Posts Tagged ‘Network security’

Beware of Scareware

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Attention-Grabbing

Attention-Grabbing

Scareware consists of deceptive advertisements that pop up on websites where criminals have purchased such ads. The pop-up announces that your computer is infected and asks you to click on a box to run a free scan of your computer. If you accept the offer, the scan claims to find a viral infection on your computer. It then helpfully offers you the chance to buy security software to clean this virus. When you accept the offer, the software takes you to an online shopping cart to collect your credit card information. If you back out of the offer at this time, the system will badger you with endless fake scans. Scareware is distributed by a number of means: websites, online social networking sites, Twitter and others, so you must always be vigilant.

Should you encounter what appears to be a Scareware warning box,┬ápress Ctrl-Alt-Del to access Task Manager, click to applications, scroll to the dialogue box, and click “end task.” This will force the warning box to close. If you don’t stop at this point, it will be very difficult to stop the attack. You can try running Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool, or cleanup tools from the antivirus software you use.

Global Virus Spread

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Globally Connected, in the Worst Way

Globally Connected, in the Worst Way

More than one million, and possibly as many as ten million, personal computers have been infected with the Conficker virus. The virus has claimed victims from the German military, computer networks in the British and French Air Forces and teaching hospitals in England. Conficker is particularly virulent because once it spreads it disables infected computers from being cleaned out, while searching nearby serves to break passwords and spread to any shared drives. It also replicates itself, like a DNA strand, onto any hardware device connected to a USB port, such as digital cameras, music players or key drives. When those infected devices are then connected to another computer, they infect that machine and so the virus spreads. This is apparently the means by which the computer networks of the French Navy were infected.

What makes Conficker so devastating is that on a daily basis, each computer infected with Conficker attempts to connect to 250 Internet domains for further instructions on destructive activities to carry out. Each day these 250 domains change, confounding efforts of security experts to shut them down. In effect, Conficker has created a massive botnet that could orchestrate spam attacks or cyber extortion or cyber militia attacks.

Generally, it is a bad idea to use external devices such as key drives for data storage; such devices can be lost or stolen. Now add another reason to the list: they can be used to transmit lethal viruses from one computer to another. Some businesses have their IT staff disable USB ports to prevent employees from using key drives. This may be an idea that small business owners should consider out of an abundance of caution.