Hackers Target Email, Blogs, Social Networking Sites

In a report by security firm Websense , an alarming rise in the growth of malicious websites was identified in 2009 as compared to 2008 – almost 225 percent. The study also found an increased focus among hackers and spammers on targeting social media sites such as blogs and wikis. Social media or so-called Web 2.0 sites allow user-generated content , which can be a source of vulnerability. Researchers identified that up to 95 percent of user-generated comments to blogs, chat rooms, and message boards are spam or malicious – linking to data stealing sites or to downloads of malicious software . Email also continues to be a target for malicious activity with tens of thousands of Hotmail , Gmail and Yahoo! email accounts hacked and passwords stolen and posted online in 2009, which resulted in a marked increase in the number of spam emails. For our clients on our Managed Service plans, we work hard to ensure your systems are protected from harmful or malicious activity coming from the Internet. If you’re not under our Managed Service plans perhaps now is a good time to talk – let’s make sure your systems are safe in 2010. Related articles Top search results riddled with malware (v3.co.uk) Email phishing attack spreading say experts (telegraph.co.uk) Fraudsters Go Phishing For Victims’ Friends (news.sky.com)

Mozilla Firefox Add-Ons Download Site was Harboring Malware

Mozilla , the organization behind the popular Firefox browser disclosed that two add-ons available for download on its website were vectors for Trojans that could compromise users’ computers. Add-ons allow users to extend and enhance the capabilities of Firefox beyond the default install. Normally they are scanned for malware before being uploaded onto Mozilla’s website, but apparently two of them managed to slip through Mozilla’s automated scans. The infected add-ons are Version 4.0 of Sothink Web Video Downloader and all versions of Master Filer. Mozilla has since updated their scanning process, but as part of our ongoing security watch we are vigilant in continuously protecting our customers under our Managed Services program from malware – you can rest easy. When managing your systems on your own, it’s highly advisable to be vigilant with security and always use antivirus software – even when downloading and using software from legitimate sources. If you have downloaded these Firefox add-ons, uninstalling them does not remove the trojans that they carry, and you’ll need to use antivirus software to remove any malware on their system. Need more information or help? Call us and we will be glad to assist you. Related links: Mozilla Firefox hit by malware add-ons (zdnet) Trojan Horse Mozilla Firefox Addons (the firefox extension guru’s blog) Mozilla admits Firefox add-ons contained Trojan code (sophos)

Are you using an Insecure Password?

Security firm Imperva recently released a warning to users of popular social networking website RockYou indicating that their accounts and passwords may have been compromised. According to the firm, a hacker may have accessed an alarming 32 million accounts. But what is more interesting in the wake of this news is an analysis made of the accounts and passwords stolen . From the data provided to researchers, it seems that a great number of users still use insecure passwords, such as those with six or less characters (30% of users); those confined to alpha-numeric characters (60%); or passwords including names, slang words, dictionary words, or trivial passwords such as consecutive digits, adjacent keyboard keys (50%). The most popular password? 123456. Are you using an insecure password? Let us guide you through best practices for information security. Contact us today. Related links: And the most popular password is… (zdnet) RockYou hack reveals easy-to-crack passwords ‎ (register) RockYou hack exposes names, passwords of 30M accounts (computerworld)

Chinese Hackers Exploit IE Vulnerability in a Concerted Attack – Make Sure your Browser is Protected

Early January, Google released a report detailing attacks on its infrastructure which it claimed to have originated from China. In the wake of its announcement, another report came out detailing what is purported to be an “organized espionage operation” originating from China. Known as “Operation Aurora”, the attack attempted to siphon information from 33 companies in the US, including Google. The attackers are believed to have exploited a vulnerability in Internet Explorer (IE). The vulnerability affect IE 6 Service Pack 1 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, and IE 6, IE 7, and IE 8 on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2. In the wake of the attacks Microsoft released a patch to address the vulnerability. If you are unsure if this patch has been applied to your systems, contact us for help. Related links: More Security Flaws Found in Internet Explorer (Mashable)

RealPlayer Users Beware

RealNetworks , developers of RealPlayer, a popular real-time streaming media player, recently released an advisory about vulnerabilities that when exploited could trigger remote code execution attacks. The firm reports at least 11 critical vulnerabilities that expose Windows, Mac, and Linux users to malicious hacker attacks. RealPlayer is a favorite target for malware and fraudware writers, and users are advised to download the latest software update. If you don’t use RealPlayer, you’re best advised to uninstall it immediately. Need help in making sure your applications are safe to use? Contact us today. Related links: Bogus IQ test with destructive payload in the wild (zdnet) Tor project suffers hack attack (zdnet) RealPlayer Exploit Infecting Windows Machines (eweek)

Phishing Alert for QuickBooks Customers

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR QuickBooks Customers: Intuit is receiving reports of individuals receiving fraudulent emails from QuickBooks or QuickBooks Online. The two separate emails ask customers to either download a plug in to assess their security or download a Digital Certificate. Customers should delete either of these emails. As we discover these fraudulent sites (cyber criminals often use the same email repeatedly, although they change web sites), we take them down. More at the Intuit website

Majority of firms struggle with security as new technologies are adopted

New research from the Ponemom Institute and Lumension , shows that a majority of firms are struggling to secure data as users quickly adopt new and emerging technologies such as mobile, cloud computing, and collaborative Web 2.0 technologies. The study, which surveyed IT security and IT operations practitioners, shows that many (44 percent) feel that their IT network is less secure than a year ago or that their IT security policies are insufficient in addressing the growing threats arising from the use of new technologies. Budgets are also a limiting factor, with many feeling that IT security budgets still aren’t what they need to be to fully support business objectives and security priorities. Other findings from the report: 56% said mobile devices are not secure, representing a risk to data security 49% said data security is not a strategic initiative for their company 48% said their companies have allocated insufficient resources to achieve effective data security and regulatory compliance 47% cited a lack of strong CEO support for information security efforts as a reason for ineffective data security programs 41% said there was a lack of proactive security risk management in their organization Just as large companies worldwide struggle to keep up with security, many small businesses do so even more. If you need help understanding the security implications that new technologies bring to your organization, contact us so we can help. Related articles: Companies face IT attacks in uncertain economy: Ernst & Young (newswire.ca) Keeping America’s information safe offers a secure career (techburgh.com) Cloud Security and Privacy (oreilly.com) Computer Security Challenged By Web 2.0 ‘Endpoint’ Growth (Investor’s Business Daily via Yahoo! News) (slumpedoverkeyboarddead.com)

Cyber-crime through the ACH system continues to spread

If you are using an automated clearing house (ACH) system to manage your funds, then you had better be extra careful. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned ACH users – particularly small businesses – to be on the lookout for ACH system fraud, which has already scammed as much as $100 million from unsuspecting victims. The FBI is working with the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) to determine a solution for the problem and to catch the criminals behind these multi-million dollar scams. All it takes is a seemingly harmless email to an organization’s bookkeeper or accountant to give hackers access to all their accounts. In a technique called “phishing”, these criminals send electronic correspondence laced with attachments disguised as documents or genuine applications (like an update for Windows, for example), or links to supposedly legitimate websites. Once a recipient clicks on these links or installs the software, the hacker installs a keylogging program in their system, giving them access to passwords and other sensitive account information. The siphoning off of funds happens fairly quickly. Some hackers set up ACH transfers to unaware third party groups that typically do payroll processing tasks for international companies, which in turn transfer the money overseas. Others create fake names on a payroll system which automatically siphons off money into preset accounts enrolled in a similar system. According to the FBI, the usual victims are small businesses because of their tendency to work with smaller, less secure banks. It’s the FBI’s conclusion, indicated in a report by their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), that smaller banks lack the proper security measures, which gives hackers the capacity to abuse the ACH system. “In several cases banks did not have proper firewalls installed, nor anti-virus software on their servers or their desktop computers. The lack of defense-in-depth at the smaller institution/service provider level has created a threat to the ACH system,” the IC3 report reads. More details about this story can be found here. (http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9140308/FBI_warns_of_100M_cyber_threat_to_small_business?taxonomyId=17&pageNumber=1)

Survey Shows Poor Security Awareness Among SMBs

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and  Symantec recently released the results of a survey they did as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month to assess the awareness and preparedness of small businesses (51 or fewer employees) in countering cybersecurity threats. Some notable findings: Only 28% have formal Internet security policies in place Only 25% provide even minimal Internet use/Internet security training to employees Those companies that do train spend less than 5 training hours per year on average 86% do not have an employee focused on Internet security More than 90% believe they are protected from malware and viruses However: Barely half of the businesses surveyed check their antivirus software weekly to insure they’re up to date 11% never check security tools to make sure they’re current For many, it seems, online security is simply not a top priority, falling far behind other issues such as meeting payroll and managing cash. But this is dangerous thinking, since more and more companies’ operations have become highly dependent on their IT infrastructure and the Internet for communications and business transactions. How about your business? Is it secure? Call us today and find out how we can help. Related articles: Fake security software ‘installed on millions of PCs’ (telegraph.co.uk) Celebrating National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2009 (googleblog.blogspot.com) Symantec lists “Dirtiest Web Sites” (canada.com)

Mind Your Manners! Etiquette for the Electronic Age

From the heavyset computing devices of Charles Babbage to today’s simple novelty items, electronic devices and gadgets have become smaller, more functional, and more integrated into our daily lives. With mobile phone calls, SMS, and email we are seemingly in constant need to be in touch with other people electronically. And therein lies the problem. Many people seem to put such a high priority on immediately replying to electronic communication that they often unintentionally offend the people they are actually physically with. For example, how does that colleague doing the “Blackberry Prayer” during a meeting – hunched over a handheld device, texting and emailing – make you feel? Here are a few etiquette tips when using our electronic devices: When in meetings, turn your phone off – or at least put it in silent mode. Check your messages and return calls and emails after meetings, not during them. It’s much more polite to explain to a caller or email sender that your response was delayed because you were in a meeting rather than explaining to everyone with you that the person on your phone is more important than them. If you are expecting an urgent call you must take, inform others about it before the meeting begins. When your phone vibrates, excuse yourself quietly and take the call outside. Never wear an earpiece while in a meeting. Don’t use your mobile phone or PDA while you are talking to somebody – it gives the impression that the person you are talking to is unimportant and insignificant. Loud ringtones are inappropriate for certain settings, so make sure they’re off at the right times. If you need to use speaker phone, ask the person on the other line for permission first, and announce who else is in the room with you. Many people are (understandably) uncomfortable not knowing who else may be listening to them. While in video conferences, treat the people on the other end of the line as if they were actually in the room with you. No discreet playing of Plants vs. Zombies on your iPhone while the brand manager from the other end of the line is giving his sales report – regardless of how boring it may be. Remember: electronic correspondence can never replace actual human interaction and conversation. Even though we’re in the electronic age, the old saying still applies: “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”