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Superman Tops McAfee’s Toxic Avenger List

Posted by Langley at 10:23 AM on July 15, 2014

evil superman

With San Diego Comic Con quickly approaching, everyone is jumping on board the superhero bandwagon.

Today even McAfee has joined the hype. (The company, not the man, however, we’d love to see a comic book based on John McAfee!)

In a press release, the anti-virus company released its second annual list of superhero searches that lead to bad links, viruses, malware and sites containing malware.

Here’s the list of suspicious superheroes:

McAfee’s Top 10 Most Toxic Superheroes:

 1.       Superman, 16.50%

2.       Thor, 16.35%

3.       Wonder Woman + Aquaman (tie) 15.70%

4.       Wolverine, 15.10%

5.       Spiderman, 14.70%

6.       Batman, 14.20%

7.       Black Widow, 13.85%

8.       Captain America, 13.50%

9.       Green Lantern, 11.25%

10.   Ghost Rider, 10.83%

*% indicates chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses or other malware.

Mobile Malware Rises

Posted by Andrew at 4:01 PM on September 12, 2011

With the rise of smartphones and tablets, it’s not exactly unsurprisingly that they’ve increasingly become a target for cyber criminals and other unscrupulous individuals. In the first half of this year, malware for portable devices increased by 273% compared with 2010.

Cross-platform Trojans are the main source of the growth and most of these viruses are designed to enable spamming or other criminal activities. “With mobile malware, cyber criminals have discovered a new business model,” explains Eddy Willems, Security Evangelist at G Data. “At the moment, the perpetrators mainly use backdoors, spy programs and expensive SMS services to harm their victims. Even though this special underground market segment is still being set up, we currently see an enormous risk potential for mobile devices and their users. We are therefore expecting another spurt of growth in the mobile malware sector in the second half of the year.

If you think that it’s just hyperbole, think again. Zsone, an Android app in the Google Android Market sent subscriptions to Chinese premium SMS numbers and then intercepted the confirmations. The only way the user knew they’d been scammed was when the bill came in.

PC malware is on the rise too with a nearly 16% rise in the last six months. The graph below shows the rise of new malware each year since 2006 and if the growth continues, there will be more new malware in 2011 than 2006-09 combined.

It’s a bad world out there, so be careful no matter what platform you are on. Just because it’s a phone and not a PC, it doesn’t make you invulnerable.

Malware Myths

Posted by Andrew at 12:35 AM on August 3, 2011

GData has found that many people’s preconceptions about malware are wrong and are putting them at risk of malware infection. The vectors for viruses and trojans have significantly changed in the past couple of years and infections now mainly come from websites rather than emails and USB sticks. The growth of malware in the past five years has been phenomenal and since 2005, over 2 million malware threats have been identified.

GData surveyed nearly 16,000 web users in 11 countries regarding their views on internet threats. People are generally more knowledgeable now, with only 4% admitting to having no antivirus software on their computer, although 5% didn’t know. 48% of those questioned have free AV software and 41% have paid software. The survey is not entirely clear if it was Windows PCs only or any computer, including OS X and Linux.

GData identified 11 malware myths that can lead to a higher risk of infection. Here they are.

Myth 1: When my PC is infected, I will notice in one way or another (93%)
No, modern malware writers are smart and code their viruses and trojans to make sure that they work stealthily and unnoticed in the background.

Myth 2: Free AV software offers the same elements of security as paid for packages (83%)
Anyone who has bothered to compare the feature sets of free v. paid versions of security software from nearly any company will know that this isn’t true. Usually the free ones are missing features such as firewalls or anti-spam filters.

Myth 3: Most malware is spread through e-mail (54%)
As mail spam and antivirus filters have got better, malware in attachments has become rarer as it has become less effective. Consequently most spam / malware emails now only come with links to infected websites rather than payloads.

Myth 4: You can’t get infected just by loading an infected website (48%)
Sadly not true. Websites loaded with malware that take advantage of vulnerabilities in the browser and operating system can infect a PC even when the user is “just looking”.

Myth 5: Most malware is spread through downloads at peer2peer and torrent sites (48%)
Undoubtedly some malware is passed on via peer-to-peer but today websites are the prime source of infection.

Myth 6: It is more likely to encounter malware at a porn site that at a horseback riding site (37%)
Much as we might like this myth to be true, serious adult sites are professional and run to a high standard. The web site is key to their business and they make sure the sites are secured and up-to-date with patches. On the other hand, hobby websites are run by enthusiasts who are rarely IT experts and these websites are easily compromised by criminals who then upload malicious code to the site which subsequently infects visitors.

Myth 7: My firewall can protect my PC from drive-by-download attacks (26%)
Sadly, not true. Firewalls are a useful security component but because much malware is web-based and web traffic is generally allowed (because you couldn’t access websites if you didn’t), firewalls provide only limited protection against them.

Myth 8: I don’t visit risky sites, so I am safe from drive-by-downloads (13%)
This is much the same as Myth 6, but the point to take is that your trust in the website brand does not have a direct correlation to the likelihood of being infected. In the recent past, a couple of high-profile trusted sites have become vectors for malware without the owner’s knowledge.

Myth 9: If you don’t open an infected file, you can’t get infected (22%)
The emphasis in this myth is on the “you”. In a perfect world this might be true, but modern PCs and operating systems are so complex and do so much in the background that it’s possible for a malicious file to infect a PC regardless of what the user actually does.

Myth 10: Most malware is spread through USB sticks (13%)
In the past a large proportion of viruses and trojans would have been passed on using USB memory sticks and while they can still be a vector (Conficker!), now more malware is spread by websites.

Myth 11: Cyber criminals aren’t interested in the PC’s of consumers (8%)
As most people recognised, consumer PCs are definitely of interest to consumers, either to form part of a botnet or else to monitor for passwords for on-line services.

There is a natural assumption amongst Internet users that pornography sites are more dangerous than other leisure sites. This is a myth. Amateur hobby/leisure sites are often not professionally run like many pornography sites, making them much easier prey for hackers,” says Eddy Willems, G Data Security Evangelist. “In the past, malware was written by developers who wanted to show off their technical skills, meaning it was visible to infected users. Now cyber criminals design, sell and make use of malware that enables them to take control of PCs’ computing powers in such a way that users do not notice the infection. This covert approach not only puts users’ data at risk, but also allows cyber criminals to send spam e-mails and malware, and participate in DDoS attacks. Internet users must correct their misconceptions in order to stay safe online.

You can download the full report (.pdf) if you want more information on the survey itself and the myths.

So stay sharp out there. The bad guys are out to get you.

G Data Tackles Malware on Websites

Posted by Andrew at 5:00 PM on March 7, 2011

G Data’s been busy. After releasing their malware protection for Android, they’ve also extended their safety net into the internet. G Data‘s CloudSecurity is a free browser plug-in designed to block phishing sites and protect against websites pushing malware. The plug-in can be used with Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer and it’s available as a free download from free-cloudsecurity.com.

CloudSecurity blocks dangerous websites before they can cause harm to your PC or steal your data. And the more people who use CloudSecurity, the better it gets. Users can report suspicious websites via the plug-in back to G Data, whose experts then check over the websites to see if they are dangerous or not. If they are, they get added to the black list.

If you are currently availing of some of the free AV solutions out, then this sounds like a useful complementary (and complimentary) product.

(This type of product seems to be flavour of the month as Todd also mentioned a similar product in GNC #652 last week – Web of Trust.)

G Data Offers Malware and Virus Protection for Android

Posted by Andrew at 4:27 PM on March 1, 2011

The Android OS has already attracted the attention of malware and virus writers looking for new ways to extort money from unsuspecting victims. The BBC reported back in August of 2010 on a Russian media player that sent premium rate text messages, thus earning the virus writer hefty referral fees. More recently, the Geinimi trojan had been collecting personal info and passing it on to some Chinese remote servers.

G Data Software today announced their MobileSecurity solution for Android 2.0 and above to guard against malware and other fraudulent programs. By monitoring activity on the phone or tablet, it can detect unwanted sending of SMS text messages or web browsing in the background.

Using the security app on the smartphone, the user can authorise the activity of known apps but block those apps which start acting in an unexpected fashion. The security app will also maintain a blacklist of Android malware which is regularly updated with downloads from G Data.

Available from April 2011 for £9.99 from the Google Market Place or free to existing G Data customers from G Data’s website.

Sophos Security Threat Report 2011

Posted by Andrew at 7:50 AM on January 19, 2011

Digital security firm Sophos today released their Security Threat Report for 2011, which reviews all the ways that the bad guys are out to get you. It’s a glossy 52 page report and is worth a quick read to understand the threats that are out there, especially in areas that you might not be familiar with.

The report covers the key threats from 2010:

  • Fake anti-virus software and scareware – through a warning dialog, users are scared into paying for and installing fake anti-virus software, which at best does nothing and at worst steals passwords and credit card information.
  • SEO poisoning – manipulating search engine results to point users to fake and rogue websites, which are loaded with browser exploits and malware.
  • Clickjacking or UI redressing – hiding malicious buttons underneath innocuous images, e.g. clicking on a “Like” or “Share” image actually emails out malware to all the users friends.
  • Survey scam – in order to complete a questionnaire that typically offers a non-existent but  sought-after prize, software has to be installed or access given to personal data. This information is then used to propagate the questionnaire onwards, earning affiliate revenue for the application developer.
  • Spam – not exactly a new entrant in 2010 but the rise of spam on social networking sites is an increasing problem.
  • Spearphishing – a variant on the original phishing but in this case the attack is well targetted and much more convincing and consequently more likely to succeed.
  • Stuxnet worm – a traditional vector but with a new target, the Stuxnet worm went after SCADA systems and industrial PLC controllers. Very sophisticated, leading to conspiracy theories involving industrial sabotage.
  • Malvertising – the infection of advertising on legitimate websites that links to malware or fake anti-virus software.
  • Compromised sites and accounts – Legitimate websites and typically celebrate accounts are hacked to serve infected webpages or link to malware sites.

The report briefly covers the threats posed to iOS, Android, Windows 7 and Blackberry smartphones before moving onto to review issues with Facebook, Adobe products, removeable media and USB drives. Windows 7 and OS X are also discussed.

The report continues with some of the success stories when the justice system has managed to catch up with the criminals before closing with advice and guidance on how to avoid getting hit.

Give it a read. Warning – 4MB .pdf download.

Google Family Safety Centre

Posted by Andrew at 1:00 AM on October 13, 2010

Google FamilyGoogle has setup the Family Safety Centre to help parents and teachers keep their children safe online.  After spending a little time in the resource, it seems to be a good introduction to online safety for children from a parent’s point of view.  If you need to know more, you can then take it further through some of the links.

The Centre has four main sections:

i) Google Safety Tools – information on Safesearch, which stops inappropriate material being returned in searches, and YouTube Safety Mode, which similarly stops age-restricted videos from appearing.

ii) Advice from partners – information from children’s organisations on cyberbullying, privacy, talking to strangers online, adult content and malware.

iii) Reporting abuse – if you find inappropriate material on any of Google’s properties (YouTube, Buzz, Picasa, Blogger), here’s how to flag the material to Google.

iv) Video tips from Google parents – a set of videos on YouTube from parents to parents.  In this section there’s also six basic tips for on-line safety.  Frankly, I think these tips should be more prominent as they’re good.
- Keep computers in a central place
- Know where your children go online
- Teach internet safety
- Help prevent viruses
- Teach your children to communicate responsibly
- View all content critically

Each country has its own slight variant, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, US and UK versions – there are probably others for non-English speakers. The main difference seems to be the list of partner organisations that Google has worked with (and spelling).

If you are a parent, you should spend a few minutes having a read of the information here.

Attention: Malware On Your Computer?

Posted by fogview at 11:55 PM on December 20, 2009

“Security center has detected malware on your computer.” Have you ever seen that message pop up on your computer? Have you ever seen it happen over Skype? Well, I’ve received that message three times in the last month as a Skype message. It tells me that my Windows software is infected and I need to install a patch. It even gave me a website (link) to go to to help me install the patch.

Skype Malware Message

I may have fallen for the trick but I don’t know how a Windows patch would fix my iMac running OSX. I don’t run Bootcamp, or Windows in a virtual machine, nor does my iMac know what an .EXE or ActiveX file is. I’m sure if I clicked on this link and installed the patch on my Windows machine, my machine WOULD have been infected with malware! (For now Mac machines may be safer from malware infections but it’s wise to still be careful.)

I’ve written before about being safe on the Internet and not going to sites you don’t know or clicking on links in emails, but this is the first I heard of a message over Skype. If you look at the message box (on my iMac), it doesn’t even say it’s from Skype and the window title says. “Software Updates.”

What concerns me is that many people may fall for this trick. I know most readers of GNC and listener’s to Todd’s podcast are tech savvy enough that they wouldn’t fall for something like this, but what about mom (or dad) or your grand parents who get a web cam for Christmas and install Skype so they can talk to the grand kids? Would they click on this link and install the “patch” if this message box appeared?

Google is trying to find sites that install spyware and root-kit software on your computer, but you can’t depend on this for every “bad” website. Recently there was a SQL-injection virus that infected a large number of websites. The virus takes advantage of PCs running Windows that have not been patched with the latest updates. You don’t have to click on any links to get infected — just visit a site taken over by this malware software. It does this by linking to the site 318x dot com (please don’t go to this site). If you search for 318x dot com using google, the first search listing says “This site may harm your computer.” That because this site has been around for a while and has given enough time for Google’s security bots to find the site and determine that it’s up to no good. Here is the link for the Google Safe Browsing page for the 318X site: http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=318x.com/

Now back to my Skype message. I mentioned that this is the third time I’ve received this message in the past month. Each time I did a Whois search of the linked website and found that the website was created within one day of when I received the message. The website mentioned in the most recent warning message was created the same day I received the message. This tells me that the author of this warning message is changing the website URL to keep it from being flagged by Google and the security monitoring sites. If you do a Google search for this site it comes up clean. Oh, did I mention that the owner of this site (and the previous two sites) is from Prague, Czech Republic (outside US laws)?

As you visit relatives and friends over the holidays make sure everyone knows about safe surfing on the Internet. Don’t click on links in emails (or Skype message boxes) and make sure to keep your computer’s OS patched and up to date.

Happy Holidays.

73′s, Tom