Gmail attacked by phishing scam
Hackers are having great success in reeling in people’s personal details via phishing emails, and now Google have been caught in the net. Rosie Khdir reveals the new wave of spam attacks on our email.
More than 30,000 emails and passwords have been posted online after a phishing scam was launched against industry giants worldwide.
Google has revealed that some of its user’s login details have been stolen, apparently not through a breach of Gmail security, but by luring them using spam emails. A Google spokesperson confirmed the attack on the email system to BBC news and stated:
“As soon as we learned of the attack, we forced password resets on the affected accounts. We will continue to force password resets on additional accounts when we become aware of them."
Gmail was not the only email provider to be targeted. Hotmail users also suffered recently as 10,000 passwords and usernames were posted on the website Pastebin.com, a site where programmers share codes. A second list of names was then published containing addresses from Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and Gmail as well as other service providers, indicating that the problem may be industry-wide.
Some of the details listed were old or fake but Gmail and Hotmail were both able to confirm that some of the addresses listed were still active.
It is unknown whether the attack on Hotmail and the production of this second list are linked but all users are being cautioned and advised to change their passwords immediately. It is also recommended that people change their passwords, if they are the same, on any other websites.
The guidance is the same as ever concerning spam and phishing problems. Be vigilant, do not open emails from unknown senders, never enter personal details on suspicious looking sites and install and regularly update anti-virus software.
Image Credit: Spencer E Holtaway
Is that really his Facebook profile?Last week, Facebook discovered a host of new, identical profiles which were created by cybercriminals and designed to spread malware.
A large number of identical profiles were red-flagged, the only difference between them being names. Each profile had a link to what appeared to be a personal video but which instead displayed a fake antivirus alert when clicked.
It is the classic online scam which is designed to con the unsuspecting user into paying for unnecessary, fake anti-virus software they have absolutely no need for. The scammers then have credit card info for ID fraud purposes.
It is understood that the malicious link was blacklisted by most browsers and Facebook was blocking the URL from being shared on its site as it worked quickly to eradicate the fake profiles.
The CAPTCHA system which validates authentic profiles when people sign up appears to have been breached by scammers. This follows on from a recent breach to the CAPTCHA system through Twitter.
The story comes as news that The FBI now ranks cybercrime among its top priorities and many believe that it is something that NATO member states should be collectively working to eradicate. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have even overtaken government websites as the most attacked by cybercriminals.
Reports last week also suggested that with the release of Google Wave several fraudulent sites now appear in search results for queries like “Google wave invitation”. In doing so, the internet savvy can be tricked into visiting these websites and cybercrime further extends its web.--------------------------------------
Image credit: CarbonNYC
Clampi Virus warning
Computer users are being warned of a new virus that is sweeping accross the US and UK,infectiing thousands of computers and stealing money. John Hillman reports.
There are many viruses out there that are a cause of concern but computer users are being warned to be particularly weary of this one.
The Clampi Virus is a Trojan that remains dormant on your PC until you visit one of 4,500 finance related websites. It then activates itself and begins sending you login details to other computers, once your information is obtained criminals will then transfer money to their accounts.
It has already spread across both the UK and US and experts are warning that this is one of the most sophisticated and pervasive threats to PCs that operate on Microsoft Windows.
If you are concerned about the Clampi Virus and want to take steps to avoid infection then make sure that you follow the recommended protocol:
1: Install a comprehensive security solution and make sure that it is kept up to date.
2: Use a credit card, not a debit card, when shopping online.
3: Never click on links to sites contained within unknown or unverified emails, social networking sites or Instant Messaging.
Thankfully the virus is reasonably easy to remove and Norton suggests the following procedure if you suspect that your computer has been affected.
1. Disable System Restore (Windows Me/XP).it.
2. Update the virus definitions.
3. Run a full system scan.
4. Delete any values added to the registry.
5: Change any and all passwords used on that system for any websites.-------------------
Image credit: Howard Lake
New Trojan that covertly steals your money
A new Trojan virus is sweeping the online world, and this one is more sophisticated than ever... .
Experts are warning that the discovery of the The URLZone Trojan signifies the advent of the next generation of bank Trojans. So sophisticated, the URLZone can steal money from your bank account and then control your online banking account so that you are unaware that your money has gone.
It does this by re-writing HTML from the bank website so that the victim can't see the transfer in the account statement. This most significant benefit of this new means of theft is that it gives the cybercriminals a much larger time window with which to move the money to other accounts. It also means that your dwindling bank account can be milked dry over time, which keeps the transaction below the bank’s anti-fraud radar devices.
The next time you log into your online banking account, the virus changes the statement you see, thus concealing the stolen funds and giving an impression of normality. However, if you were to log onto your account from another computer, an uninfected computer, then the real story would be revealed.
The Trojan has a success rate of around 7.5%, which equates to roughly 1 in 15 people who are infected. As with most similar scams, the unsuspecting user is infected when they visit a website that is riddled with malware.
Upon infection, the log in details to your online banking account are noted and sent to a Command and Control server in Ukraine. This in turn informs the virus how much money to steal and where to send it.
After it infected about 6,400 computer users last month, the Trojan was clearing about €12,000 (US$1,750) per day. That puts it on track to rake in as much as €7.3 million annually.
What is becoming clearer is how hackers transfer stolen money around without detection. What are known as ‘money mules’ are used for this purpose. The ubiquitous adverts that you might see on websites like Facebook which offer work-from-home schemes are often fronts for money laundering. The unsuspecting mule recruited to work at home, has his/her legitimate bank account used to transfer money from a victim’s account to an offshore account.
The key to avoiding infection is the best security for your computer. If you make it difficult for a cybercriminal to access your computer, then chances are they will move elsewhere.__________
Image Credit: Darcy McCarty
Welcome to the Matrix
Most of our modern world is controlled by computers and with viruses on the rise are we heading for a Matrix style ending? Rosie Khdir uncovers the threats to our digital society.
Computer viruses are on the rise and cyber criminals are finding ever more inventive ways of hacking into our personal data. Stealing credit card details is one thing, but hacking into our NHS systems is one click too far.
It was reported this year by More4 news that NHS computer systems were infected with more than 8,000 dangerous viruses from 2007-2008.
One of the trusts affected was the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals foundation trust, where eight hundred personal computers were infected with the Conficker B virus, which cancelled some of its non-urgent appointments.
Patient appointments were also cancelled due to the Mytob worm virus which attacked at Barts and the London NHS trust; it was reported that this incident happened because anti-virus software wasn’t installed properly.
These infiltrations have sparked fears that patient records could be leaked, but the Department of Heath said that the patient records systems are “protected by the highest levels of access controls and other security measures”.
This isn’t the first instance where viruses have managed to work their way into organisations that have a part in governing our lives. London’s Ealing Council was attacked by a virus which entered their systems on a memory stick, an infection which ended up costing over £500,000 in emergency recovery.
Reports said that 1,838 parking tickets had to be cancelled, rent could not be collected, repairs had to be re-ordered, £14,000 went on overtime to deal with the backlog of housing benefits and libraries lost £25,000 as they could not take money for fines and bookings.
We all see this scenario in films, that is, us losing control of our computers and them effectively destroying humanity. But we are beginning to discover that these sci-fi creators may not be so far off the mark? With the modernisation of our society and our reliance on computers, we are opening up our world to virtual attack.
The investigation carried out by the More4 news suggested that these viruses could have been avoided had the NHS updated its anti-virus software. Anti-virus companies are trying their best to develop the protection but that is only half the work, the rest needs to be done by those who will actually install it.-------------------
Image credit: Marjan Krebelj
A trustworthy source?
John Hillman looks at some the weekend's big antivirus news stories and reflects on what they say about public attitudes to online safety
An article in last week’s Guardian by Bobbie Johnson highlights the growing problem faced by Internet users without adequate security software.
Although many people believe that avoiding dodgy websites and not downloading programmes from unknown sources is enough to prevent Malware infection, the fact that criminals are now using ad space on respectable websites like the New York Times, in order to lure unsuspecting victims, should serve as a real wake up call.
Malvertising is such a growing problem that it is leading to calls, from a across the technology industry, for more to be done by all relevant organisations to fight the practice. Some ads are so dangerous that they are capable of delivering their malicious payload simply when a person scrolls over an ad.
Coming on the back of more concerns over the growth of Spamware Affiliates in Russia, who have developed techniques that use Web 2.0 and blog forums to target spam traffic, the outlook for cybercrime is one of increasing sophistication and continuous growth.
The fact is that until a comprehensive global strategy is agreed to combat these problems, individuals remain vulnerable to attack even when engaged in the most innocent of online activities. This is simply because, by choosing not to install anti-virus protection on their PCs, they leave themselves open to attack. Despite the endless efforts of companies, such as McAfee, to raise awareness about this issue, public apathy and a mistaken belief that Malware is only present on dubious websites, remains one of the cybercriminal’s greatest assets.------------------------------------
Image Credit: scriptingnews
Cyber security centre opens in Belfast
The battle against cyber crime has stepped up a notch, as a new centre for research into cyber security has opened in Belfast. Rosie Khdir reports.
Hackers and cyber criminals everywhere should be quaking in their boots at the thought of Queen’s University’s new research centre which has just opened in Belfast.
The £25m Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) is funded by the government though the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Technology Strategy Board, Queen’s University Belfast and a range of industrial partners.
Its researchers and scientists will be working on the following projects:• Ultra powerful processors to enable safer internet surfing • Innovative CCTV analysis to cut crime on public transport • Cutting-edge research to combat computer viruses
The CSIT will be working on ground-breaking hardware that will protect internet users from online harassers, ID theft, viruses and other web-based crimes, and they hope that this processor will be in use within 3-5 years.
Dr Sakir Sezer, the project leader, said:
“The combination of next-generation content-processor technology and more sophisticated rulesets will improve internet security beyond recognition, ensuring more threats and attacks are prevented or mitigated at a much earlier stage. That means less online bullying and harassment, less identity theft, fewer viruses and less internet misuse in general for users to contend with.”
With the internet growing at an alarming rate, it seems that this centre has been set up at the perfect time, enabling internet providers to effectively process the huge waves of data so that web-users are safe. Current systems cannot analyse large amounts of data in real-time but these new technologies will enable real-time processing for the first time.
The centre will be working closely with internet providers and equipment manufacturers so that they deliver its service to the public as soon as possible. It seems that the cyber criminals’ days are numbered!
Beware the fake Twitter account
Internet security experts are calling for increased vigilance after anti-virus scareware was found in huge numbers of fake Twitter accounts.------------------------------------
The profiles look very credible with numerous different account names which are often German and each account appears to come from a different city, often in the US.
The tweets by the fake accounts are auto-generated, picking up keywords or simply copying other people’s tweets and they are intended to spread links to malware-infected websites. These websites fool the unsuspecting user into believing that their system is plagued by viruses, with fraudulent Windows Security Alerts for example popping up to prompt action and visit a fake websites to buy a bogus anti-virus product.
It seems that the newly improved CAPTCHA technology that prevents computers from being able to register accounts with social networking sites like Twitter has now been sussed out by the cybercriminals.
Other recent high profile malware attacks, such as on the New York Times website earlier this month, demonstrate that the threat from cyber crime is constantly changing. Over a weekend in early September, scammers managed to swap an advertisement on the NY Times website for one serving a fake virus-warning and scareware product which intended to sell fake security software.
These attacks show that hackers are willing and able to infiltrate massive, mainstream websites as opposed to adhering to the previous practice of targeting music download sites. It is a level of ambition never witnessed before and one which requires the utmost caution online.
This Twitter scam comes as news that celebrities are threatening legal action against Twitter for accounts set up in their name. Ewan McGregor, Cheryl Cole and others are all said to be considering action after thousands of followers of bogus accounts set up in their names read fake updates. Troubling times for Twitter you might tweet!------------------------------------
Image Credit: spin spin
Swine flu plagues the internet
As winter nears everyone is once again taking precautions against swine flu, but how do you protect your computer? Rosie Khdir reveals the online scam that’s got people squealing.
In April this year when swine flu was first causing a stir, a new kind of virus began to take hold, but this one affected our computers. Cyber criminals manipulated those who were concerned about the H1N1 virus and instead gave them one that could rob them blind. Scammers would send out emails supposedly containing helpful information about the illness and its treatments. These emails would either have a virus installed which would allow them to access the recipient’s personal data, or lead them to a site that would ask them for information such as their bank details and private passwords. Internet security companies are suspecting a similar bout of scams during the renowned ‘flu season’ as predictions emerge of a second wave of the virus. So while the hospitals prepare for a pandemic, we must prepare ourselves for an online spam invasion. To avoid being fooled by these criminals make sure you have appropriate internet security, be cautious when opening emails or attachments from unknown senders and, for accurate swine flu information, visit official NHS sites. Image credit: Don Hankins
Lily Allen takes a stand against illegal file sharing
In April this year when swine flu was first causing a stir, a new kind of virus began to take hold, but this one affected our computers. Cyber criminals manipulated those who were concerned about the H1N1 virus and instead gave them one that could rob them blind.
Scammers would send out emails supposedly containing helpful information about the illness and its treatments. These emails would either have a virus installed which would allow them to access the recipient’s personal data, or lead them to a site that would ask them for information such as their bank details and private passwords.
Internet security companies are suspecting a similar bout of scams during the renowned ‘flu season’ as predictions emerge of a second wave of the virus. So while the hospitals prepare for a pandemic, we must prepare ourselves for an online spam invasion.
To avoid being fooled by these criminals make sure you have appropriate internet security, be cautious when opening emails or attachments from unknown senders and, for accurate swine flu information, visit official NHS sites.----------------------------------------
Image credit: Don Hankins
“It’s not fair and I think you’re really mean… for downloading my songs without paying for them.” These would be more appropriate lyrics to Lily Allen’s recent single as she wages war on music piracy.
Allen has expressed her full support for Lord Peter Mandelson’s proposed legislation that pushes to suspend the internet connections of persistent file sharers. Lord Mandelson said:
"I am of the view that the unchecked proliferation of illegal downloading (even on a ‘non-commercial’ basis) will have a seriously detrimental effect on musicians, and particularly young musicians and those composers who are not performing artists."
The suspension is said to be used only as a last resort against repeat offenders who have been sent warnings against their illegal activity.
Allen recently posted a blog on her MySpace page entitled “It’s Not Alright” stating that “file sharing is a disaster” for new talent, a view that has since been backed by Elton John, James Blunt and Matt Bettany of Muse.
Stars such as Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, Annie Lennox and Ed O’Brien of Radiohead, all members of the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) have suggested, however, that it would be unfair to punish fans who download only a small amount of music and say that it is an “important form of promotion”.
The reluctance of the FAC to back the proposed legislation has been viewed by some as an indication of their support for file sharing.
The FAC, a not-for-profit lobbying group that aims to educate and protect the rights of artists, released a statement on their website clarifying that they were not pro-illegal downloading and believe that the “work of artists should be paid for by those who enjoy it”.
The Coalition believe that punishing innocent fans is not the way forward and have stated: “In respect of this particular issue, we have agreed to disagree."-------------------------------------
Image Credit: Benoît Derrier
Google pledges data mobility
As users finally understand the dangers of cloud computing, Google seeks to reassure them with extractable data applications. Pavla Tolonen hopes this will inspire all companies to do the same.------------------------------------
After the recent surge in antipathy for cloud computing services, Google has announced that they will enable all their resources to be extracted and placed on an alternative data bases – should a customer want this.
While welcomed, the move is not entirely unexpected as any ambitions Google may have for remote data storage would never work with users doubting the flexibility of their services. Cloud computing, which could easily be described as users saving photos, files and software on a remote server, has received increasing criticism for being one-sided in holding user data safe.
What is refreshingly surprising, however, is the attitude with which Google’s new Data Liberation team have approached the issue. They have revealed plans for a one-button extract tool and even incorporated a Monty Python joke while creating the name for the team assigned to convert all Google applications. Finally, Google has restored hope in their liberal, fun-seeking image.
Although this initiative is not originally a Google creation, the company seems to have successfully sparked enough debate about the inaccessibility of user information when a user wishes to leave a site.
The non-profit, inner-industry think tank Data Portability Project, has been struggling to perfect a strategy to tackle data mobility since 2007, but have now been beaten to the solution by Google.
Often data and images are hard to remove, or are completely lost if a user wishes to leave an account. This is why Google has already integrated Gmail and Blogger to the new system, so if a user wishes to leave they can get all their information at the figurative door.
Free, unenclosed data mobility is exactly where we should be headed in this industry, but how accurately this policy can be enacted will prove tricky. Several file format standards for moving files across different networks and operating systems will emerge and we will undoubtedly see a dominant format crush the competition.
Despite Google pioneering the main standard, they may not create the ideal standard for odd files like revision content, where several layers of modifications appear, making files larger to process. We will have to wait for a comprehensive system, but for now, this progress seems very promising.
Image credit: bionicteaching
The acsent of cybercrimeThe days of thieves scraping by on a few thousand pounds of week, whilst putting themselves and the public in great danger, are at an end, says John Hillman . A new breed of digital crook rules the big money crime leagues and they’ve swapped the sawn off shot guns for laptops.
The Internet has given rise to a new breed of thief capable of stealing money on a scale of previously unimaginable proportions. Whereas the Great Train Robbery of 1963 made household names of men like Buster Edwards and Ronnie Biggs, for the theft of a mere£2.6 million, today’s cyber-criminals are making that sort of money every day without even leaving their living rooms.
Take last week’s story from the US: 28 year old Albert Gonzalez, a.k.a. “the soupnazi”, pleaded guilty to 19 counts of theft, for hacking into a number of well-known US firms, exploiting flaws in their security systems, and making off with over 40 million credit card details.
Once in possession of the information he sold most of the credit card details on to other crooks, but only after saving the choicest ones for himself. He cloned these ones and used them to withdraw the sort of cash your average 60s bank robber could only dream of.
Gonzalez is facing 45 years behind bars. The fact that he previously escaped jail back in 2003 for his role as a member of the “Shadow Crew” , by becoming an informant against his fellow thieves, means that he can expect little mercy from the courts when they come to sentence him in December.
However, around the world there are possibly thousands more unscrupulous individuals happy to step into his shoes. In Eastern Europe there are gangs reportedly making around $34 million a month through cyber-crime, and the CEO of McAfee, David DeWatt, hit the news last week when he announced that cybercrime has now officially overtaken the drugs trade in terms of overall value, believing it to be worth a staggering $105 billion.
With over 3 million Britons becoming victims of cyber-crime each year it looks like we are all going to have to face up to the dark reality of this digital age, and it’s about time we do; one of the biggest reasons that it has become so huge is that many of us simply don’t take the problem that seriously.--------------------------------------
Image credit: Tracy O
Pidgeon beats Telkom broadbandPavla Tolonen joins the bandwagon for pidgeon protests against slow internet transfer speeds ------------------------------------
The South African financial services provider Unlimited has beaten their internet provider Telkom’s ADSL transfer speeds by sending a 4GB memory stick across 60 miles attached to a pidgeon. When the pidgeon named Winston arrived from its two hour trek from Howick to Hillcrest, the online file transfer had reached four per cent, far underperforming the bird.
Kevin Rolfe, Head of Information Technology at the Unlimited Group agreed the 11-month-old pidgeon was obviously vulnerable to threats like bad weather conditions and hawks, but said the company were willing to take their chances regarding the new file transfer system.
The company hopes to further improve transfer speeds, arguing that Winston’s trainers could probably teach him to do the same journey in 45 minutes.
Telkom has denied any responsibility regarding the slow transfer speeds displayed by Unlimited and told the BBC they had tried to offer the company solutions for this but none had been accepted. Meanwhile over 300 eager followers in South Africa tuned into the activity via Twitter and 1,357 became fans of Winston the pidgeon on Facebook.
The official website for Winston the pidgeon www.pigeonrace2009.co.za, features regular updates from the bird’s blog, on which he posts topics concerning his existence as a pidgeon. The race could also be followed live online at www.ustream.tv. Winston also states the rules of Pigeonrace2009 on the site. These include “no cats allowed” and “birdseed must not have any performance enhancing seeds within.”
His victory has been keenly embraced online, with most of the media covering the story and tweeters flocking to congratulate the bird for its feat against Telkom.
Some have even created tributes to the pidgeon, joining the criticism towards a lack of inefficient internet access, which South Africa hopes will improve after three new fibre optic cables are delivered to the continent.
Image credit: Réne (and then some)
Wordpress hit by online attacks
Peter Moore looks at the news that Wordpress has become the latest victim of online hackers
This weekend Wordpress, one of the most popular open source blogging platforms, revealed that old versions of its software had been attacked by a potentially dangerous worm.
A statement released on Wordpress’ official blog noted that:
The appearance of the worm alarmed a worldwide network of Wordpress users, which includes millions of bloggers as well as organisations such as Ebay, the Daily Telegraph and Downing Street.
This latest attack suggests that Wordpress has become a victim of its own success. Wordpress blogging software is free to download while its infrastructure has been built by a global network of coders, making it an easy and obvious target for determined hackers.
To counter the growing threat posed by these hackers, Wordpress includes vital security updates in each of its new versions, which appear continuously throughout the year.
Each of these updates help to shut security holes, but as the code is open source (freely available to be viewed and developed) hackers can easily access it, study it and use this knowledge to target weak areas of coding with dangerous worms. Writing in the Guardian, Charles Arthur speculated:
“Some people are already comparing it to Windows: such a big target that any attack is bound to hit some big fish, and plenty of little ones. And how many people have enough control or interest in their blog to go to the trouble of cleaning up? Windows botnets tell you what the situation is like on Windows. Spam comments tell you how things are in terms of cleaning up comments. And what about cleaning up the hacked content of your blog?“
This latest attack is being considered a vital moment in the emergence of Wordpress as an important ‘building block’ of the web. Over the weekend, hackers have proven that the Wordpress infrastructure is still dangerously fragile and the question remains – could this be a fatal flaw in the open source plan.
A list of ‘Things You Need to Know’ about this latest Wordpress attack has been published on Lorelle’s Wordpress blog.
Image credit: For Ever Young
Schadenfreude is not the most attractive thing in the world, says John Hillman, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself.
As we scour the world to bring you news of the latest virus outbreaks it’s not often that we come across a story that, dare we say it, might bring a smile to the face of the average person on the street.
But anyone in the UK who has rushed back from the shops, one minute over their allotted parking time, to find an intransigent uniformed council official smugly attaching a parking ticket to their car and grinning at them as they hopelessly plead for mercy, can’t help but chuckle at the plight of the Ealing Council worker who plugged a virus infected memory stick into his office PC and caused 1,838 of them to be lost.
However, having indulged my inner Jeremy Clarkson, the story in today’s Guardian highlights just how vulnerable even large scale organisations allow themselves to become by not making sure that they are protected with robust anti-virus software.
The infected memory stick unleashed a wave of chaos throughout the council’s computer system. Phone lines were brought down and internal communications made impossible. It cost Ealing over £500,000 in lost revenue, from lost library fines to uncollected rents, with a staggering £90,000 from the unpaid parking tickets alone.
The Tory run council has stated that it managed to protect frontline services and deal with the problem quickly and efficiently. However, £500,000 is going to leave a big hole in their finances – one which they’re going to have to fix. So how do you think they’ll do that? By increasing the number of traffic wardens perhaps? Next time I go to Ealing I think I’ll be taking the bus (sorry Jeremy).
Image credit: Paul & Aline
Jessica Biel most dangerous online celebrity
A new report from McAfee has announced that US actress Jessica Biel is now the most dangerous celebrity when it comes to searching for related content online. But to many Brits this will come as quite a shock, says John Hillman , as over here we simply don't know her well enough, or do we?
After a year in which Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie looked unassailable, a surprise newcomer has emerged to claim the rather dubious honour of “world's most dangerous online celebrity”.
Jessica Biel has been named in McAfee’s annual report as the celebrity whose search results are most likely to lead you to a site containing malware.
Likewise, if you look at the figures for the UK alone, it emerges that local celebrity Jordan is the most dangerous name to search for here.
It appears that anyone looking for Biel related content has a staggering one-in-five chance of landing on a page that will attempt to attack your computer.
This incredibly high figure shows us that online criminals have identifies Biel as a serious traffic generator and are using her to propagate online threats. McAfee’s report states that:
“Cybercriminals are star watchers, too. They latch onto popular celebrities to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise.”
So what do we know about Jessica Biel and why is she suddenly more popular than the Brangelina axis? She is the star of such cinematic classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake/tribute/whatever), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Summer Catch.
Judging by the films she’s made and the type of audience they attract, and also by the way she looks, it is safe to say that this report should serve as a warning to all parents with teenage sons to make sure that their home PC is fully protected from threats. I could be wrong but I don’t think she’s the type of actress your grandmother will be Googling very often.
Image Credit: Maggiejumps
Cybercrime- alternative career choice?
While the global economy still reels from the effects of the recession, it seems that some unemployed IT specialists are turning in cybercrime.. Murali Podila investigates.
In the wake of the discovery that a 130m credit and debit cards have been stolen in USA, researchers at the University of Brighton have concluded that there has been a dramatic increase in cybercrime over the recent years. This is backed up by recent statistics from the Internet Security threat report 2008 that show a 468% increase in computer viruses between 2007 and 2008.
The report also highlights an alarming increase in India, China, Brazil and Russia. Brazil, Russia and China are considered to be world leaders in cybercrime, whilst there has been a sizeable 50 fold increase in cybercrime in India. This increase has been due to low salaries and high turnover in the IT industry in India and also an increase in call center cybercrime. This involves hacking into the banks and then taking out money.
There are many ways to commit cybercrime. A popular way is a Denial of Service (DoS) attack that targets a website or web server by sending more traffic to it than it can handle. An ‘upside’ of DoS attacks is that they don’t steal any private information, which is where malware comes in. Malware are things such as viruses, worms, Trojans. This usually involves an executable file being replicated on a network thus causing things like deletion of important files.
Of all methods of cybercrime, the most recent and profitable is by using things like spyware, botnets and keystroke loggers. There are many ways that spyware can be profitable, the main way being spam and popups ads. Another worrying method is to gather bank account information or passwords by using key loggers.
Although there has been an increase in virus detection and protection, human error is still one of the major reasons why there are so many cybercrimes occurring.
Image credit: Martin Kingsley
Future wars possibly online
Cyberwars may sound incredibly scifi-based but governments are bracing themselves for the new computer frontier.
Pavla Tolonen wonders if we’ll all survive.
As we get richer, lazier and more likely to surrender in a fight due to our sugar and carb-infested existence, we are also more prone to complain online and avoid real combat in any way possible. This behaviour, apparently, may also apply to actual warfare.
Governments across the globe have no doubt already solidified a selection of cybercrime policies, but now reports are trickling in suggesting that real war conflict may be settled online.
Now, we’re not talking about Mikhail Saakashvili taking on Dmitry Medvedev in World of Warcraft or Command & Conquer, but a fully-fledged attack on global databases, and they say it has already begun.
This month’s DDOS (denial-of-service) attacks on micro-blogging site Twitter showed how significantly a global network of millions of users can be disabled in a mere matter of seconds. Yet, still, experts are cavorting in the exuberance of cloud computing, in which users store data online.
Fair enough, it may be efficient and probably quite safe, but where are all the users who cry about user’s rights and the horrible tentacles of big brother. Surely keeping all your important documents on a foreign server far away from your own reach is simply you handing them over, nonchalantly hoping they will never be accessed and tampered with. Don’t be fooled, free email accounts really do have a price - they tax your prerogative.
To be fair, cloud computing is certainly an effective way to share software and interoffice documents, but as service providers increase their capacity to uphold more facilities online, we should not entirely follow by keeping all our activities on their server.
Service providers do not ultimately owe you anything as you are a free consumer, therefore you are entrusting them with your information with no real leverage. As you owe them for the service, they can take the right upon themselves to control the system, and all your information.
Of course email account providers like Yahoo, Hotmail and GoogleMail guarantee your personal details, but the bigger their data bases become, and the more they move towards comprehensive cloud computing, the higher the risk is that somebody attempts to attack them for it.
So with computing, just like anything else, remember to spread the risk over several sources. Buy an external hard-drive (or at least a USB stick), invest in more than one email address and keep any important printed files at home.
Image credit: tnarik
Australian hacker pandemic
The latest arrest of an Adelaide hacker is really just the tip of the iceberg says John Hillman.
News today an Australian hacker has been charged with infecting over 3,000 computers, in an attempt to capture banking and credit card data, will not come as a surprise to the Australian Computer Society.
Neither will the fact that he has been charged with creating a botnet of 74,000 computers. This was so that he could bombard systems around the world with unwanted web traffic.
Australia is in the grip of a wave of cyber-crime. Recent data revealed that the problem down-under is so great that you are now more likely to become a victim of cyber crime than burglary, assault or robbery.
Personally that’s no bad thing; forced to make a choice between having someone steal money from my account or coming face-to-face with a burglar at 3 a.m. I’m sure that most of us would choose the former. But it does highlight just how prevalent the problem has become.
Even though this man now faces being sentenced for up to 10 years each for each of his multiple crimes, the fact that he did it suggest that the possible gains from such activities outweigh the risks, in the criminal’s mind at least. Police believe that his arrest will soon lead to many others.
Things are so bad that the ACS’s Chairman, Kumar Parakala, recently said that cyber-crime in Australia was endangering their digital economy and had become:
“A major impediment to our further growth in this area, and requires a corresponding investment by Government and commercial interests to help Australians increase and maintain confidence in online transactions.”
This follows from last June when a major tax-refund scam targeted Australian taxpayers, directing them to a replica tax office website in an attempt to gain their personal information, in an activity known as phishing.
The problem has been caused, according to the ACS, by a general level of ignorance about cyber-security amongst the government, business community and the general public, making them soft targets for the organised criminal activities of the gangs. It is, said Parakala:
“...an unfortunate by-product of high speed, always on, internet services.”
Security software would go a long way to reducing these attacks by preventing hackers from accessing your PC and warning you when you are visiting bogus phishing websites.-------------------------------------------
Image Credit: u07ch
Music downloading still rampant
John Hillman reports on the findings of a new survey by UK Music, showing that young people are still taking big risks when it comes to free music
Malware threats don’t appear to be stopping young people from illegal downloading.Why? So it may be illegal and it might destroy your computer but here’s the thing, according to one respondent:
"It was my parent's computer, so if anyone was going to get in trouble, it wasn't going to be me. Excellent."
There you have it, 61% of respondents said that still they downloaded music through peer-to-peer networks, and this despite the popularity of new sites such as Spotify.
The survey looked at 14-24 year olds and was carried out by the University of Hertfordshire on behalf of UK Music.
The dangers of P2P file sharing are that you are basically opening your computer up for others to access, without knowing who they are.
When you consider that 70 of the world’s most popular websites hosted malicious content or contained a link to sites that did it’s pretty obvious that your child’s file sharing activities, even on well known sites, can put your family’s digital privacy in danger.
One of the safest precautions is the addition of good family protection software that cblocks your children from accessing inappropriate content online and restricts the amount of time they can actually spend online.---------------------------------------
Image Credit: Jsome1