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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:

[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • 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.

[/unordered_list]

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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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

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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

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What Antivirus software do we recommend?

BX_N360_Y14_r_r_EN_342[1]Up until the last few months or so, I was of the opinion that AVG Free was as good as any Antivirus software, on the proviso that you didn’t do stupid things online like visiting porn websites, clicking on links in emails that were obvious phishing scams and making sure you kept Windows up to date along with Java, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader.

Well all that still stands, but I have found there is an increasing number of really nasty viruses out there that are just getting past the AVG product, and as such, I have now changed my thinking and moved to the Norton 360 product by Symantec, and now recommend this as my preferred Security solution.

I had an experience recently that taught me a valuable lesson.  Being in the industry that I am in, I should have known better, but like all of us I got complacent.

I used a USB Flash Drive with some Virus Removal tools on an infected PC.  It had a nasty Rootkit among other things, and it transferred the virus to my USB Drive.  When I got back to the office I wanted to retrieve a log report off the drive and plugged it into my PC which was protected by AVG.  Well it turns out it wasn’t very well protected at all because the virus was instantly transferred to my PC without so much as a peep out of AVG or indeed any other sign.

The first I knew about it was when I started receiving 100’s of returned emails with the usual spam topics and a phone call from my web host telling me they had disabled my email accounts.  What followed was a time consuming effort to remove the virus and it was at this time I changed my recommendation from AVG to Norton 360.

Traditionally I haven’t been a fan of Security Suites, and I’m still not, but 360 is minimal in it’s intrusiveness and uses fewer system resources than some of the others, and more importantly it detects those nasty viruses that AVG didn’t and still doesn’t.

FYI we sell Norton 360 for $99.  This will cover 3 PC’s for 12 mths.

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How Can You Find Out If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer?

Computer-Hacker

 

Here is an interesting article about what signs to look for to determine whether you may be infected with viruses/malware that allow a hacker to take control of your PC. 

 

 

 

How Can You Find Out If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer?

by Gaurav Srivastava

Many of you become innocent victims of hackers who break in your computers and steal all they can from the credit card details, bank information, emails, passwords, to professional documents among other critical things. You cannot really avoid hackers, their viruses and malware software when you are online but yes you can certainly avoid being a victim. This free virus removal support guide discusses how you can find out if someone is hacking your computer.

Step 1

When you reboot your computer, it reboots twice instead of once. It happens because the hacker has to boot his server in order to keep accessing your Windows or Mac computer. Thus, your computer quickly reboots after you reboot it and the startup screen appears twice. Another symptom of being hacked or virus-infected is when your computer reboots or shuts down on its own time and again. It means it doesn’t seek for your mouse or keyboard prompts to be shut down or restarted. When you attempt to access a program on your computer, you are not able to do it. You cannot access Task Manager, the Start menu or anything on your computer.

Step 2

When you open your web browser, some other website loads up but not your regular home page. When you search for something in your search engine, you are being redirected to websites that you have never browsed or even heard of. These can be adult or malicious websites prompting you to download adult materials or fake virus removal tools. If your web browser has a new toolbar, add-in, or plug-in that you did not install, it indicates that your browser and computer has been hacked. You do not see your usually plug-ins, add-ins, or toolbars when the browser is hacked. Besides, if your internet speed is really slow, it indicates your computer has a virus.

Step 3

If your CD- or DVD-ROM drive opens up without your action. Your computer has missing icons like Network Places, antivirus, or Outlook etc. However, you see new programs like virus removal tool (that you didn’t even download), music file etc. showing up on your desktop. If you see that your computer clock shows a different date & time, time zone settings, and daylight savings etc. (unless you have changed them), it has a stubborn, dangerous malware.

Step 4

If you have a firewall program like ZoneAlarm installed on your computer, it can tell you if someone has tried hacking it. Open ZoneAlarm or the firewall program you have and check if it has logged any malicious program entry that was attempting a server setup on your computer. If your firewall or antivirus program takes forever to scan your computer, it indicates that it has been compromised. If your antivirus icon is missing from your computer and it does not even open once you have found it, it has a virus that has disabled it to prevent itself from being removed.

Step 5

If you run a virus scan from your antivirus software, it shows multiple infected files and programs that you never even downloaded to your computer. All of a sudden you have multiple files with weird names like mslove.exe, abcd1234.exe, or giaehi45.jpg etc. in your computer. all of a sudden your computer starts taking forever to open a small program like Run or Command Prompt etc. The CPU usage shows 100% (maximum) for a small process like explorer.exe.

Step 6

When your friends tell you about the new links or posts you have shared (that you have never actually shared) on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter profile. When your friends or relatives receive bogus emails containing adult or objectionable materials, link etc. from your email address. When your credit card or online banking does not accept your password despite that you have it correctly and have not changed it in the recent past.

The Author of this article is associated with V tech-squad Inc, V tech-squad Inc. is a cloud based technical support provider to consumers and small businesses. if you have any problem while performing the above steps and need technical assistance for online virus removal, You can reach V tech-squad online technical support at their Toll Free No +1-877-452-9201.

About V tech-squad Inc.

V tech-squad Inc. is a cloud based online technical support provider to consumers and small businesses. V tech-squad provides support to users for issues with their PCs, Mac’s, Tablets, Phones such as iPhone and Blackberry and devices such as MP3 players, Printers, Scanners, Fax, Wireless networking gear, Netflix, Roku boxes and TVs. With an obsessive focus on quality and building technical expertise, V tech-squad continues to maintain an issue resolution rate of more than 90%. V tech-squad’s credibility has been tested by more than 10,000 customers. Currently V tech-squad provides support services to consumers and small businesses in United States. For more information on V tech-squad, Inc. visit vtechsquad.com.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com