Tag Archives: WOT

Google Gives Users The Finger One More Time

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The 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. And Google, the “Do No Evil” company has just made it easier for the bad guys to take aim at you, and me. Read on.

As I reported in March of last year – Search Engine Results – More Malware Surprises Than Ever!

Cyber criminals have bumped up the level of search engine malware.

One in five search topics lead to malware…………

Google search results produced 38 percent of overall search engine malware.

Luckily, those users in the know – were aware that steps could be taken to mitigate the risk of an infection transmitted through a bad search engine result. The tool of choice – one I have long recommended to regular readers here – has been WOT (Web of Trust).

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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You can now scratch the reputation icon associated with the Google ads shown in the previous screen capture. Here’s the bad news. Google has reversed course, and no longer (as of April 13) allows a reputation assessment icon (in other words – a SAFETY assessment icon), to be displayed on Google sponsored ads.

According to WOT – “Due to Google’s policy change, WOT and some other similar tools can no longer show reputations for sponsored links on Google’s search results, or elsewhere on Google ads.”

In the following screen capture (taken today), you’ll notice WOT’s reputation icon (the green circle), attached to generic search results. You’ll also notice, on the TigerDirect (a Google ad), a reputation assessment is no longer available.

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In my view, Google can take its “Do No Evil” motto, and “shove it where the sun don’t shine”. No matter the reasoning behind this move – the net result is, Internet surfers are at more risk than they were last week. Tell me that’s not EVIL!

A big “thank you” to regular reader Michael F. for the heads up.

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26 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, Google, Internet Safety Tools, Software, WOT (Web of Trust)

Take Your Modified Application Installer And Shove It!

imageModified application installers – a good thing that allows a user to select a bevy of additional software (browser toolbars, homepage alterations ……..) or, just one more example of enterprise feeding the greed machine?

A nasty comment? Too strong a sentiment, perhaps? More to the point – do I even have the right to question how a free application is packaged? Probably not – but, I can let my fingers do the talking by walkin’  – away, that is.

That being the case – it seems counterproductive to annoy me (and, other users), by insisting that I play a silly game of “uncheck the boxes”, in order to install an application. A moments inattention and, in nothing flat – the user is faced with a “gotcha”.

I’ve covered this issue previously in – We Don’t Want No Stinkin’ Toolbar! so, I won’t bludgeon the question to death (well, maybe just a little), except to offer this from the previous article.

So here’s a question for “ethical” freeware providers. How many toolbars do you think an average user needs? Ten? Twenty? Thirty………….. ?

I can already hear your answer “ but the user can uncheck the appropriate boxes when installing the application”.

Sure! Unless you’re detached from the real world, you’re more than aware that a typical user does not uncheck this box. Then, over time, the user is at a loss to explain why their machine has slowed to a crawl.

Could it be because your toolbar, along with twenty others, become active at startup – ya think!!

Of all the reader comments on this article – not one was supportive of developers, or download sites, that  behave in this manner.

Instead, typical comments included the following –

“I’m with you on this; damn annoying practice and completely unnecessary, just makes us all mad as hell.”

“To me it’s just a slightly less malicious form of malware (when its not out- right malware).”

“Even free programs that I thought never would stoop to that level have added this practice. I won’t mention their names but some of them are supposed to be an A,B, C”Cleaner” to get rid of junk files, while installing a toolbar that’s a junk file. It’s disheartening.”

“I will absolutely not pay for any software from a vendor who’s tried to con me. They are no better than the other malware smugglers.”

Which brings me to CNET’s download.com – until recently my preferred site to direct readers to, following an application review. But, no longer. Neither readers here, nor I, need to turn on our “scam radar” when downloading/installing, what is ostensible a freeware application.

Especially since, any number of superb download sites like MajorGeeks, FileHippo, PC World – just to name a few – offer the same service without the game playing.

The following is just one example of the “new” CNET download structure. Their little game of – Let’s fuel the insatiable need for greed. 

I should point out; this new structure has raised the ire of more than a few developers who have been outraged by CNETs modification of their install package – without permission.

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As bad as this is – at least in my view – that’s mild compared to the experience I had yesterday while installing the open source application GimpShop, a modified version of the popular open source application – GIMPGNU Image Manipulation Program.

There’s no suggestion here that GimpShop.com attempts, in any way, to mislead potential users. In fact, they’re upfront about their modified installer. Provided, that is, the potential user reads the “fine print”  on the site.

Follow along with the modified install process and then, you decide if this process is over the edge – or, if it fits within your comfort zone.

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Round one – Yahoo!

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Round two – mysearch.

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Round three – Norton.

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Round four – WeatherBug.

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Round five – let’s dig a little deeper.

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I checked out the More Information link which opened a browser window as shown below. Thank you WOT (The WOT Browser add-on shows you which websites you can trust based on millions of users’ experiences –  easy-to-use, fast and completely free.)

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WOT’s report –

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Despite all this – I did, in fact, complete the installation so that I could test the applications capabilities in handling the following photo of my Grandfather’s 1919 enlistment in the British Army – which was dug up by my nephew Brian Mullins, in the British National Achieves. The application failed to meet my expectations.

Untouched original photo – possible the most artifact laden photo I’ve ever worked on.

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PhotoShop retouch.

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This was a pretty round about way to link back to my nephew’s Philadelphia based technology company, I’ll admit. But hey, he’s family.   Smile

26 Comments

Filed under downloads, Opinion, Point of View

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

Search Engine Malware – The Same Old, Same Old

In the News within the past 3 days

Web security firm Armorize – over 6 million e-commerce web pages have been compromised in order to serve malware to users.

Ed Bott Report – criminal gangs that specialize in malware love search engines, because they represent an ideal vector for getting Windows users to click on links that lead to potentially dangerous Trojans. The latest attack targets ads, and the social engineering is frighteningly good.

Not in the News

The specifics may be news but, this particular malware attack vector is so old I’m surprised that more Internet users aren’t aware of it. No, I take that back – based on a conversation I had just last night.

Me: “So, what antimalware applications are you currently running?”

She: “Well, I can cut and paste and I can get on the Internet, but I don’t worry about all that other stuff. I don’t understand it anyway.”

I’m well past the point where I allow myself to show surprise when I hear this type of response – it’s just so typical. Given that level of knowledge, it’s hardly surprising then, that consumer confidence in the reliability of search engine results, including relevant ads, is taken for granted.

I’ve yet to meet a typical user who would consider questioning a search engine’s output as to its relevant safety.  It’s been my experience, that typical Internet users blindly assume all search engine results are malware free.

This, despite the reality that the manipulation of search engine results, exploiting legitimate pages, and the seeding of malicious websites among the top results returned by search engines in order to infect users with malware, is a continuing threat to system security.

Here’s how the cyber crooks do it:

When a potential victim visits one of these infected sites the likelihood of the downloading of malicious code onto the computer by exploiting existing vulnerabilities is high.

Let’s take, as an example, a typical user running a search for “great vacation spots” on one of the popular search engines.

Unknown to the user, the search engine returns a malicious or compromised web page as one of the most popular sites. Users with less than complete Internet security who visit this page will have an extremely high chance of becoming infected.

There are a number of ways that this can occur. Cyber-crooks can exploit vulnerabilities on the server hosting the web page to insert an iFrame, (an HTML element which makes it possible to embed another HTML document inside the main document). The iFrame can then activate the download of malicious code by exploiting additional vulnerabilities on the visiting machine.

Alternatively, a new web page can be built, with iFrames inserted, that can lead to malware downloads. This new web page appears to be legitimate. In the example mentioned earlier, the web page would appear to be a typical page offering great vacation spots.

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.

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams

Don’t open unknown email attachments

Don’t run programs of unknown origin

Disable hidden filename extensions

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched

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

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Disable scripting features in email programs

Make regular backups of critical data

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

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer

Install a personal firewall on the computer

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

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

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.

The following comment (posted here March 15, 2011), illustrates perfectly the issues discussed in this article.

Funny you write about this today. I was reading about the spider issue Mazda was having and wanted to know what the spider looked like so I Googled it, went to images and there it was. There was also a US map that had areas highlighted, assuming where the spiders exist, and before I clicked on the map I made sure there was the green “O” for WOT for security reasons.

I clicked on the map and BAM I was redirected instantly and hit w/ the “You have a virus” scan malware. I turned off my modem then shut my computer off. I restarted it and scanned my computer w/ MS Security Essentials and Super Anti Spyware. MS Essentials found Exploit:Java/CVE-2010-0094.AF, and Trojan:Java/Mesdeh and removed them. I use WOT all the time, but now I’m going to be super cautious.

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Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Browser add-ons, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Search Engines, Software, trojans, Windows Tips and Tools

Online PC Care Tells Me–“Remove Onlinepccare Scam From Your Website”

imageThe funny think about the “truth” is – it’s a variable. There are countless versions of the truth (unfortunately), including – “your truth”“my truth” –  and, “the truth”. It seems Online PC Care is questioning “my truth”, and is disputing the contents of an article I wrote earlier this year – Is Online PC Care A Scam? – outlining my highly unsatisfactory personal experience with one of its cold call sales representatives.

In an email (full contents below), Online PC Care states – “the scam posted in your website is seriously hampering our image”.  Now, before I go any further into this, let me say – Yes!! I’m absolutely delighted to hear it!

Online PC Care’s email:

Sir,

It has come to our notice that your website is publishing illegitimate scams against us. This is resulting in a very bad reputation of our company. The concerned person or party who has posted this has no substantial proof in his/her claim. So this is causing a negative effect in the minds of the persons who are visiting your website.

First off let me inform you that our company has a very good reputation in the market, there are lots of satisfied customers who has recommended us to their friends and relatives. In our website, we have numerous testimonials from people all over the world.

In such a case, the scam posted in your website is seriously hampering our image. I suggest that you review our website thoroughly, study the way we operate, and then come to the conclusion whether the scam posted is a legitimate one.

So it is a request on our part to remove the scam, as it is appearing totally ill. It’s a good initiative you have taken to reveal the scams, but when the allegations are made against the company who is so well reputed in the market and very honest in their services, then it becomes troublesome for us to bear it. We are waiting for your reply soon in this matter.

Yours Faithfully,
Amit Roy
Onlinepccare Team

Response breakdown:

The concerned person or party who has posted this has no substantial proof in his/her claim.

The article is a virtual blow-by-blow description of a cold sales call from a Online PC Care representative, who lied throughout the conversation regarding fictitious issues affecting my PC – “the overall presentation was structured in such a way, as to attempt to fraudulently convince me I had serious computer problems, including a non-existing malware infection.”

In fact, the conversation referred to in the article, was the second such conversation I had with an Online PC Care representative in that particular week. I choose to report on the second call only, in order to give your company the benefit of the doubt – such as it was.

First off let me inform you that our company has a very good reputation in the market, there are lots of satisfied customers……

You need to step back for a moment and take a reality break. The reality is – your company’s reputation sucks – big time! It behooves you to do a simple Google search using the keywords “Online PC Care”. I’m sure you’ll not be surprised to see that “Scam”, is the keyword most often associated with your organization.

The following screen capture attachment will save you the effort. You’ll notice in the Google search returns, that the Microsoft Answers site addresses the issue as to whether your company is involved in scamming.

Question – What information could “online pc care” a India cold call extract from my computer? They said they were Microsoft, I allowed them remotely into my computer, to fix a so called problem.

Answer – As you’ve realized – it was a scam!. You now need to notify your bank, and anyone who you’ve had dealings with over the internet, shut down your PC, and do a reformat/reinstall – there is no telling what the scammer has installed on your PC without your knowledge.

I feel a certain sense of accomplishment in seeing that my article is included on the first page. It seems “my truth” has validity. BTW, I’m curious to know if you’ve requested that Microsoft take down this inflammatory reference to your company. If not, then why not?

Google search inquiry – first page.

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Let’s not stop there though. If you’re curious as to what your reputation is, as determined by the WOT (Web of Trust) online community, then you’ll be interested in the attached WOT reputation rating screen shot.

It couldn’t get much worse – could it?

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FYI, I’ve included in this response a few (a very few), article references which investigate Pecon Software (your umbrella company).

The Guardian newspaper – Police crack down on computer support phone scam: An article which reports that Indian authorities shut down 19 websites following complaints from the UK and elsewhere. Here’s an excerpt –

Among those shut was supportonclick.com, registered to Pecon Software, a firm based in Kolkata. The company has now opened another support website, called onlinepccare.com, which is the subject of numerous online complaints about cold calling, “bullying”, and claims that the caller is from Windows PC care.

The Guardian newspaper: PC virus’ phone scam: supportonclick company insists it is innocent. Here’s an excerpt –

After being told to download a program that handed over remote control of their computer so the caller could install “fixes”, the PC users were told of the £185 charge for subscription to “the preventative service”. But the “fixed” computers never had any problems, and the value of the service was dubious.

Unfortunately, typical computer users pay little attention to warnings, and alerts designed to warn then against sophisticated scams. On top of which, consumers are easily manipulated, by well trained and persistent cold callers (but you know that), into ignoring safety precautions.

I’m glad to have received your take-down request, since it provides me with another opportunity to shine a light on the dark spaces in which parasitic organizations, such as yours, thrive.

Just to be clear – the ship has sailed, and I have no intention of retracting anything I’ve written regarding Online PC Care, or honoring your request for a take-down.

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19 Comments

Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Opinion, Windows Tips and Tools

Free AntiMalware Software – And More – For Senior Computer Users

Looking at recent Internet usage statisticsimage, it seems obvious to me that older adults are now realizing that they don’t have to understand the “nitty gritty” of computer technology to send email-mail to friends and family, shop online, play games, make greeting cards, read book and film reviews, look into family genealogy, or find valuable health information on the Internet.

Here’s just one personal example of how older adults have jumped on the Internet bandwagon, and use it to great advantage.

Not too long ago, I ran into some older friends (in their 60s), who had recently gotten home after wintering in Florida. Throughout their time away (5 months, or so), they stayed in touch with their children, and grandchildren – virtually on a daily basis, using the free audio/video communication application, Skype. What a great use of technology!

Like the rest of us, Senior users are susceptible to cybercrime, and like the rest of us, need to protect their computers against the ever increasing exposure we all face to Trojans, Spyware, Viruses, Phishing Scams, and Identity Theft, while connected to the Internet.

Just for the record thought – statistically, it’s the deceptively named“tech savvy” generation, with their often misplaced confidence in their own abilities, who are more predisposed to malware infections and cyber criminal manipulation. Older users it seems, do know what they don’t know. My personal experience with a broad range of users, echoes these statistics.

For those that are members of this newly liberated group of Senior computer users, (who are not aggressive surfers), I’ve compiled a list of free anti-malware, and additional recommended applications, with simplicity of operation in mind – no manuals to digest, no tricky configuration to undertake; just install, and the applications will essentially do the rest.

But first:

Patch your operating system:

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Download and install all available patches, and service packs – if applicable, by connecting to Windows Update. Security Gurus will tell you that 50% of unpatched, and unprotected systems, will be infected with malicious code within 12 minutes of being connected to the Internet. Believe it!

Recommended Security Solutions:

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

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I’ve been running with this application for more than a year, and I must admit – I’m impressed with its performance. It installs easily, sets up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts despite my sometimes esoteric running requirements. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for all users but particularly, less experience users.

Microsoft Security Essentials

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Easy to set up and run, particularly for new users. The interface is positively simple – offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan. Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Additionally, Microsoft Security Essentials is free for small businesses with up to 10 PCs.

Immunet Free Antivirus

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Companion Antivirus: a superior community driven cloud based security application, which continues to gain increasing popularity – and rightfully so. In real time, Immunet keeps track of the state of security in the collective community (network), and should a member of the network (the community), encounter malware, you (as a member of the protected community), are instantly protected against the threat.

ThreatFire

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ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my own front line defenses.

SpyShelter Personal Free:

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SpyShelter is free anti-keylogging, anti-spyware program that protects your data from Keylogging and spy programs: known, unknown, and under-development. It detects and blocks dangerous and malicious programs, to help ensure that your data cannot be stolen by cyber criminals.

Firefox 4.0.1

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While Firefox is not technically an anti-malware application per se, with the most effective security add-ons, including NoScript, Adblock Plus and BetterPrivacy installed, it effectively acts as one.

Firefox 4.0.1 includes hundreds of improvements over previous versions.

WOT

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Web of Trust, a browser add-on which offers Internet users active preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites.

WinPatrol 20.5.2

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With WinPatrol, in your system tray, you can monitor system areas that are often changed by malicious programs. You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

Keep in mind, malware itself is only part of the problem. The method used to deliver the malware – social engineering – is the most significant problem currently, for an average user. Social engineering, is a sure winner for the bad guys.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly relying on social engineering to create an opportunity designed to drop malicious code, including rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, and spam bots on our computers.

Overcoming the instinctive human response to social engineering (and we all have it), to just “click” while surfing the Internet, will prove to be challenging . This instinctive response, will pose one of the biggest risks to your online safety and security.

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Internet Safety for Seniors, Malware Protection, New Computer User Software Tools, PC Tools, Skype, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

Super Bowl Sunday – A Super Opportunity For Cybercriminals

Unfortunately, exposure to cybercrime is one of the hidden costs associated with the use of the Internet. It’s not fair – but that’s the way it is.

imageExperienced computer users are aware that if an event is newsworthy, cybercriminals will exploit it to their own advantage. A reminder, from time to time however, is in all our interest.

Cybercriminals have jumped (as expected), on Super Sunday, and are already exploiting this annual event. It’s hardly surprising then, that security experts are predicting record-breaking numbers of Super Sunday related online threats, and cyber attacks.

Cybercriminals are experts at exploiting our curiosity surrounding current events through social engineering , and according to PC Tools, Stephanie Edwards, “Whenever there is a major event, like Super Sunday, we see this kind of increased activity.”

Given the frequency of cybercriminal activity on social networking sites, (designed, in part, to drop malicious code on computers), users need to be aware that the use of social media sites demands an extra degree of caution.

From the Web:

Ad Age predicts that advertisers will use social media at record levels to fan the flames of their ads. Increased numbers of fake ads targeting young males will appear in popular forums and sites. These ads featuring attractive women or cheerleaders encourage people to click on the links which may take them to suspicious or malicious websites.

A “drive-by attack” can occur when a link is inserted onto popular video sharing websites that promise users access to Super Sunday commercials. If a user clicks on the link, they may be redirected to ads not related to Super Sunday or in more extreme cases, users’ personal information may be taken unknowingly through malicious system exploits.

In addition to attacking users, hackers are increasingly targeting legitimate fan and sports websites through redirected links or ads. A football fan scanning the latest sports updates may unknowingly have malware downloading through interactive animations on the page.

Internet users are not entirely at the mercy of cybercriminals, and can take relatively effective steps to protect themselves  from being victimized. You may want to review the following actions you can take to protect your Internet connected computer system:

  • When surfing the web – Stop. Think. Click
  • Install an Internet Browser security add-on such as WOT , which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.
  • Don’t open unknown email attachments
  • Don’t run programs of unknown origin
  • Disable hidden filename extensions
  • Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched
  • Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use
  • Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible
  • Disable scripting features in email programs
  • Make regular backups of critical data
  • Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised
  • Turn off file and printer sharing on your computer.
  • Install a personal firewall on your computer.
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet.
  • Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments.
  • Consider running your system in a “virtual environment. You can search this site with the keywords “virtual environment” which will produce a listing of articles covering both free, and commercial, virtual applications and add-ons.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, social networking, Windows Tips and Tools