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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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Are Hackers Using Your Webcam to Watch You?

webcam-hacking

 

 

Here is an interesting article about how a hacker can take control of your PC or Laptop web-cam. 

 

 

By Kim Boatman

Steven Fox, an IT security expert, was chatting with friends on his webcam one night when he started receiving some strange emails. Imagine his surprise when he opened one and found images of himself chatting.

His webcam had been hacked by a “script kiddie,” a person who uses malware written by someone else to show off their skills at accessing other computer systems, says Fox. He quickly detached the webcam, but he had to reinstall his operating system after he found malware installed on his computer. “It was painful, but it was a learning experience,” says Fox, who writes a column for the journal of the Information Systems Security Association.

The Risks of Web-cams
Webcams may let you stay in touch with friends and family, but they also pose risks of people hacking into them and spying on you. A Pennsylvania lawsuit accused a school district of using webcams on school-issued laptops to spy on students and their families. And in 2009 in China, a sophisticated network of hackers known as GhostNet cracked 1,295 webcams in 103 countries.

Since most laptops now come with a built-in webcam, it’s critical to understand the risks, says Richard Stiennon, a malware expert with IT-Harvest, a research firm that specializes in Internet security. “We all have to become aware that our every action could be watched,” says Stiennon.

How Hackers Attack Web-cams
Most hackers utilize so-called Trojan horse attacks, says Stiennon. You click on an attachment or download a piece of music or video infected with malware, and a hacker is able to remotely control your PC’s functions.

Fortunately, you can take steps to secure your webcam. Experts offer these do’s and dont’s:

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  • Don’t click on suspicious attachments. You’ve heard it before, but too often we click without thinking. Email attachments remain a prime source for malware. Be wary of those supposedly funny emails forwarded by friends and family. You should also avoid suspicious sites offering free downloads of music, TV shows or videos.
  • Do use a firewall. “Firewalls provide a measure of protection against unwanted traffic,” explains Fox. Your computer comes with a firewall, but you need to make sure it’s turned on. If you use a Windows operating system, click on the Windows symbol in the lower-left corner of your screen, search for Windows Firewall, and you’ll be able to check the firewall settings. If you use a Mac OS, open System Preferences, click on the Sharing icon, select the Firewall tab and click Start.
  • Do use strong antivirus software. Install a security suite that offers malware and spyware protection, then make sure you keep the protection up-to-date.
  • Don’t keep PCs with web-cams in bedrooms. Limit webcam use to high-traffic areas, and remind family members not to do anything in front of a webcam they wouldn’t want the world to see.
  • Do secure your wireless connection. Make sure your wireless connection is protected with a unique password (not the default one that came with the router).
  • Don’t talk to strangers. Avoid IM conversations with people you don’t know, and advise your kids to do the same.
  • Do be cautious about accepting tech help. Would-be hackers have been known to ingratiate themselves with acquaintances by offering computer help. But that gives them the chance to rig web-cams so they can spy on the computer user.
  • Do look for the indicator light. On external web-cams, you’ll usually see a red light indicating the camera is on. Laptops with internal webcams usually have an LED indicator too. If you use an external webcam, simply detach it from the USB port when it’s not in use.

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In the end, your best bet is to use a decidedly low-tech solution, say the experts. “The ultimate security control is to cover the lens,’’ says Fox. If your webcam doesn’t come with a lens cover, use an adhesive bandage or even a yellow sticky note to cover it up. (Just make sure nothing sticky is touching the lens itself, so you don’t damage it.) “It sounds silly, but it gives you positive feedback that no one is spying on you,” says Stiennon.

Kim Boatman is a Silicon Valley, Calif., journalist who writes about security and technology. She spent more than 15 years writing about a variety of topics for the San Jose Mercury News.

Article Source: yoursecurityresource.com

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Tips For Avoiding Social Networking Disasters

If you are a business owner thinking about engaging in social networking as a tool for your business, take the time to read the following article from the North American Press Syndicate. 

Tips For Avoiding Social Networking Disasters

North American Press Syndicate

“Small businesses need effective, low-cost marketing strategies, and tools like Facebook and Twitter deliver megahits for microbudgets. Yet while many business owners are being advised to engage customers via social media, not all are informed of the risks.

Social network sites are fertile waters for Internet pirates who troll for unsuspecting victims, hoping to steal data by planting malware in the form of computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spyware.

If you are a small-business owner, work for one or hope to become one, these tips can help keep your business data secure:”

 

Avoid Social Networking Disasters