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In the News 4-13-11

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 by | Filed Under: In The News, Security Help

Hey Harry, want to go phishing?

If so, check this out:

Are you one of the lucky computer-using people that – in a split second of an overdue update – got hacked and lost all of the money that you had in the bank? Well, you too can become a hacker and pick up some extra bucks. And, unfortunately, it isn’t even that hard. With just a little technical experience, a person can go online and find the necessary kits for hacking personal computers for fun and profit. Do you want to steal some sensitive government documents? There are kits for that, too.

Symantec, a top computer security company, released a report this week, stating that attacks played a role in creating over 286 million varieties of malware last year, and HP, one of the leading computer hardware manufacturers, reports that because the kits are so easy to use and are so successful, they are extremely popular.

In addition, the quality of the online kits is getting better. “Attack kit developers are also improving the quality of their software”, says Mike Dausin, who manages advanced security intelligence for HP’s DVLabs division. “They put so much effort into streamlining it, just as a normal software development company might,” he says. “They’re very professional, very focused on making money.” It’s not an entirely unexpected development: last year, security researchers predicted the growth of the cybercrime service industry.

The latest versions of attack kits are traded online for anything from $500 to $4000 and sales have grown from two to seven percent of the criminal online economy.

“This booming business has helped attack kits spread far further than before”, explains Alen Puzic, a security researcher at HP DVLabs. “A few years ago you pretty much had to know the author of one of these toolkits in order to get one, but these days there are resellers, forums and even online stores.”

The software can help the attackers create their own form of malware and target certain victims with it, such as bank account and credit card theft. For instance, let’s say a bank site is hacked. The malware is going to be modified on your computer, not the bank’s servers. You look at the URL, you go to the URL and everything seems legitimate. But it’s not.

Now that spammers know the e-mail addresses that are linked to certain brands, they use kits to trick people into giving away more information than they should. An attack like this is known as “spear phishing”, because the leaked details help attackers to focus their effort (“sharpening their spears”).

If you don’t want to buy a kit, you are probably more interested in protecting your computer from one. Here are the main two things:

1: Keep all of your patches up to date. A patch is a piece of code inserted – or patched – into an executable file, such as AVS.exe. It is there to fix a program bug. If your patches are old, it’s easier for an attacker to get in to your system; their kits probably aren’t new enough to penetrate a new patch. At least you hope not. However, when downloading or installing patches, you must be careful to ensure that they are, in fact, patches that are actually needed on your computer. If a pop-up tells you that an update or patch needs to be installed, it’s often best to go to the source and verify the truth of that assertion. For example, if you get a message that your security software needs to be updated, it might be best to open the program and check for updates there.

2: Don’t click on a link unless you are 100 percent sure you know who it is! I can’t stress this enough; I can’t tell you how important this is! Just an FYI: I don’t click on any links e-mail-wise anymore. Seriously. All of the new types of malware look so authentic; it’s just not worth it. If the link looks real, then I’ll go to the site that sent the e-mail and check out the sale or whatever it is that they sent me. Although I guess I am going to have to watch out for that too, thanks to these handy-dandy kits.

Enough already. I can’t click anymore, I have to “patch” things when I don’t even know what program needs oneā€¦it’s just so old.

I think I’ll be playing a lot more Solitaire offline in the future than I thought. Hah! And I thought my days were ho-hum now.

Have a great week!

~Lori Cline


6 Responses to “In the News 4-13-11”

  1. Jaonne Hamilton says:

    This was so timely. Our home computer was invaded. An email was sent out to most of our email addresses but no one in our house sent it……. Interesting fact was that our email address was in the list but we did not get the email…. We had just updated our Norton the day before! Now what to do?

  2. I wouldn’t even begin to do without Worldstart and all of knowledge that the Team imparts to me on a day to day basis. Thank you for this Phising article, it certainly drives home the need for security and remaining up to date.



  4. katey n steve says:

    Thanks so much! Our bank was hacked so we’re being extra cautious. thanks for the timely article.

  5. K.Vee.Shanker. says:

    Hi All,
    I had also been a victim of e-mail a/c cracking. I solved the problem by changing my password through my office computer. You can go your aervice provider site, use the link provided, and change your password. But, this should be done **only from a safe computer and not from your usual computer**, which might already be having the virus. Secondly, avoid using the internet cafes/ free wi-fi service in airpots/railway stations etc., to check even your mail-account. It is sucidal if you use them for any financial transaction.
    Apart from having an antivirus siute installed and updated regularly in your computer, you can also use the free online scans from reputed anti-virus kit suppliers. I found my computer to have been infected during one such a scan, despite scanning my computer with anti-virus & anti-malware programs every week.

  6. […] Smishing Home -> In The News -> From Phishing to SmishingThe latest scary new malware scam. Last week I talked about a (relatively) new form of malware: the purchase of online hacking kits that even a […]

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