Posts Tagged: ‘Malware’

Scam of the day – July 25, 2014 – Important security updates for Java and other software

July 24, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Constant updating of the software we all use with the latest security patches and updates is a critical part of avoiding scams and identity theft threats.  Whenever new security updates and patches are issued, we provide access to these so that you can update your software to provide better security on your computers, smartphones, laptops and other electronic devices.  Updating your software with the latest security patches and updates as soon as possible is important because identity thieves and scammers are always identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in the software that we all use.  Delay in updating your software could lead to disastrous results.  However, it is also important to be sure that you are downloading legitimate patches and updates rather than being tricked by an identity thief or scammer into downloading malware under the guise of downloading a security patch or update.  That is why we provide links to the necessary patches and updates as provided by the Department of Homeland Security and the companies directly.  Today’s updates provide critical security updates for a number of important software programs which we all use which if not used will put you in serious jeopardy of identity theft and being hacked.  In particular, this round of security updates provides important security updates for Java software.  Java has been a favorite target of scammers and identity thieves so much that the Department of Homeland Security has even advised people who don’t have to use Java, to disable it.  For more information about Java software I suggest you check out earlier Scams of the day that dealt with Java problems.  You can find these in the Scamicide archives.

TIPS

Here is a link to the latest security alert and updates as issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/bulletins/SB14-202

Scam of the day – July 24, 2014 – StubHub hacking – what it means to you

July 24, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Six people including both Russian and American citizens were indicted yesterday in New York for hacking into 1,600 StubHub accounts and stealing more than 1.6 million dollars in tickets.  StubHub is a website where people can buy and sell sports and entertainment tickets.  Although the accounts hacked were StubHub accounts, it appears the fault was not that of StubHub, but rather of individual StubHub customers whose passwords and user names were obtained through hacking of other companies or through the use of keystroke logging malware programs unwittingly downloaded, most likely through phishing emails to the victimized consumers.

TIPS

For those people who used the same user name and password for all of their accounts, this hacking is another example of why you should not do so.  Using the same user name and password puts you in danger in all of your online accounts if merely one of your online accounts is hacked.  The better course of action is to use a different user name and password for every account that you use.  Although this may seem like a complicated thing to do, it need not be so.  Just adding a couple of letters describing the account to your password can provide you with much added security.  So for example if you used the basic, safe password of “IHatePasswords123!” which is a strong password and then added a few letters to describe the particular account such as a StubHub password of “IHatePasswords123!StubHb” you would have a difficult to break, but easy to remember password. As for protecting yourself from downloading keystroke logging malware by which you unknowingly download malware that provides access to all of the personal information on your computer the key thing to remember is to never click on a link or download an attachment unless you are absolutely positive that it is legitimate and you have independently confirmed its legitimacy.  Also, you should maintain your anti-malware and anti-virus software up to date with the latest security patches.

Scam of the day – July 22, 2014 – Malaysian Airliner Flight MH 17 scams

July 22, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

With the world’s attention focused on the recent  shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 over the Ukraine, it was inevitable that identity thieves and scammers would soon be exploiting this event toward their own criminal goals and that is just what is already happening.  There are a variety of scams that have sprung up that are using the shooting down of the airplane as a hook to scam members of the public.  One scam involves phony charities that are asking for donations for the benefit of the victims of the missile attack only to steal all of the donations.  Another scam involves emails, text messages or communications on social media, such as Facebook that promise startling video of the event.  One message reads “Video Camera Caught the moment plane MH17 Crash over Ukraine.  Watch here the video of Crash.”  If your curiosity gets the better of you and you click on the link to view the video, you may unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of your personal information from your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

You should never give to a charity until you  have confirmed that it is legitimate.  Go to www.charitynavigator.org where you can not only find out whether or not the charity is legitimate, but also how much of your donation goes toward charitable purposes and how much goes to administrative costs and salaries.

As I always warn you, you should never click on any link in any email, text message, social media or other communication unless you are absolutely sure that it is legitimate.  In this case, the particular language that I reported above that is used to lure people to download malware is written in broken English and could be an indication that the source is a foreign scammer or identity thief.  If you must search for such video, stay with legitimate new sources such as CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or other sources that can be trusted.

Scam of the day – July 20, 2014 – Cisco corrects router vulnerability

July 20, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Everyone is aware of our vulnerability to having our computers hacked through unwittingly downloading malware that often comes as an attachment to or a link in a phishing email that appears to be legitimate, but whose sole purpose is to lure us into downloading the malware that can steal the information from our computer and make us victims of identity theft.  However, few people are aware that hackers and identity thieves are now targeting the computers of individuals and businesses through their routers.   Cisco, one of the makers of home wireless routers has issued a security patch to remedy this problem.  As always, when security updates and patches are released, it is very important to make sure that you download and install the patches as soon as possible.

TIPS

Here is the link to the Cisco security patch as provided by the Department of Homeland Security: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2014/07/16/Cisco-Addresses-Wireless-Residential-Gateway-Vulnerability

It is important to note that other routers are also vulnerable to hackers so if you have one that is not made by Cisco, you should contact the maker of your router to learn what you can do to make its use safer.

Scam of the day – July 16, 2014 – E-Z Pass Email scam

July 16, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

The E-Z Pass transponder system is available to drivers in fourteen states and enables the drivers to avoid stopping to pay tolls when driving on toll roads.  Instead they merely drive through a special lane where their transponder is electronically read.  The tolls are then charged to a credit card on file with E-Z Pass.  It is a very efficient system that works well.  It also works well for scammers who recently have been sending phishing emails to residents of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and even Canada where they system is also used.  The emails appear official looking.  It carries the logo of E-Z Pass.  The message is short.  It reads: “Dear customer, You have not paid for driving on a toll road. This invoice is sent repeatedly, please service your debt in the shortest possible time.”  The stilted language is a good indication that this scam may have originated in a country where English is not the primary language.  The email goes on to indicate “The invoice can be downloaded here” and it provides a link for you to supposedly access your bill.  DON’T CLICK ON THE LINK.  In some versions of the scam, if you click on the link, you will be prompted to provide information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  In other versions of the scam, merely clicking on the link will download malware on to your computer that will steal all of your personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Never click on links or download attachments in emails or text messages regardless of how official they may appear.  You can never be sure as to whether it is legitimate or not.  Your best course of action is, if you have any inclination that it may be legitimate, to contact the real company or agency and inquire as to the legitimacy of the contact.  In this particular case, E-Z Pass does not communicate regarding bills by emails so you can be confident if you do get such an email it is a scam.  As always, you should also make sure that your anti-malware and anti-virus software is kept up to date, but don’t rely on that to keep you safe because the best anti-malware and anti-virus programs are always at least thirty days behind the latest malware and viruses.

Scam of the day – July 15, 2014 – Mailbox identity theft danger

July 15, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Identity theft can be high tech, low tech or no tech and although much attention is often focused on computer phishing schemes, malware and other high tech methods of turning you into a victim of identity theft, low tech and no tech methods of identity theft can be equally as effective in stealing your identity.  One low tech method that has been around for a long time, but seems to be making a resurgence is when identity thieves put strong glue like the kind used on mouse trap paper is put on the inside of the swing-down chute in the mailboxes you find scattered throughout your city.  This glue traps mail on the chute rather than letting it go down into the mailbox when the lid is closed making it easy pickings for an identity thief who can be looking for checks you may be mailing to a business or a credit card payment.  Your check can either be altered through a process called “washing” so that the check is made to appear to be payable to the identity thief.   The identity thieves can also take the information from your check and make counterfeit checks in order to access your checking account.   They may also steal the information from your credit card statement to gain access to your credit card.

Another similar type of scam involves the identity thief putting the glue on a small object at the end of a string and lowering the string into the mailbox to go fishing for mail with checks, credit card statements or other information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Although it seems like you should be able to trust the U.S. mail, you would be prudent to mail payments and letters with financial information directly from the post office rather than use vulnerable mailboxes.  You also should consider making your payments electronically which is even safer.  When you do use checks, you should use a type of pen called a gel pen which you can purchase at any office supply store.  The ink from these pens is almost impossible to wash off of a check by a counterfeiter.  Finally, do not put mail with personal information or checks in your own personal mailbox at your home.  Often people do this and raise the red flag on the mail box to inform the letter carrier  that there is outgoing mail to be picked up from your box.  Unfortunately, it also informs an identity thief cruising your neighborhood that there are “goodies” in your mailbox.

 

Scam of the day – July 7, 2014 – Latest Apple and Cisco security updates

July 7, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Constant updating of the software we all use with the latest security patches and updates is a critical part of avoiding scams and identity theft threats.  Whenever new security updates and patches are issued, we provide access to these so that you can update your software to provide better security on your computers, smartphones, laptops and other electronic devices.  Updating your software with the latest security patches and updates as soon as possible is important because identity thieves and scammers are always finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in the software that we all use.  Delay in updating your software could lead to disastrous results.  However, it is also important to be sure that you are downloading legitimate patches and updates rather than being tricked by an identity thief or scammer into downloading malware under the guise of downloading a security patch or update.  That is why we provide links to the necessary patches and updates as provided by the Department of Homeland Security and the companies directly.  Today’s updates provide critical security updates for a number of important software programs which we all use which if not used will put you in serious jeopardy of identity theft and being hacked.

TIPS

Here is the link to the latest security updates as issued by the Department of Homeland Security:

https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2014/07/02/Cisco-Releases-Security-Advisory-Unified-Communications-Domain

https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2014/07/01/Apple-Releases-Security-Updates-OS-X-Safari-iOS-devices-and-Apple

Scam of the day – July 6, 2014 – Another AOL phishing scam

July 6, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Millions of people still use AOL and so scammers and identity thieves often send out phishing emails that appear to come from AOL, such as the one reproduced below.  The logo and format of this particular email that is presently circulating is quite poor.  Compare it to the excellent counterfeit phishing email I included in the Scam of the Day for Mary 31, 2014.  This one comes from an email address that has no relation to the company, AOL.  It does not contain any logo and it is not directed to the recipient specifically by name.  Like many similar scams, this one works by luring you into clicking on a link in the email in order to resolve an problem.  However, if you click on the link, one of two things will happen.  You either will be prompted to provide information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft or by clicking on the link you will unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.   Here is how the email appears.  DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK:

“Dear User,

Verify, to update your Premium Acc today

Service Team.

America Online”

TIPS

There are numerous reasons not to trust this email.  The email address from which it was sent has no relation to AOL.  It is not addressed to you personally.  It does not contain an AOL logo and the email is far too short and curt.  It is an obvious phishing email and its only purpose is to lure you into either providing personal information or downloading malware.  As I have warned you many times, never click on links or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that the email is legitimate.  In this case, if you even had a slight thought that it might be legitimate, all you would have to do is to call the real AOL to learn that this was a phishing scam.

Scam of the day – July 2, 2014 – Russian hackers attack energy companies

July 2, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Cybersecurity security company, Symantec has uncovered a vast hacking of hundreds of oil and gas companies in the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey and Poland.  The hacking appears to be the work of a group of Russian hackers referred to by Symantec as “Dragonfly.”  Although such industrial espionage has been common for the last few years, it has become much more concentrated in the last six months.  According to Symantec, the purpose of the hacking into the computers of these companies is not to destroy oil rigs, power generators or other infrastructure, but rather more to steal information about the operation of the victims’ companies, their technology and their trade secrets.  The manner in which the malware has been implanted by the hackers is particularly interesting as it is indicative of a newer trend in such hackings.  Similar to the hacking of Target, where Target was not hacked directly, but a third party vendor of Target’s with less computer security was hacked and then the access of the third party vendor to Target’s computers was used to infiltrate Target’s computer systems and download malware, so in this case Dragonfly initially hacked into the computer systems of a number of industrial control software developers whose programs were used by the targeted energy companies.  By inserting the malware into the programs of the software developers, the malware was, in turn, passed on to the targeted energy companies when they downloaded the infected software from these vendors with whom they did business.  Another way that malware has been passed on to energy companies in recent years has been through what is called “watering hole attacks” by which the hackers infect a website frequented by the intended target such that when the intended victims visit the infected website, which may be a restaurant from which employees of the targeted company wish to order take-out food, they unwittingly download the malware into their companies’ computers.

TIPS

Corporations around the world have got to to a better job of protecting their computers.  In addition to the risk to these companies of having their information stolen and harming them in the competitive marketplace, the real risk of sabotage exists as well.  Cyberterrorism aimed at crucial infrastructure such as utilities is a very real risk throughout the world.  As for the rest of us, as individuals, we can also fall victim to the same kind of hacking which may be used by hackers primarily interested in identity theft.  The best protection for us as individuals is to make sure that your computer’s anti-malware and anti-virus software is up to date at all times.  If you are particularly prudent, you may wish to restrict your financial information storage and financial transactions to a separate computer in your home so that if you do end up having the latest malware unwittingly installed on a computer that you use for other purposes, you will not run the risk of having your important personal information stolen.

Scam of the day – June 26, 2014 – Hedge funds hacked

June 26, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Hedge funds are aggressively managed investment portfolios that are largely unregulated.   They generally are used by only the wealthiest of people.  They also have become a ripe target for hackers who, according to a recent report by computer security firm BAE System, have been hacking into the computers of these funds and causing financial harm in a multitude of ways.  According to BAE, one unnamed hedge fund lost millions of dollars after hackers managed to infiltrate their computers through simple spear phishing tactics by which the hackers tricked hedge fund employees into clicking on links in infected emails that downloaded malware into the hedge fund’s computers that enabled the hackers to learn about impending trades and then delay the trades while the hackers traded first based upon the stolen information.   Another way that the hedge funds have been attacked is through the ransomware  program Cryptolocker, about which I warned you repeatedly since November of 2013.  Cryptolocker is a type of malware that infects the computer of the unwary victim and encrypts all of the victim’s data making it unusable unless they pay a ransom to the criminal hacker.

TIPS

The financial industry as a whole has not taken sufficient security precautions and steps to protect themselves and our economy from the attacks of scammers, hackers and identity thieves.  Just because you have not heard of many of these hackings as much as with high profile hackings of Target and other companies is very much because quite often the companies do not disclose that they have been hacked.  The hedge fund industry’s sophisticated digital trading systems have become attractive targets to hackers and the hedge fund industry has not taken the necessary security steps to protect the integrity of their business from attack.  Unfortunately, this type of crime is something that is going to get worse before it gets better.  Whenever you are investing your money with a company, you should first inquire as to the security steps taken by the company.