doing so, you help raise the level of protection for all of us.

As well, ask your friends, relatives, and associates to keep the following tips in mind while on the Internet:

Don’t click links in emails or social networking sites. 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.

Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.

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

Install a security solution and keep it up-to-date.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Email, email scams, internet scams, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Phishing, spam, Windows Tips and Tools

Malicious Software – Malware Explained – Solutions

malware.jpgThere are many kinds of software that are written to be troublesome and that can be dangerous to an unprotected system. These programs are referred to as malware; shorthand for malicious software.

 

Details

The most common types of malware programs are listed below. Some types of software are written to mimic behavior of simple living organisms. That is, they reproduce themselves or live parasitically in other systems. It’s not that these programs are actually alive, but they can be just as annoying and hard to deal with as a living pest. The level of threat associated with malware corresponds to the intent and skill level of the programmer.

Trojan

A Trojan horse program is named after the legendary Trojan horse used by the ancient Greeks to compromise the defenses of the city of Troy. A Trojan horse program appears to be a program that is useful or desirable, but in reality hides malicious software that can compromise a system. A Trojan horse program can do significant damage to a computer system, including deleting files or stealing private data such as passwords or credit card numbers. A Trojan horse program that hosts a server is referred to as a Remote Access Trojan.  This type of Trojan is becoming increasingly popular.

Virus

A virus is a program fragment that uses other programs to run and reproduce itself. A typical virus is inserted into the code for an otherwise normal program. When the affected program runs, the virus code also runs, allowing the virus to operate. Usually the first thing a virus will do is try to insert copies of itself into other programs or more serious, the system code.

Worm

A worm is a type of program that uses the networking facilities of a computer to reproduce itself. E-mail is a common mechanism for worm reproduction. Even if a worm carries no hostile payload, it can easily duplicate itself to the point that network traffic involved in its reproduction consumes the bulk of resources available.

The following link will take you to an article within this Blog where you can download highly effective anti-malware freeware programs to protect your system from malicious software.

Click Here:  Free Security Applications  

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