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How to Spot Fake Anti-Virus Software

fake-antivirusThis is a very good article on Fake Anti-virus software and it’s implications.

Take the time to read it and you may prevent the pain of Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud!!!

Article by Sue Marquette Poremba

Fake anti-virus (AV) software is a pain in the rear. It’s annoying as all get-out. And it can do a lot of damage to your computer. Just when you think you’ve figured out that it’s fake, the bad guys make changes.

If you’re lucky enough to have never experienced fake AV, it usually arrives as a piece of malware that pops up on your screen with a dire warning that your computer is infested with viruses — a lot of them.

If you click on the button, it offers to download the AV software to “clean” your computer. But that’s not a good idea.

“There are many versions of fake AV currently circulating on the Internet today,” said Raul Alvarez, senior security researcher for Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs in Sunnyvale, Calif. “While there are different variations, styles and names, they all share a common feature set.”

Anatomy of a scam

The first feature is a professional-looking graphical user interface that makes it look like a legitimate anti-virus application. Once the fake AV gets into a user’s computer system, it launches the interface and pretends to begin “scanning” the computer.

Once the “scan” is finished, fake AV typically tells the user that the system is riddled with malicious software

Next comes the crucial part: The fake AV wants payment in order to “clean” the system of all that bogus malware.

But don’t enter that credit-card information. Once you do, all that data gets shipped off to Eastern Europe or Brazil, and you immediately become a prime candidate for identity theft.

Even worse, some fake AV loads real malware, meaning you’ve just paid to have your computer infected, and others log your keystrokes or try to steal other information from your machine.

[8 Security Basics the Experts Want You to Know]

The new breed

Alvarez and his colleagues recently found a new variant of fake AV that’s got a brand-new look. They’ve given it the catchy name of W32/FakeAV.RA!tr.

“Once the malware is installed, an infected user receives a warning message that reads the software has discovered a spyware infection,” Alvarez said.

The warning balloon looks like it’s coming not from some random anti-virus software that you’ve never heard of, but from the real anti-virus package you’ve already installed. That’s pretty sneaky. 

The next part of the scam is par for the course.

“When a user clicks on this warning message, a new application window that resembles a legitimate anti-virus application appears, starts ‘scanning’ the system and begins displaying detected infections,” Alvarez said.

“Once the detection phase is complete, a new window appears that displays the number of infections the software has discovered. The window also includes an option for the user to remove the detected threats or ‘Continue unprotected.’ Common sense dictates a user selects remove the ‘threats.'”

If you continue to click through, you’ll next be asked for your credit-card information and you are taken to a checkout screen. Then things get bad.

“This version of fake AV displays a warning message whenever a user tries launching a program and is particularly nasty as it doesn’t allow a user to launch any applications from their computer,” Alvarez said.

How to protect yourself

Computers are infected with fake AV through infected email attachments, links within emails or social-media links that lead users to malicious sites that automatically infect PCs and Macs via drive-by downloads.

The trick to avoiding fake AV infection is to know what’s already on your system. You should already have genuine anti-virus software that you’ve personally bought or installed.

 Alvarez recommended being familiar with your anti-virus software and to know what it looks like when prompts you for an update, if it isn’t done automatically.

If an update or scan prompt doesn’t match your regular anti-virus software prompt, fake AV has most likely made its way onto your computer.

“Don’t forget, you already paid for the software on your computer,” Alvarez said, “so if you are being asked to pay for something, it is fake.”

If you do end up with fake AV on your system, be assured that you aren’t alone — this is a billion-dollar business for criminals.

First, scan your computer with your legitimate anti-virus software. If it’s blocked by the fake AV, reboot your computer in “safe” mode and scan again.

“In addition, it is advised to do an ‘offline scan,” Alvarez said. “This means a computer should to be scanned and cleaned outside of the full operating system to complete remediation.

“This requires a restart into the Windows Pre-installation Environment (WinPE) to run a scanning utility, such as Windows Defender Offline scan tool,” he added.

Article Source: Security News Daily

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Apple removes “more secure than Windows” claims

Screen-Shot-2012-08-24-at-3.13.59-PM[1]by Kevin McLaughlin

Apple recently changed the wording in the “Why You’ll Love A Mac” section of its website, removing longstanding claims about Macs being more secure than Windows PCs.

For years, Apple’s marketing has centered on the notion that Mac users are immune to the malware that routinely causes headaches for PC users.

Here is how Apple used to phrase this: “A Mac isn’t susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers. That’s thanks to built-in defenses in Mac OS X that keep you safe, without any work on your part.”

But sometime in the past few days, Apple changed this message to read: “Built-in defenses in OS X keep you safe from unknowingly downloading malicious software on your Mac.”

Apple also changed its description of OS X from “It doesn’t get PC viruses” to “It’s built to be safe”.

The original Apple web page, dated June 9 on Google cache, can be seen here.

The removal of Windows comparisons could signal a change in Apple’s security marketing strategy. Apple’s devilishly effective “Get a Mac” marketing campaign focused on the superior security of Macs over Windows PCs, and while researchers have warned that Macs are not inherently more secure, many Mac users still operate under that assumption.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the website changes. But security experts suspect that the increasing attention the company is getting from malware authors did play a role in its decision to remove references to Windows.

“Apple does not want to lose its image as a secure platform,” Andrew Plato, president of Anitian Enterprise Security, said in an interview. “A lot of people still see their Mac as fundamentally more secure than Windows. Flashback proved that Macs are just as vulnerable.”

Macs get more attention from attackers

As more iOS devices make their way into businesses through the bring-your-own-device phenomenon, Mac adoption in businesses is also rising, creating a more inviting target for attackers, according to Andrew Brust, CEO of Microsoft analyst firm Blue Badge Insights.

“Macs can’t keep that low profile anymore, and the bullies are starting to target it, with increasing frequency,” Brust said.

Apple has kept security under the same cloak of secrecy as the rest of its operations, but there are signs that may be changing. Next month, Apple is slated to take part in the Black Hat security conference for the first time. Dallas De Atley, manager of the platform security team, will give a talk there on key security technologies in iOS.

On Monday at the opening of its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple offered insight into the security improvements in OS X Mountain Lion, which is slated for release in July. The big new feature is Gatekeeper, a security mechanism that allows OS X developers to digitally sign their apps, thereby preventing users from accidentally installing malicious software.

Article Source: This article originally appeared at crn.com

Top Ten Free Programs

Top 10 free windows programs

Over the years I have used many programs. During that time, they have served me well so I thought I would share them with you.

In no particular order, here they are:

[ordered_list style=”decimal”]

  1. Avast Free Antivirus – A free antivirus and antispyware security software program for Windows 7, Vista and Windows XP. Download it here.
  2. Advanced System Care – Formerly Advanced WindowsCare Personal, it has a “one-click” approach to help protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. This free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. Download it here.
  3. SyncBack – A freeware program that helps you easily backup and synchronize your files to, the same drive, a different drive or medium (CDRW, Compact Flash, etc), an FTP server, a Network, or a Zip archive. Download it here.
  4. Malwarebytes – A free tool that can identify and remove malicious software from your computer. Download it here.
  5. Paint.NET – Image and photo editing software. Similar to Photoshop but free! Download it here.
  6. Hamachi – A VPN service that is easily set up, and enables secure remote access to your network from anywhere there is an Internet connection. Download it here.
  7. FileZilla – A fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface. Download it here.
  8. OpenOfficeOrg – Leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases. Download it here.
  9. CutePDF – The free version of commercial PDF creation software. CutePDF Writer installs itself as a “printer subsystem”. This enables virtually any Windows application (must be able to print) to create professional quality PDF documents with just a push of a button. Download it here.
  10. Audacity – A free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder. Download it here.

[/ordered_list]