Malware – There’s A New One In Town

A powerful malware is spreading through phishing campaigns using a Microsoft Word attachment.

It’s called Smoke Loader, and, according to Bullguard, has several components:

  • It can download browser plug-ins for Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, QQ Browser browsers and Thunderbird and Outlook email clients
  • These plug-ins steal stored credentials, such as passwords, and also sensitive information transferred over a browser
  • The malware is injected into applications like TeamViewer, an application that allows users to remotely view others desktops

Although it’s been around for some years, it has become increasingly sophisticated.

Its creators have recently added anti-analysis techniques to make forensics difficult. As a result, it’s harder to trace the source of the servers. Plus new runtime AV scanners, tracing, and debugging features to confound researchers who try and find out more about it.

Keep your eyes peeled

The best way to guard against phishing campaigns, other than using good security software, is to be on your guard.

Phishing emails contain some form of bait message, such as an invoice, a parcel for collection or a PDF requiring downloading.

You can protect yourself by:

  • Casting a healthily suspicious eye on an unexpected email promising something
  • Questioning emails from apparently legitimate organisations with which you have had no dealing. Cybercrooks are good at mocking up emails that appear to be legitimate
  • Looking out for spelling or syntax errors; these are often clues that the email is not what it claims to be
  • Never revealing your personal information such as passwords, bank account numbers and card information even if the mail appears to be from your bank. If in doubt call your bank and speak to someone in the fraud department

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding villages.

Source: Bullguard

Look Out, There’s SMS Phishing About

SMS Phishing scam

 

SMS Phishing is fast becoming one of the most common forms of threat – even more so than fake apps.

You might think that in the scale of things, SMS scams as a cyber threat is a bit old school, but that’s what makes them so darn clever. You are constantly reminded about looking out for fake apps, dodgy emails and unsecured websites but what happens if you get a text telling you you’ve won a product?

The chances are because it’s not an email, you would be drawn in. The fake URL contained within the message proves too tempting, and you click – after all, what harm could it do? It’s only a text.

The problem is that one click will unleash malware on your smartphone.

Don’t get caught out

It pays to be vigilant whether using your PC, tablet or phone. To help you stay safe here are a few things to watch out for, courtesy of BullGuard:

  • Don’t click on messages from unknown sources that contain links
  • Don’t reply to any messages that ask about your finances
  • If the text demands a quick reply, ignore it, it’s probably a smishing attempt
  • Don’t call back a number associated with a text that has arrived ‘out of the blue’
  • If the message starts: “Dear user, congratulations, you have won” (or something along those lines) it’s a scam
  • If the message purports to be from a long lost friend, it’s a scam

To be on the safe side, here at MPM we recommend you protect your devices with a product like BullGuard (others are available).

Above all, stay vigilant and stay safe.

 

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: BullGuard

It’s The Season of Giving But That Doesn’t Mean You Should Give a Stranger Access to Your Computer

Scammers and hackers

 

It’s The Season of the Hacker

We first published this blog post back in June of last year to warn you about hackers. However, considering the number of clients we’ve been trying to rescue from scams recently, it’s about time we posted it again.

Regardless of whether you get a phone call purporting to be from your phone company or a software giant, hang up. Just today we were called by ‘BT’ telling us that someone had hacked our router and could see all our internet searches and purchases. All we had to do was go to Google and open a site…we put the phone down at that point. And that’s what you should be doing.

Now and then the scam phone calls start.

They come out of the blue to catch you unawares.

As you go about your business, someone informs you there’s a problem with your computer – what do you do?

Before I answer that take a look at these questions:

  • Would you give a total stranger the keys to your house?
  • Would you give a total stranger the keys to your car?
  • Would you tell a total stranger how to access your financial banking system?

I’m guessing you answered no to all of those. So how come people give a total stranger (i.e. a hacker) access to their computer?

On the strength of one unsolicited call, people allow remote access to their computers – and that means their files, photos and everything else they hold dear.

Yes, the caller is probably very polite, they will even try to make you believe they are doing you a favour and have called just in the nick of time.

But answer me this – how do they know what’s on your computer? There is no way they can tell what software you’re running, programmes or anything else for that matter, so there is no way they’ll know whether you have a virus on your machine or not.

No one from a multinational billion dollar turnover company (i.e. Microsoft) is going to phone a residential customer to resolve an issue on their PC or laptop.

When you get one of these bogus calls – and you will – do yourself a favour and hang up on them. If you want, call a trusted local company, like MPM IT and get them to check over your PC for you for your peace of mind.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Why You Should Think Twice Before Sharing Your Location Online

don't share your location

 

It’s good to share – at least that’s what many of today’s apps would like you to believe.

Foursquare, Facebook, Swarm and Twitter encourage you to check-in everywhere you go. Now, for most of us, that’s not a big deal. However, if you’re one of those people with hundreds and thousands of followers, are you sure sharing is safe?

The potential harm

You might think this is a fuss over nothing and, to be honest, 90% of the time sharing your location is completely harmless. But, the potential for crime is real.

There have been instances where burglars have monitored social media so the can target houses of those posting idyllic photos of their beach holiday.

Sharing your location can lead to unwanted visitors – how about a jealous ex turning up unannounced? OK, this in all likelihood is rare, but it could happen.

Sharing safely

We don’t want to be a party pooper, and you can enjoy these apps safely. The key is to make sure you know who you’re sharing your location information with. Rather than broadcasting your location publicly, think about who you want to see where you are.

Panda Security offers these tips:

Apple

Tools like Apple’s iMessage allow you to send pinpoint locations to specific contacts for instance – perfect when you’re trying to organise a meeting, or when one of your friends gets lost on the way. Find My Friends, another Apple app, allows family members and close friends to keep tabs on each other all the time – so long as they agree to sharing their location first.

Android

For Android users, Panda Mobile Security limits sharing personal information through the Privacy Auditor. It shows the permissions required by the apps installed on your device (access to contacts, bank account data, photos, your location, etc.). With a quick look you’ll decide which apps can have access to your location.

Google Maps offers similar functionality – but to maintain your privacy you must set a time limit for sharing. This means your contacts will only see where you are for a few hours or days, reducing the risk of someone you don’t want following you around.

So there are ways you can share your location safely.

Above all:

  • Don’t share your location blindly to everyone
  • Regularly check your sharing permissions
  • use privacy-based apps like iMessage, Find My Friends and Google Maps

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Panda Security

Please, Please, Backup Your Data

backup

Have you noticed how many ‘experts’ have sprung up recently?

They’re everywhere.

They’re always telling you to eat healthier, drink less, do more exercise – basically stating what should be obvious. Of course, that doesn’t mean you take any notice of their advice. After all, if you did everything they told you to do life would be pretty boring.

The problem is you shouldn’t ignore all their advice. Listen to it and take on board the things that will make a difference to you.

If you do ignore all the advice you are given, you could regret it.

Take a new client of ours.

The other day, we a small business that had tried to self-manage its computer and fix a problem itself.

The fix resulted in the loss of emails. After much head scratching, the team decided to call MPMIT.

Of course, the first thing we did was to ask if they had a backup, to which they replied:

‘What’s that? Not sure how I go about doing that.’

After a visit to their site, we managed to retrieve their emails and get their systems back up and working again.

After explaining what help MPMIT can provide for small businesses they have agreed to come onboard with our 6 monthly maintenance scheme.

The maintenance scheme consists of regular site visits primarily to make sure that everything is clean and dust free, that all the software is behaving itself and is up to date, and to make sure you have a backup of all your data external to the machines in your business.

The moral of this story is, if you haven’t already done so, make sure you have a maintenance plan sorted? If you don’t, you could end up doing a lot of damage to your business.

 

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Beware Fake Apps

Fake apps

 

Yes, there really are fake apps out there masquerading as the real deal.

They can be used to implant trojans onto your device that can, for instance, be used to steal banking credentials, spyware and adware.

Last year, two new types of mobile malware were found that planted adware and spyware:

  • LevelDropper – discovered in the Google Play Store it first rooted devices and then went on to install applications on the victim’s device such as adware and malicious spyware.
  • Shedun – masqueraded as legitimate apps such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp and then planted adware

How to spot the fakes

A recent article on Bullguard.com offers some handy tips on how you can spot fake apps:

  • Many fake apps are clones of popular established apps. If in doubt as to the legitimacy of an app you are about to download back pedal a little bit and do a bit of research.

  • Read reviews about the app. If they are short and a bit bland it could well be a scam. Also look out for reviews from users who have been duped; they’ll let you know in no uncertain terms if it’s a scam.

  • However, also keep in mind that an app with few reviews or few downloads might be from a developer who is just starting out.

  • To establish a developer’s legitimacy see if they have a website. If they are genuine they will likely have website  that showcases their apps.

  • You can also check the app details. If it’s genuine it will likely be well designed with lots of clear instructions. If it’s a scam its likely to be poorly designed so much so it could be actually quite jarring.

Here at MPMIT, we recommend you use BullGuard to protect your devices.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

 Source: Bullguard

Tips From the Pros to Help You Find the Right Cybersecurity Product For Your Business

keep data safe

 

Making sure you find the right Cybersecurity product for your business is essential but with so many companies out there vying for your cash, how can you be sure you pick the right one?

A recent article on pcworld.com includes some top tips from actual buyers of enterprise security products. Here’s a summary of what they said:

  • Do your research by looking at customer recommendations instead of relying on what the vendors say

  • Test the security product in house

  • “Great security companies are concentrating not just on selling, but they’re interested in supporting your enterprise, and providing consulting [and] best security practices” – Damian Finol, security technical program manager at a major internet firm

  • Approach your product search with a firm plan – “identify what your success criteria is and tell that to the vendor. And then bake that into the service contract” – Quentin Taylor, director of information security at Canon EMEA

  • “Bad vendors tend to use scare tactics, while good vendors listen to your needs and try to help secure your business, even if that means offering free advice” – Jonathan Chow, a CISO at an entertainment focused company

  •  “Be wary of vendors that can’t offer any customer references, or that only offer product demos under strict test conditions” – Brian Honan, CEO of BH Consulting

You can see the full article here.

All sound advice.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Even Old Windows Server Machines Can Fend of Hacks

Windows Server 2003

 

Microsoft wants you to upgrade your business onto the latest Windows OSes that offer security patches because, if you’re running a Windows Server 2003 machine, you’re doomed.

Sound advice, but many large institutions (such as those in healthcare and manufacturing) can’t upgrade because they rely on legacy software that won’t run on modern operating systems.

It costs an enormous amount to upgrade, especially when the machines are fine and it’s just the Server that’s the issue.

However, all is not lost because there are some things you can do to keep your old Windows Server 2003 secure.

Network segmentation and monitoring

Network segmentation goes beyond placing vulnerable servers behind a firewall.

By restricting access to your most critical servers, and making sure only system admins can control them, you’re reducing the network hackers can access should they breach your firewall.

It’s not a costly exercise, and Enterprise internet routers often have access control features that can limit which computers can talk to what. It’s also wise to monitor vulnerable servers (especially if carrying critical information) for any unusual traffic.

Application whitelisting

Whitelisting works by allowing only trusted applications to run on your computer.

It’s the opposite approach to antivirus products that blacklist malicious programs based on known indicators.

Backup sensitive data

Hopefully, you’re already doing this, but backing up important data stored in your machines will help. Particularly with the growing popularity of ransomware that infects your computer and encrypts all the data within it, which will only be freed once a ransom is paid.

The best option

Although these ideas will help, the best solution is still to upgrade.

Yes, it will be costly in the short-term, but that investment will help the long-term security of your data and reputation of your business.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: pcworld

Is There a Script Kiddie Watching You?

Webcam

 

A recent article in Trascendit caught our eye. It was about webcams, or more specifically about people watching you through yours.

It’s not a sophisticated hack, but it’s rather unnerving because they’re not doing it for financial gain; instead, they’re doing it for fun.

The people behind it are known as Script Kiddies (or skiddies). They don’t write any complicated software or code to get into your machine; they rely on you to do the damage for them.
They use a simple phishing scam that’s sent directly to your email that’s made to look like any other email from an organisation. But once you click a link the malicious software installs without you realising.

This type of malware isn’t designed to steal your passwords or card details, (at least, not at first) but to give the sender remote access to your machine. It’s called a Remote Access Tool, or just a RAT – and it’s exactly as unpleasant as it sounds.

Once installed, the Script Kiddie has complete control of your machine. They can flip your screen, open your disk drive, open websites, browse your private documents and pictures and log your keystrokes to steal your information. Or, if they prefer, just turn on your webcam and microphone and start watching.
The scariest part of this hack is that it’s almost impossible to know whether you’re a victim.
There are things you can do to make sure that you don’t end up on one of these sites:

  • Learn how to identify phishing emails
  • Don’t use torrents
  • Install antivirus software, and do a full scan every month or so
  • Get yourself awebcam cover – just in case.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Have You Installed the Emergency Flash Patch?

emergency flash patch

 

As a PC user, you rely on Microsoft’s regular patch updates to make sure your system works smoothly and remains secure.

Adobe and Microsoft release Flash Player updates at about the same time to limit the number of vulnerable users, but in February something went wrong.

We’re not sure what because Microsoft is keeping tight-lipped, but for some reason, the software giant cancelled it’s usual Patch Tuesday that month.

As a result, a critical security fix has been released to resolve the problem with Adobe’s Flash Player on:

  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 RE
  • Windows RT 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2016

According to The Verge:

“The patch requires a restart, and fixes a problem that could lead to remote code execution. It’s a serious issue, so check Windows Update and install the patch immediately.”

Check your patches

Historically it’s been shown that attackers analyse Flash Player updates to find vulnerabilities, which are then used to attack the users who haven’t patched their systems.

That’s why it’s important to double-check whether you have downloaded the patch.

If you haven’t, your whole system is at risk.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Spiceworks