Category Archives: computer security

Understanding What Is Malware Analysis

What is malware analysis? This is the process involved in studying and learning how a particular malware works and what it can do. Their code can differ radically from one another, so they can have many functionalities. But the main purpose of these malicious programs is to gain information from an infected device without the user’s knowledge or authorization.

Malware Analysis Use Cases

Computer Security

One of the use cases in understanding what is malware analysis is to determine if an organization is indeed infected with a malware, its type, and impact on the network so a response team can formulate the right actions to get rid of it.

Malware Research

Understanding what and how malware works is one of the best defenses against it. This leads to the best understanding of malicious programs and what different organizations can do to implement proactive security.

Extracting Indicators of Compromise

Software solution sellers conduct malware analysis in bulk to find any new indicators of compromise, which can help an organization defend itself against potential attacks.

Four Stages of Malware Analysis

In understanding what is malware analysis, it is important to look at the four stages it undergoes.

Automated Analysis

If you find a suspicious program inside the organization’s network, the easiest way to determine if it is a threat is to make use of full-automated analysis programs. They can quickly find out the functionalities and purpose of a potential malware. While not the most comprehensive solution, it is the fastest.

Static Property Analysis

Looking at the static properties of a malware provides a more in-depth look at what it can do. This is safe because looking at the static properties does not entail running the program. This step should show elementary-level indicators of compromise.

Interactive Behavior Analysis

Placing a malicious program in an isolated laboratory allows for safe observation of what it can do. The information that an analyst gathers from this will allow them to replicate it and implement automated tools for faster and easier discovery and prevention.

Reverse Manual Coding

The most comprehensive way to understand what is malware analysis is manually reverse-engineering its code. This provides the knowledge of what the malware is, what it can do, and what the organization can implement in order to defend against it.

Also Read,

What is Malware?

Static Malware Analysis Vs Dynamic Malware Analysis

Automated Malware Analysis in the Cloud

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Dorms, Degrees, and Data Security: Prepare Your Devices for Back to School Season

With summer coming to a close, it’s almost time for back to school! Back to school season is an exciting time for students, especially college students, as they take their first steps towards independence and embark on journeys that will shape the rest of their lives. As students across the country prepare to start or return to college, we here at McAfee have revealed new findings indicating that many are not proactively protecting their academic data. Here are the key takeaways from our survey of 1,000 Americans, ages 18-25, who attend or have attended college:

Education Needs to Go Beyond the Normal Curriculum

While many students are focused on classes like biology and business management, very few get the proper exposure to cybersecurity knowledge. 80% of students have been affected by a cyberattack or know a friend or family member who has been affected. However, 43% claim that they don’t think they will ever be a victim of a cybercrime in the future.

Educational institutions are very careful to promote physical safety, but what about cyber safety? It turns out only 36% of American students claim that they have learned how to keep personal information safe through school resources. According to 42% of our respondents, they learn the most about cybersecurity from the news. To help improve cybersecurity education in colleges and universities, these institutions should take a certain level of responsibility when it comes to training students on how they can help keep their precious academic data safe from cybercriminals.

Take Notes on Device Security

Believe it or not, many students fail to secure all of their devices, opening them up to even more vulnerabilities. While half of students have security software installed on their personal computers, this isn’t the case for their tablets or smartphones. Only 37% of students surveyed have smartphone protection, and only 13% have tablet protection. What’s more, about one in five (21%) students don’t use any cybersecurity products at all.

Class Dismissed: Cyberattacks Targeting Education Are on the Rise

According to data from McAfee Labs, cyberattacks targeting education in Q1 2019 have increased by 50% from Q4 2018. The combination of many students being uneducated in proper cybersecurity hygiene and the vast array of shared networks that these students are simultaneously logged onto gives cybercriminals plenty of opportunities to exploit when it comes to targeting universities. Some of the attacks utilized include account hijacking and malware, which made up more than 70% of attacks on these institutions from January to May of 2019. And even though these attacks are on the rise, 90% of American students still use public Wi-Fi and only 18% use a VPN to protect their devices.

Become a Cybersecurity Scholar

In order to go into this school year with confidence, students should remember these security tips:

  • Never reuse passwords. Use a unique password for each one of your accounts, even if it’s for an account that doesn’t hold a lot of personal information. You can also use a password manager so you don’t have to worry about remembering various logins.
  • Always set privacy and security settings. Anyone with access to the internet can view your social media if it’s public. Protect your identity by turning your profiles to private so you can control who can follow you. You should also take the time to understand the various security and privacy settings to see which work best for your lifestyle.
  • Use the cloud with caution. If you plan on storing your documents in the cloud, be sure to set up an additional layer of access security. One way of doing this is through two-factor authentication.
  • Always connect with caution. If you need to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection, use a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your connection secure.
  • Discuss cyber safety often. It’s just as important for families to discuss cyber safety as it is for them to discuss privacy on social media. Talk to your family about ways to identify phishing scams, what to do if you may have been involved in a data breach, and invest in security software that scans for malware and untrusted sites.

And, of course, to stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Downloaded FaceApp? Here’s How Your Privacy Is Now Affected

If you’ve been on social media recently, you’ve probably seen some people in your feed posting images of themselves looking elderly. That’s because FaceApp, an AI face editor that went viral in 2017, is making a major comeback with the so-called FaceApp Challenge — where celebrities and others use the app’s old age filter to add decades onto their photos. While many folks have participated in the fun, there are some concerns about the way that the app operates when it comes to users’ personal privacy.

According to Forbes, over 100,000 million people have reportedly downloaded FaceApp from the Google Play Store and the app is the number one downloaded app on the Apple App Store in 121 different countries. But what many of these users are unaware of is that when they download the app, they are granting FaceApp full access to the photos they have uploaded. The company can then use these photos for their benefit, such as training their AI facial recognition algorithm. And while there is currently nothing to indicate that the app is taking photos for malicious intent, it is important for users to be aware that their personal photos may be used for other purposes beyond the original intent.

So, how can users enjoy the entertainment of apps like FaceApp without sacrificing their privacy? Follow these tips to help keep your personal information secure:

  • Think before you upload. It’s always best to err on the side of caution with any personal data and think carefully about what you are uploading or sharing. A good security practice is to only share personal data, including personal photos, when it’s truly necessary.
  • Update your settings. If you’re concerned about FaceApp having permission to access your photos, it’s time to assess the tools on your smartphone. Check which apps have access to information like your photos and location data. Change permissions by either deleting the app or changing your settings on your device.
  • Understand and read the terms. Consumers can protect their privacy by reading the Privacy Policy and terms of service and knowing who they are dealing with.

And, of course, to stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Watch Your Webcam: Tips to Protect Your Mac From Zoom Hackers

You’ve probably heard of the popular video conferencing platform, Zoom. This platform enables its millions of users in various locations to virtually meet face to face. In an effort to enhance user experience and work around changes in Safari 12, Zoom installed a web server that allows users to enjoy one-click-to-join meetings. Unfortunately, a security researcher recently disclosed that this product feature acts as a flaw that could allow cybercriminals to activate a Mac user’s webcam without their permission.

How exactly does this vulnerability work? Cybercriminals are able to exploit a feature that allows users to send a meeting link directly to a recipient. When the recipient clicks on the link, they are automatically launched into the video conferencing software. If the user has previously installed the Zoom app onto their Mac and hasn’t turned off their camera for meetings, Zoom will auto-join the user to a conference call with the camera on. With this flaw, an attacker can send a victim a meeting link via email message or web server, allowing them to look into a victim’s room, office, or wherever their camera is pointing. It’s important to note that even if a user has deleted the Zoom app from their device, the Zoom web server remains, making the device susceptible to this vulnerability.

While the thought of someone unknowingly accessing a user’s Mac camera is creepy, this vulnerability could also result in a Denial of Service (DoS) attack by overwhelming a user’s device with join requests. And even though this patch has been successfully patched by Zoom, it’s important for users to realize that this update is not enforced by the platform. So, how can Zoom users avoid getting sucked into a potentially malicious call? Check out these security tips to stay secure on conference calls:

  • Adjust your Zoom settings. Users can disable the setting that allows Zoom to turn your camera on when joining a meeting. This will prevent a hacker from accessing your camera if you are sent a suspicious meeting link.
  • Update, update, update. Be sure to manually install the latest Zoom update to prevent DoS or other potential attacks. Additionally, Zoom will introduce an update in July that allows users to apply video preferences from their first call to all future calls. This will ensure that if a user joins their first meeting without video, this setting will remain consistent for all other calls.

And, as usual, to stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home  on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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#Verified or Phishing Victim? 3 Tips to Protect Your Instagram Account

If you’re an avid Instagram user, chances are you’ve come across some accounts with a little blue checkmark next to the username. This little blue tick is Instagram’s indication that the account is verified. While it may seem insignificant at first glance, this badge actually means that Instagram has confirmed that the account is an authentic page of a public figure, celebrity, or global brand. In today’s world of social media influencers, receiving a verified badge is desirable so other users know you’re a significant figure on the platform. However, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the appeal of being Instagram verified as a way to convince users to hand over their credentials.

So, how do cybercriminals carry out this scheme? According to security researcher Luke Leal, this scam was distributed as a phishing page through Instagram. The page resembled a legitimate Instagram submission page, prompting victims to apply for verification. After clicking on the “Apply Now” button, victims were taken to a series of phishing forms with the domain “Instagramforbusiness[.]info.” These forms asked users for their Instagram logins as well as confirmation of their email and password credentials. However, if the victim submitted the form, their Instagram credentials would make their way into the cybercriminal’s email inbox. With this information, the cybercrooks would have unauthorized access to the victim’s social media page. What’s more, since this particular phishing scam targets a user’s associated email login, hackers would have the capability of resetting and verifying ownership of the victim’s account.

Whether you’re in search of an Instagram verification badge or not, it’s important to be mindful of your cybersecurity. And with Social Media Day right around the corner, check out these tips to keep your online profiles protected from phishing and other cyberattacks:

  • Exercise caution when inspecting links. If you examine the link used for this scam (Instagramforbusiness[.]info), you can see that it is not actually affiliated with Instagram.com. Additionally, it doesn’t use the secure HTTPS protocol, indicating that it is a risky link. Always inspect a URL before you click on it. And if you can’t tell whether a link is malicious or not, it’s best to avoid interacting with it altogether.
  • Don’t fall for phony pages. If you or a family member is in search of a verified badge for their Instagram profile, make sure they are familiar with the process. Instagram users should go into their own account settings and click on “Request on verification” if they are looking to become verified. Note that Instagram will not ask for your email or password during this process, but will send you a verification link via email instead.
  • Reset your password. If you suspect that a hacker is attempting to gain control of your account, play it safe by resetting your password.

And, as usual, to stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home  on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Process Reimaging: A Cybercrook’s New Disguise for Malware

As of early 2019, Windows 10 is running on more than 700 million devices, including PCs, tablets, phones, and even some gaming consoles. However, it turns out the widespread Windows operating system has some inconsistencies as to how it specifically determines process image file locations on disk. Our McAfee Advanced Threat Research team decided to analyze these inconsistencies and as a result uncovered a new cyberthreat called process reimaging. Similar to process doppelganging and process hollowing, this technique evades security measures, but with greater ease since it doesn’t require code injection. Specifically, this technique affects the ability for a Windows endpoint security solution to detect whether a process executing on the system is malicious or benign, allowing a cybercrook to go about their business on the device undetected.

Let’s dive into the details of this threat. Process reimaging leverages built-in Windows APIs, or application programming interfaces, which allow applications and the operating system to communicate with one another. One API dubbed K32GetProcessImageFileName allows endpoint security solutions, like Windows Defender, to verify whether an EXE file associated with a process contains malicious code. However, with process reimaging, a cybercriminal could subvert the security solution’s trust in the windows operating system APIs to display inconsistent FILE_OBJECT names and paths. Consequently, Windows Defender misunderstands which file name or path it is looking at and can no longer tell if a process is trustworthy or not. By using this technique, cybercriminals can persist malicious processes executing on a user’s device without them even knowing it.

So, the next question is — what can Windows users do to protect themselves from this potential threat? Check out these insights to help keep your device secure:

  • Update your software. Microsoft has issued a partial fix that stops cybercriminals from exploiting file names to disguise malicious code, which helps address at least part of the issue for Windows Defender only. And while file paths are still viable for exploitation, it’s worth updating your software regularly to ensure you always have the latest security patches, as this is a solid practice to work into your cybersecurity routine.
  • Work with your endpoint security vendor. To help ensure you’re protected from this threat, contact your endpoint security provider to see if they protect against process reimaging.

And, as always, to stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Bargain or Bogus Booking? Learn How to Securely Plan Summer Travel

With summertime just around the corner, families are eagerly looking to book their next getaway. Since vacation is so top-of-mind during the summer months, users are bound to come across websites offering cheap deals on flights, accommodations, and other experiences and activities. With so many websites claiming to offer these “can’t-miss deals,” how do you know who to trust?

It turns out that this is a common concern among folks looking for a little summer getaway. According to our recent survey of 8,000 people across the UK, US, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, and Singapore, 54% of respondents worry about their identity being stolen while booking and purchasing travel and accommodation online. However, 27% don’t check the authenticity of a website before booking their vacation online. Over half of these respondents say that it doesn’t cross their minds to do so.

These so-called “great deals” can be difficult to pass up. Unfortunately, 30% of respondents have been defrauded thanks to holiday travel deals that were just too good to be true. What’s more, 46.3% of these victims didn’t realize they had been ripped off until they arrived at their holiday rental to find that the booking wasn’t actually valid.

In addition to avoiding bogus bookings, users should also refrain from risky online behavior while enjoying their summer holidays. According to our survey, 44.5% of respondents are putting themselves at risk while traveling by not checking the security of their internet connection or willingly connecting to an unsecured network. 61% also stated that they never use a VPN, while 22% don’t know what a VPN is.

Unfortunately, travel-related attacks aren’t limited to just travelers either; hotels are popular targets for cybercriminals. According to analysis conducted by the McAfee Advanced Threat Research team, the most popular attack vectors are POS malware and account hijacking. Due to these attacks, eager vacationers have had their customer payment, credit card data, and personally identifiable information stolen. In order for users to enjoy a worry-free vacation this summer, it’s important that they are aware of the potential cyberthreats involved when booking their trips online and what they can do to prevent them.

We here at McAfee are working to help inform users of the risks they face when booking through unsecured or unreliable websites as well as when they’re enjoying some summertime R&R. Check out the following tips so you can enjoy your vacation without questioning the status of your cybersecurity:

  • Always connect with caution. If you need to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection, use a virtual private network (VPN) to help keep your connection secure.
  • Think before you click. Often times, cybercriminals use phishing emails or fake sites to lure consumers into clicking links for products or services that could lead to malware. If you receive an email asking you to click on a link with a suspicious URL, it’s best to avoid interacting with the message altogether.
  • Browse with security protection. Use a comprehensive security solution, like McAfee Total Protection, which includes McAfee WebAdvisor that can help identify malicious websites.
  • Utilize an identity theft solution. With all this personal data floating around online, it’s important to stay aware of any attempts to steal your identity. Use an identity theft solution, such as McAfee Identity Theft Protection, that can help protect personally identifiable information from identity theft and fraud.

And, as always, to stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Dell Laptops and Computers Found Vulnerable to Attacks

According to research, February 2019, at the University of Cambridge, it was found that many modern laptops desktop computers are vulnerable to hacking through common plug-in devices.

The research, team at the Network and Distributed Systems Security Symposium in San Diego, showed how in a matter of seconds the attackers can compromise an unattended machine through devices such as chargers and docking stations.

Vulnerabilities were found in computers with Thunderbolt ports running Windows, macOS, Linux, and FreeBSD. Many modern laptops and an increasing number of desktops are vulnerable

On May 1st ZDNet revealed how a vulnerability in the Dell SupportAssist utility exposes Dell laptops and personal computers to a remote attack that can allow hackers to execute code with admin privileges on devices using an older version of this tool and take over users’ systems.

Dell has released a patch for this security flaw on April 23; however, many users are likely to remain vulnerable unless they’ve already updated the tool –which is used for debugging, diagnostics, and Dell drivers’ auto-updates.

The number of impacted users is believed to be very high, as the SupportAssist tool is one of the apps that Dell will pre-install on all Dell laptops and computers the company ships with a running Windows OS (systems sold without an OS are not impacted).

CVE-2019-3719

According to Bill Demirkapi, a 17-year-old security researcher from the US, the Dell SupportAssist app is vulnerable to “remote code execution” vulnerability that under certain circumstances can allow attackers an easy way to hijack Dell systems.

The attack relies on luring users on a malicious web page, where JavaScript code can trick the Dell SupportAssist tool into downloading and running files from an attacker-controlled location.

Because the Dell SupportAssist tool runs as admin, attackers will have full access to targeted systems, if they manage to get themselves in the proper position to execute this attack.

ATTACK REQUIRES LAN/ROUTER COMPROMISE

“The attacker needs to be on the victim’s network in order to perform an ARP Spoofing Attack and a DNS Spoofing Attack on the victim’s machine in order to achieve remote code execution,” Demirkapi told ZDNet today in an email conversation.

This might sound hard, but it isn’t as complicated as it appears.

Two scenarios in which the attack could work include public WiFi networks or large enterprise networks where there’s at least one compromised machine that can be used to launch the ARP and DNS attacks against adjacent Dell systems running the SupportAssist tool.

Another plausible scenario is in situations where hackers have compromised the users’ local WiFi router, and are in a position to alter DNS traffic directly on the router.

As we’ve seen in the past few months, hacking routers to hijack DNS traffic isn’t a sophisticated attack anymore and is happening more and more often, mainly due to the sad state of router security.

ATTACK REQUIRES NO USER INTERACTION

Furthermore, the attack requires no user interaction except tricking users on accessing a malicious page, and the malicious JavaScript code that drives the attack can also be hidden inside ads (iframes) on legitimate sites, if ever necessary.

As Demirkapi explained to ZDNet, the iframe will point to a subdomain of dell.com, and then a DNS spoofing attack performed from an attacker-controlled machine/router will return an incorrect IP address for the dell.com domain, allowing the attacker to control what files are sent and executed by the SupportAssist tool.

The good news is that Dell took the researcher’s report seriously and has worked for the past months to patch CVE-2019-3719, a task that concluded last week with the release of SupportAssist v3.2.0.90, which Dell users are now advised to install.

Great work by Dell here to patch this vuln. Most other hardware vendors wouldn’t even have bothered to reply. Amazing finding by Bill as always. Can’t wait till he starts breaking Windows stuff,  https://t.co/hp3SA6omRb

Related Resources:

What is the Difference between a Firewall, Router & Secure Web Gateway

Important Features of Vulnerability Scanners

Hackercombat.com Presents: A Crash Course of DNS Cache Poisoning

DNS-Hijacking Malware Bypasses Antivirus and Infects Apple MacOS

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Protect Your Digital Life: Why Strong Passwords Matter

Over the years, our lives have become more and more digital. Think about it: 20 years ago, no one was using banking apps and social media had just barely begun coming to fruition. Now, many of us are reliant on mobile banking to pay our bills and we check our favorite social media platforms multiple times a day. Our lives exist almost entirely online with our sensitive personal data shielded by password protection — from our financials to our official documentation, personal photos and more. With so much of our personal data relying on the strength of our online passwords, it’s vital that users stay up-to-date on the latest password security practices. As we take the time to recognize World Password Day, it’s important to think about why passwords matter and how you’re safeguarding your personal information online.

 

 

Think about all of the online data you have that is password protected: your email, your social media accounts, your online banking profile, your movie and TV streaming service, the list goes on and on. If you aren’t following best practices for password security and just one of your passwords is exposed or breached, this could potentially lead to cybersecurity turmoil. For example, an Android app that helped users find and connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots recently left its database of more than 2 million network passwords exposed. While the app claimed to only share public hotspots, many were found to be home wireless networks thanks to the precise GPS location data that was also stored in the database. Now imagine that one of the victims of this password exposure utilized the same credentials for their online banking profile. If their password ended up in the wrong hands, a cybercriminal could potentially access the user’s financial data, leading to fraudulent charges or even identity theft. As you can see, creating a strong and unique password could mean the difference between keeping your online data safe and being at risk of a cyberattack.

Many people just go through the motions when creating passwords instead of taking the time to consider what exactly their credentials are protecting. World Password Day is the perfect opportunity to be diligent about revamping passwords. Check out the following tips to take your password security to the next level:

  • See if your passwords have been exposed. Go to a site such as HaveiBeenPwned to see if your password(s) have been compromised in a breach. Change them if you find that your credentials may have been jeopardized.
  • Layer up your passwords. Passwords should always contain a variety of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Today, many systems enforce password requirements during the account set-up process to ensure password strength.
  • Choose unique passwords across all of your accounts. Many consumers utilize the same password, or variations of it, across all of their accounts. This means if a hacker discovers just one password, all personal data is suddenly at risk. Therefore, it is crucial to diversify your passcodes to ensure hackers cannot obtain access to all of your accounts at once, should one password be compromised.
  • Use a password manager. Since it can be difficult to remember multiple complex passwords, use a password manager to keep track. With password managers, you’ll only need to remember one master password, in order to access the rest. Many password managers can also generate strong passwords to utilize when creating new logins.
  • Enable two or multi-factor authentication. Two or multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security, as it requires multiple forms of verification. This reduces the risk of successful impersonation by hackers.

And, as always, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Difference Between VPN, Firewall and the Antivirus Software

People often get confused with difference between VPN, firewall and antiviruses; they seem to be always wondering which of these security solutions they should use to ensure maximum security. Well, the answer is- use them all since they work best in unison. To understand this better, it’s necessary to know in detail how these different software function and what their uses are.

The VPN

VPN, or Virtual Private Network, helps users protect their privacy when they are online. This is done by encrypting users’ online traffic and thus protecting sensitive data and the entire communication from being seen by hackers or even surveillance agencies. The VPN, which works even when a user is on public Wi-Fi, masks the IP address, thereby giving the user some online anonymity. It also helps the user bypass geo-restrictions; thus, a user can browse websites/services that are restricted in his country or area if he uses a VPN.

The Firewall

The firewall, which is a must for any computing device, secures the system by monitoring and filtering incoming and outgoing traffic. A firewall could be a hardware device or a software device and helps block malicious programs, restrict access to unsecured websites etc. This is done by inspecting and blocking (or allowing) packets based on a certain set of predetermined rules. In fact, most OSs (operating systems) come with pre-installed firewall; if the user wants, he can configure the firewall to suit his needs. He should also remember that a firewall allows or restricts programs, services etc based on predetermined rules and hence it doesn’t have the capability to determine, by itself, what is malicious and what not. Thus, malicious files, programs or websites that are not included to be blocked wouldn’t be blocked and hence a firewall alone won’t work to secure a system. Still, firewall security is a must, for any computer system.

The Antivirus

The antivirus software, which is the very basic security software for any computing device, works by detecting, identifying and removing malicious software. In fact, though we often use the word antivirus, we’d be speaking about the antimalware software, which blocks not just viruses, but all kinds of malware- viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware etc. Based either on signature/code analysis or on behavior analysis, antiviruses identify, quarantine, analyze and remove all malware. Antivirus tools are provided by third party providers and these software need to be updated; they can, in fact, be set to update automatically. Without being updated regularly to include the latest of viruses too in its database, an antivirus tool cannot work effectively to protect a system/network against threats and attacks.

VPN Vs. Firewall Vs. Antivirus – The differences

  • A VPN, which prevents monitoring of a user’s traffic and secures data, doesn’t allow the user to establish restrictions (packet restrictions or network port restrictions) on the system in the way that a firewall does.
  • While VPNs help bypass geo-restrictions, firewalls don’t.
  • VPNs, unlike antiviruses, don’t help detect and stop malware or malicious links.
  • Antiviruses don’t help encrypt online traffic or bypass geo-restrictions the way VPNs do.
  • Firewalls can be used to block websites or programs that are already known to be malicious, but antiviruses block or identify (and then quarantine) all suspicious or malicious files or programs or websites after doing a full scan.

So, which one to use?

The answer is simple. VPNs, firewalls and antiviruses have different functions to perform and hence these tools complement each other as regards securing a computing environment. So, the best decision would be to always use a properly configured firewall plus a robust, advanced firewall, and whenever a user wants his traffic to go unmonitored, it’s best to use a VPN to protect his privacy or secure all data.

Also, Read:

5 Of The Best Free VPN Services

Free Open-Source Solution for Firewall

How to Choose a Firewall [Infographic]

Top Five Antivirus Apps for Your Android Smartphone

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Old-School Ways To Bypass Two-Factor Authentication

We regularly remind our readers to always take advantage of 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) on all web services that they are signed-up for if the option is available. All mainstream web services have an optional 2FA feature, disabled by default but can be enabled by the user. 2FA is available in Facebook, Twitter, Gmail/Google account, Microsoft account and possibly all mainstream online banking websites. Google itself uses hardware-based 2FA device, which made the company virtually immune to phishing and minimize the chance of information leak.

However, just like everything in the world, 2FA has certain weaknesses and we will guide you not to fall for tricks that takes advantage of these weaknesses:

  • Online Blackmail

Blackmailed people tend to do what the other party wish for them to do. That means that the 2FA feature is basically useless if the person is targeted and blackmailed. The information will be leaked by the very people that use the 2FA system to protect the information they hold, hence a loophole in security. It only shows that the human operator is the weakest part of any IT security policies; people who are prone to blackmail are those that have their own skeletons in the closet that the attackers know about. This is a classic example on how information can be extracted regardless of the level of security precaution and policies implemented inside the organization. It only takes one employee that fell for that blackmail to release the information that the attackers wish to have.

  • Fake 2FA apps

Fake apps are a dime-a-dozen for smartphone users who download apps outside the official app stores. This is the very reason that Apple has restricted their iOS devices to just download apps from the iTunes App Store, and it requires a significant level of knowledge to jailbreak the device to bypass this. While Google allows sideloading of Android apps, such feature is disabled by default. Fake 2FA apps are usually trojanized version of the original apps. This way, they make way for the 2FA code to reach the command and control servers within the timeframe of the useful life of the randomly generated code.

  • Social Engineering

Social Engineering is a skill for someone to successfully pull-off. With socially engineered employees information can be extracting from them, while not being aware of it. The art of persuading someone is not a skill that can be learned overnight, it requires careful preparation and a lot of practice in order to sound reasonable and believable. Any campaigns that attack human weaknesses will be able to bypass whatever technological barriers, restrictions and policies.

  • MitB Campaign

Also known as Man-in-the-middle attack, it is strongly linked with using fake apps. When the fake app runs in the background, it can monitor everything that is entered in the virtual keyboard, whatever the clipboard contains and can read any SMS stored in the device. This is enough to capture the user credentials and the 2FA code of the user if they are using the mobile device as the source of the 2FA. For those that use the PC for logging-in and the mobile device for 2FA, the chances of the attackers to receive the 2FA code on time is astronomically small. We are strongly recommending not to sideload any apps if the user can, as it is very difficult to assure that the app is clean when downloaded outside of the official app stores.

Also, Read:

The EU Knows How To Make Two-Factor Authentication Mandatory

Facebook Makes Two-Factor Authentication Easier to Set Up

The post Old-School Ways To Bypass Two-Factor Authentication appeared first on .

The “Nasty List” Phishing Scam Is out to Steal Your Instagram Login

How often do you check your social media accounts? According to a recent study, internet users spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking platforms. Since users are pretty reliant on social media, cybercriminals use it as an avenue to target victims with various cyberattacks. The latest social media scheme called “The Nasty List” scams users into giving up their Instagram credentials and uses their accounts to further promote the phishing scam.

So, how exactly do hackers trick innocent users into handing over their login information? Cybercriminals spread this scam by sending messages through hacked accounts to the user’s followers, stating that they were spotted on a “Nasty List.” These messages will read something like “OMG your actually on here, @TheNastyList_34, your number is 15! its really messed up.” If the recipient visits the profile listed in the message, they will see a link in the profile description. An example of one URL that has been listed in these scam profiles is nastylist-instatop50[.]me. The user is tricked into believing that this link will supposedly allow them to see why they are on this list. This link brings up what appears to be a legitimate Instagram login page. When the victim enters their credentials on the fake login page, the cybercriminals behind this scheme will be able to take over the account and use it to further promote the scam.

Images courtesy of Bleeping Computer.
Images courtesy of Bleeping Computer.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps Instagram users can take to ensure that they don’t fall victim to this trap. Check out the following tips:

  • Be skeptical of messages from unknown users. If you receive a message from someone you don’t know, it’s best to ignore the message altogether or block the user. Additionally, if you think a friend’s social media account has been compromised, look out for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in their message, which are common in these scams.
  • Exercise caution when inspecting links sent to your messages. Always inspect a URL before you click on it. In the case of this scam, the URL that appears with the fake login page is clearly incorrect, as it ends in a [.]me.
  • Reset your password. If your account was hacked by ‘The Nasty List’ but you still have access to your account, reset your password to regain control of your account.

And, as usual, to stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home  on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post The “Nasty List” Phishing Scam Is out to Steal Your Instagram Login appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

5 Tips For Creating Bulletproof Passwords

While biometric tools like facial ID and fingerprints have become more common when it comes to securing our data and devices, strong passwords still play an essential part in safeguarding our digital lives.

This can be frustrating at times, since many of us have more accounts and passwords than we can possibly remember. This can lead us to dangerous password practices, such as choosing short and familiar passwords, and repeating them across numerous accounts. But password safety doesn’t have to be so hard. Here are some essential tips for creating bulletproof passwords.

Remember, simple is not safe

Every year surveys find that the most popular passwords are as simple as  “1234567” and just “password.” This is great news for the cybercrooks, but really bad news for the safety of our personal and financial information.

When it comes to creating strong passwords, length and complexity matter because it makes them harder to guess, and harder to crack if the cybercriminal is using an algorithm to quickly process combinations. The alarming truth is that passwords that are just 7 characters long take less than a third of a second to crack using these “brute force attack” algorithms.

Tricks:

  • Make sure that your passwords are at least 12 characters long and include numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters.
  • Try substituting numbers and symbols for letters, such as zero for “O”, or @ for “A”.
  • If you’re using internet-connected devices, like IP cameras and interactive speakers, make sure to change the default passwords to something unique, since hackers often know the manufacturer’s default settings.

Keep it impersonal

Passwords that include bits of personal information, such as your name, address, or pet’s name, make them easier to guess. This is especially true when we share a lot of personal information online. But you can use personal preferences that aren’t well known to create strong passphrases.

Tricks:

  • Try making your password a phrase, with random numbers and characters. For instance, if you love crime novels you might pick the phrase: ILoveBooksOnCrime
    Then you would substitute some letters for numbers and characters, and put a portion in all caps to make it even stronger, such as: 1L0VEBook$oNcRIM3!
  • If you do need to use personal information when setting up security questions, choose answers that are not easy to find online.
  • Keep all your passwords and passphrases private.

Never reuse passwords

If you reuse passwords and someone guesses a password for one account, they can potentially use it to get into others. This practice has gotten even riskier over the last several years, due to the high number of corporate data breaches. With just one hack, cybercriminals can get their hands on thousands of passwords, which they can then use to try to access multiple accounts.

Tricks:

  • Use unique passwords for each one of your accounts, even if it’s for an account that doesn’t hold a lot of personal information. These too can be compromised, and if you use the same password for more sensitive accounts, they too are at risk.
  • If a website or monitoring service you use warns you that your details may have been exposed, change your password immediately.

Employ a password manager

If just the thought of creating and managing complex passwords has you overwhelmed, outsource the work to a password manager! These are software programs that can create random and complex passwords for each of your accounts, and store them securely. This means you don’t have to remember your passwords – you can simply rely on the password manager to enter them when needed.

Tricks:

  • Look for security software that includes a password manager
  • Make sure your password manager uses multi-factor authentication, meaning it uses multiple pieces of information to identify you, such as facial recognition, a fingerprint, and a password.

Boost your overall security

Now that you’ve made sure that your passwords are bulletproof, make sure you have comprehensive security software that can protect you from a wide variety of threats.

Tricks:

  • Keep you software up-to-date and consider using a web advisor that protects you from accidentally typing passwords into phishing sites.

Looking for more mobile security tips and trends? Be sure to follow @McAfee Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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Don’t Let Thunderclap Flaws Strike Your Device

If you own a Mac or PC, odds are you’ve used your laptop’s Thunderbolt port to connect another device to your machine. Thunderbolt ports are convenient for charging other devices using your laptop or desktop’s battery power. However, a new flaw called Thunderclap allows attackers to steal sensitive information such as passwords, encryption keys, financial information, or run detrimental code on the system if a malicious device is plugged into a machine’s port while it’s running.

So, how can attackers exploit this flaw? Thunderbolt accessories are granted direct-memory access (DMA), which is a method of transferring data from a computer’s random-access memory (RAM) to another part of the computer without it needing to pass through the central processing unit (CPU). DMA can save processing time and is a more efficient way to move data from the computer’s memory to other devices. However, attackers with physical access to the computer can take advantage of DMA by running arbitrary code on the device plugged into the Thunderbolt port. This allows criminals to steal sensitive data from the computer. Mind you, Thunderclap vulnerabilities also provide cybercriminals with direct and unlimited access to the machine’s memory, allowing for greater malicious activity.

Thunderclap-based attacks can be carried out with either specially built malicious peripheral devices or common devices such as projectors or chargers that have been altered to automatically attack the host they are connected to. What’s more, they can compromise a vulnerable computer in just a matter of seconds. Researchers who discovered this vulnerability informed manufacturers and fixes have been deployed, but it’s always good to take extra precautions. So, here are some ways users can defend themselves against these flaws:

  • Disable the Thunderbolt interface on your computer. To remove Thunderbolt accessibility on a Mac, go to the Network Preference panel, click “OK” on the New Interface Detected dialog, and select “Thunderbolt Bridge” from the sidebar. Click the [-] button to delete the option as a networking interface and choose “Apply.” PCs often allow users to disable Thunderbolt in BIOS or UEFI firmware settings, which connect a computer’s firmware to its operating system.
  • Don’t leave your computer unattended. Because this flaw requires a cybercriminal to have physical access to your device, make sure you keep a close eye on your laptop or PC to ensure no one can plug anything into your machine without permission.
  • Don’t borrow chargers or use publicly available charging stations. Public chargers may have been maliciously altered without your knowledge, so always use your own computer accessories.

And, as always, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post Don’t Let Thunderclap Flaws Strike Your Device appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

How Online Gamers Can Play It Safe

Online gaming has grown exponentially in recent years, and scammers have taken note. With the industry raking in over $100 billion dollars in 2017 alone[1], the opportunity to funnel some money off through fraud or theft has proven irresistible to the bad guys, leaving gamers at greater risk.

From malware and phishing scams, to phony game hacks, identity theft, and more, gamers of all stripes now face a minefield of obstacles online and in real life. So, if you’re going to play games, it’s best to play it safe.

Here’s what to look out for:

Dodgy Downloads

Gamers who play on their computer or mobile device need to watch out for dangerous links or malicious apps disguised as popular or “free” games. Hackers often use innocent-looking downloads to deliver viruses and spyware, or even sign you up for paid services, without your consent. In one prominent case, more than 2.6 million Android users downloaded fake Minecraft apps that allowed hackers to take control of their devices.

Researchers have even discovered a ransomware threat that targets gamers. TeslaCrypt was designed to encrypt game-play data until a ransom is paid. Originally distributed through a malicious website, it has since been circulating via spam.

And while it’s true that game consoles like PlayStation and Xbox aren’t as vulnerable to viruses, since they are closed systems, that doesn’t mean that their users don’t face other risks.

Social Scams

Players on any platform could wind up with malware, sent directly from other players via chat messages. Some scammers use social engineering tricks, like inviting other players to download “helpful” tools that turn out to be malware instead. When you consider that 62% of kids play games where they speak to others, the odds of a risky interaction with a stranger seems quite real.

Players of the Origin and Steam services, for instance, were targeted by hackers posing as other players, inviting them to play on their teams. Over chat message, they suggested the players download an “audio tool” that turned out to be a keystroke logger, aimed at stealing their access credentials for the game.

Other social scams include malicious YouTube videos or websites, offering game bonuses and currency, for free.

Another widespread social threat is account takeover, or ATO for short. This is when a scammer hacks a real account in order to post spammy links, and scam messages that appear to come from a trusted contact. Some accounts, for games like League of Legends, have even been stolen and sold online for money because they boasted a high level, or rare skins.

Phishing

Finally, be on the lookout for phishing websites, offering free games or bonuses, or phishy emails prompting you to login to your account, with a link leading to a copycat gaming site. Often, these are designed to steal your login credentials or distribute fake games that contain malware.

Players of the wildly popular Fortnite, for example, have been particularly targeted. The latest phishing scam is aimed at stealing the third-party sign-in tokens that allow cybercriminals to access a user’s account, and the payment details associated with it.

So now that you know about a little more about gaming threats, here’s how to win at playing it safe:

  1. Do Your Research—Before downloading any games from the Internet or app stores, make sure to read other users’ reviews first to see that they are safe. This also goes for sites that sell game hacks, credits, patches, or virtual assets typically used to gain rank within a game. Avoid illegal file-sharing sites and “free” downloads, since these are often peppered with malware. It’s always best to go for a safer, paid option from a reputable source.
  2. Play Undercover— Be very careful about sharing personal information, in both your profile information, and your chat messages. Private information, such as your full name, address, pet’s name, school, or work details, could be used to guess your account password clues, or even impersonate you. Consider playing under an alias.
  3. Be Suspicious—Since scammers use the social aspect of games to fool people, you need to keep your guard up when you receive messages from strangers, or even read reviews.
    Some YouTube and social media reviews are placed there to trick users into thinking that the game or asset is legitimate. Dig deep, and avoid looking for free hacks. Ask gamers you know in real life for recommendations that worked for them.
  4. Protect Yourself—Avoid using older versions of games, and make sure that games you do play are updated with patches and fixes. And if you think a gaming account may already have been compromised, change your passwords immediately to something unique and complex.Safeguard your computers and devices from known and emerging threats by investing in comprehensive security software, and keep yourself up-to-date on the latest scams.

Looking for more mobile security tips and trends? Be sure to follow @McAfee Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

[1]According to The 2017 Year In Review Report by SuperData

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MalBus: Popular South Korean Bus App Series in Google Play Found Dropping Malware After 5 Years of Development

McAfee’s Mobile Research team recently learned of a new malicious Android application masquerading as a plugin for a transportation application series developed by a South Korean developer. The series provides a range of information for each region of South Korea, such as bus stop locations, bus arrival times and so on. There are a total of four apps in the series, with three of them available from Google Play since 2013 and the other from around 2017. Currently, all four apps have been removed from Google Play while the fake plugin itself was never uploaded to the store. While analyzing the fake plugin, we were looking for initial downloaders and additional payloads – we discovered one specific version of each app in the series (uploaded at the same date) which was dropping malware onto the devices on which they were installed, explaining their removal from Google Play after 5 years of development.

Figure 1. Cached Google Play page of Daegu Bus application, one of the apps in series

When the malicious transportation app is installed, it downloads an additional payload from hacked web servers which includes the fake plugin we originally acquired. After the fake plugin is downloaded and installed, it does something completely different – it acts as a plugin of the transportation application and installs a trojan on the device, trying to phish users to input their Google account password and completely take control of the device. What is interesting is that the malware uses the native library to take over the device and also deletes the library to hide from detection. It uses names of popular South Korean services like Naver, KakaoTalk, Daum and SKT. According to our telemetry data, the number of infected devices was quite low, suggesting that the final payload was installed to only a small group of targets.

The Campaign

The following diagram explains the overall flow from malware distribution to device infection.

Figure 2. Device infection process

When the malicious version of the transportation app is installed, it checks whether the fake plugin is already installed and, if not, downloads from the server and installs it. After that, it downloads and executes an additional native trojan binary which is similar to the trojan which is dropped by the fake plugin. After everything is done, it connects with the C2 servers and handles received commands.

Initial Downloader

The following table shows information about the malicious version of each transportation app in the series. As the Google Play number of install stats shows, these apps have been downloaded on many devices.

Unlike the clean version of the app, the malicious version contains a native library named “libAudio3.0.so”.

Figure 3. Transportation app version with malicious native library embedded

In the BaseMainActivity class of the app, it loads the malicious library and calls startUpdate() and updateApplication().

Figure 4. Malicious library being loaded and executed in the app

startUpdate() checks whether the app is correctly installed by checking for the existence of a specific flag file named “background.png” and whether the fake plugin is installed already. If the device is not already infected, the fake plugin is downloaded from a hacked web server and installed after displaying a toast message to the victim. updateApplication() downloads a native binary from the same hacked server and dynamically loads it. The downloaded file (saved as libSound1.1.so) is then deleted after being loaded into memory and, finally, it executes an exported function which acts as a trojan. As previously explained, this file is similar to the file dropped by the fake plugin which is discussed later in this post.

Figure 5 Additional payload download servers

Fake Plugin

The fake plugin is downloaded from a hacked web server with file extension “.mov” to look like a media file. When it is installed and executed, it displays a toast message saying the plugin was successfully installed (in Korean) and calls a native function named playMovie(). The icon for the fake plugin soon disappears from the screen. The native function implemented in LibMovie.so, which is stored inside the asset folder, drops a malicious trojan to the current running app’s directory masquerading as libpng.2.1.so file. The dropped trojan is originally embedded in the LibMovie.so xor’ed, which is decoded at runtime. After giving permissions, the address of the exported function “Libfunc” in the dropped trojan is dynamically retrieved using dlsym(). The dropped binary in the filesystem is deleted to avoid detection and finally Libfunc is executed.

Figure 6 Toast message when malware is installed

In the other forked process, it tries to access the “naver.property” file on an installed SD Card, if there is one, and if it succeeds, it tries starting “.KaKaoTalk” activity which displays a Google phishing page (more on that in the next section) . The overall flow of the dropper is explained in the following diagram:

Figure 7. Execution flow of the dropper

Following is a snippet of a manifest file showing that “.KaKaoTalk” activity is exported.

Figure 8. Android Manifest defining “.KaKaoTalk” activity as exported

Phishing in JavaScript

KakaoTalk class opens a local HTML file, javapage.html, with the user’s email address registered on the infected device automatically set to log into their account.

Figure 9. KakaoTalk class loads malicious local html file

The victim’s email address is set to the local page through a JavaScript function setEmailAddress after the page is finished loading. A fake Korean Google login website is displayed:

Figure 10. The malicious JavaScript shows crafted Google login page with user account

We found the following attempts of exploitation of Google legitimate services by the malware author:

  • Steal victim’s Google account and password
  • Request password recovery for a specific account
  • Set recovery email address when creating new Google account

An interesting element of the phishing attack is that the malware authors tried to set their own email as the recovery address on Google’s legitimate services. For example, when a user clicks on the new Google account creation link in the phishing page, the crafted link is opened with the malware author’s email address as a parameter of RecoveryEmailAddress.

Figure 11. The crafted JavaScript attempts to set recovery email address for new Google account creation.

Fortunately for end users, none of the above malicious attempts are successful. The parameter with the malware author’s email address is simply ignored at the account creation stage.

Trojan

In addition to the Google phishing page, when “Libfunc” function of the trojan (dropped by the fake plugin or downloaded from the server) is executed, the mobile phone is totally compromised. It receives commands from the following hardcoded list of C2 servers. The main functionality of the trojan is implemented in a function called “doMainProc()”. Please note that there are a few variants of the trojanwith different functionality but, overall, they are pretty much the same.

Figure 12. Hardcoded list of C2 servers

The geolocation of hardcoded C2 servers lookslike the following:

Figure 13. Location of C2 Servers

Inside doMainProc(), the trojan receives commands from the C2 server and calls appropriate handlers. Part of the switch block below gives us an idea of what type of commands this trojan supports.

Figure 14. Subset of command handlers implemented in the dropped trojan.

As you can see, it has all the functionality that a normal trojan has. Downloading, uploading and deleting files on the device, leaking information to a remote server and so on. The following table explains supported C2 commands:

Figure 15. C2 Commands

Before entering the command handling loop, the trojan does some initialization, like sending device information files to the server and checking the UID of the device. Only after the UID checking returns a 1 does it enter the loop.

Figure 16 Servers connected before entering command loop

Among these commands, directory indexing in particular is important. The directory structure is saved in a file named “kakao.property” and while indexing the given path in the user device, it checks the file with specific keywords and if it matches, uploads the file to the remote upload server. These keywords are Korean and its translated English version is as per the following table:

Figure 17 Search file keywords

By looking at the keywords we can anticipate that the malware authors were looking for files related to the military, politics and so on. These files are uploaded to a separate server.

Figure 18 Keyword matching file upload server

Conclusion

Applications can easily trick users into installing them before then leaking sensitive information. Also, it is not uncommon to see malware sneaking onto the official Google Play store, making it hard for users to protect their devices. This malware has not been written for ordinary phishing attempts, but rather very targeted attacks, searching the victim’s devices for files related to the military and politics, likely trying to leak confidential information. Users should always install applications that they can fully trust even though they are downloaded from trusted sources.

McAfee Mobile Security detects this threat as Android/MalBus and alerts mobile users if it is present, while protecting them from any data loss. For more information about McAfee Mobile Security, visit https://www.mcafeemobilesecurity.com.

Hashes (SHA-256)

Initial Downloader (APK)
• 19162b063503105fdc1899f8f653b42d1ff4fcfcdf261f04467fad5f563c0270
• bed3e665d2b5fd53aab19b8a62035a5d9b169817adca8dfb158e3baf71140ceb
• 3252fbcee2d1aff76a9f18b858231adb741d4dc07e803f640dcbbab96db240f9
• e71dc11e8609f6fd84b7af78486b05a6f7a2c75ed49a46026e463e9f86877801

Fake Plugin (APK)
• ecb6603a8cd1354c9be236a3c3e7bf498576ee71f7c5d0a810cb77e1138139ec
• b8b5d82eb25815dd3685630af9e9b0938bccecb3a89ce0ad94324b12d25983f0

Trojan (additional payload)
• b9d9b2e39247744723f72f63888deb191eafa3ffa137a903a474eda5c0c335cf
• 12518eaa24d405debd014863112a3c00a652f3416df27c424310520a8f55b2ec
• 91f8c1f11227ee1d71f096fd97501c17a1361d71b81c3e16bcdabad52bfa5d9f
• 20e6391cf3598a517467cfbc5d327a7bb1248313983cba2b56fd01f8e88bb6b9

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Customer Support Scams Are Popping up in Social Media Ads: How to Stay Secure

Many of us rely on customer support websites for navigating new technology. Whether it’s installing a new piece of software or troubleshooting a computer program, we look to customer support to save the day. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are leveraging our reliance on customer support pages to access our personal information for financial gain. It appears that a malicious website is attempting to trick users into handing over their McAfee activation keys and personally identifiable information (PII) data by disguising themselves as the official McAfee customer support website.

So how exactly does this cyberthreat work? First, malicious actors advertise the fake website on Twitter. If a user clicks on the ad, they are presented with a “Download McAfee” button. When the user clicks on the download button, they are redirected to a screen prompting them to enter their name, email address, contact number, and product activation key to proceed with the download. However, when the user clicks on the “Start Download” button, they are redirected to a screen stating that their download failed due to an unexpected error.

 

At this point, the site owner has received the user’s personal data, which they could exploit in a variety of ways. And while this scheme may seem tricky to spot, there are a number of ways users can defend themselves from similar scams:

  • Be vigilant when clicking on social media links. Although it may be tempting to click on advertisements on your social media feed, these ads could possibly house sketchy websites developed by cybercriminals. Use caution when interacting with social media ads.
  • Go straight to the source. If you come across an advertisement claiming to be from a company and the link asks for personal data, it’s best to go directly to the company’s website instead. Use the official McAfee customer support page if you require technical support or assistance with your McAfee product.
  • Use security software. A security solution like McAfee WebAdvisor can help you spot suspicious websites and protect you from accidentally clicking on malicious links.

And, as always, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Children’s Charity or CryptoMix? Details on This Ransomware Scam

As ransomware threats become more sophisticated, the tactics cybercriminals use to coerce payments from users become more targeted as well. And now, a stealthy strain is using deceptive techniques to mask its malicious identity. Meet CryptoMix ransomware, a strain that disguises itself as a children’s charity in order to trick users into thinking they’re making a donation instead of a ransom payment. While CryptoMix has used this guise in the past, they’ve recently upped the ante by using legitimate information from crowdfunding pages for sick children to further disguise this scheme.

So, how does CryptoMix trick users into making ransom payments? First, the victim receives a ransom note containing multiple email addresses to contact for payment instructions. When the victim contacts one of the email addresses, the “Worldwide Children Charity Community” responds with a message containing the profile of a sick child and a link to the One Time Secret site. This website service allows users to share a post that can only be read once before it’s deleted. CryptoMix’s developers use One Time Secret to distribute payment instructions to the victim and explain how their contribution will be used to provide medical help to sick children. The message claims that the victim’s data will be restored, and their system will be protected from future attacks as soon as the ransom is paid. In order to encourage the victim to act quickly, the note also warns that the ransom price could double in the next 24 hours.

After the victim makes the payment, the ransomware developers send the victim a link to the decryptor. However, they continue to pretend they are an actual charity, thanking the victim for their contribution and ensuring that a sick child will soon receive medical help.

CryptoMix’s scam tactics show how ransomware developers are evolving their techniques to ensure they make a profit. As ransomware threats become stealthier and more sophisticated, it’s important for users to educate themselves on the best techniques to combat these threats. Check out the following tips to help keep your data safe from ransomware:

  • Back up your data. In order to avoid losing access to your important files, make copies of them on an external hard drive or in the cloud. In the event of a ransomware attack, you will be able to wipe your computer or device and reinstall your files from the backup. Backups can’t always prevent ransomware, but they can help mitigate the risks.
  • Never pay the ransom. Although you may feel that this is the only way to get your encrypted files back, there is no guarantee that the ransomware developers will send a decryption tool once they receive the payment. Paying the ransom also contributes to the development of more ransomware families, so it’s best to hold off on making any payments.
  • Use security software. Adding an extra layer of security with a solution such as McAfee Total Protection, which includes Ransom Guard, can help protect your devices from these types of cyberthreats.

And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Preventing Cryptojacking Malware with McAfee WebAdvisor’s New Cryptojacking Blocker

By now, you’ve probably heard of cryptocurrency, but you may not know exactly what it is. To put it simply, cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies that have actual monetary value in today’s world. They are limited entries of transactions into a single database, or public ledger, that can’t be changed without fulfilling certain conditions. These transactions are verified and added to the public ledger through cryptocurrency mining. Cryptocurrency miners try to make money by compiling these transactions into blocks and solving complicated mathematical problems to compete with other miners for the cryptocurrency. While this process of mining for cryptocurrencies can be lucrative, it requires large amounts of computing power.

Unfortunately, the need for massive amounts of hardware has provoked cybercriminals to participate in cryptojacking, a method of using malware to exploit victims’ computers to mine for cryptocurrencies. Cybercrooks spread cryptojacking malware through sketchy mobile apps, flawed software, and malware-infected ads. They can even cryptojack your device during a browsing session while you’re perusing a website that appears completely harmless. Once a user’s device becomes infected, the malware drains the device’s CPU, causing the user’s computer fan to be loud while the malware mines for cryptocurrencies in the background. Unfortunately, symptoms of cryptojacking are usually pretty subtle, with poor device performance being one of the few signs of its presence.

Thankfully, McAfee WebAdvisor is here to help. This security solution, which helps block users from malware and phishing attempts, now includes Cryptojacking Blocker. This enhancement is a Windows-based browser add-on available for Google Chrome that helps stop malicious websites from mining for cryptocurrency. So far, our direct and retail McAfee WebAdvisor customers have already started receiving the update that adds Cryptojacking Blocker to their product, and the customers who have WebAdvisor through other partners should begin to see this update roll out during Q1. The same thing goes for those who own McAfee LiveSafe and McAfee Total Protection. Additionally, we’re aiming to add support for Firefox in the coming months. And if you don’t already have WebAdvisor, you can download it for free on our website, with Cryptojacking Blocker included in your download.

In addition to using a security solution like McAfee WebAdvisor, here are some other general tips to help you stay safe online:

  • Create a strong, unique password. Although it may be easier to remember, reusing passwords across multiple accounts puts all of your data at risk even if just one of your accounts is breached. Choosing a complex password for each individual online account will act as a stronger first line of defense. You can also use a password manager so all of your credentials are consolidated into one place.
  • Be careful where you click. If you come across a website that seems sketchy or notice that the URL address looks odd, avoid interacting with the site entirely. Stick to browsing websites you know are reputable.
  • Update, update, update! Cybercriminals can take advantage of old software to spread cryptojacking malware. Keeping your software updated with the latest patches and security fixes can help you combat this threat.

And, as always, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post Preventing Cryptojacking Malware with McAfee WebAdvisor’s New Cryptojacking Blocker appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Level Up Your Cybersecurity: Insights from Our Gaming Survey

Online gaming has seen a rise in popularity over the years. Many people see it as a way to unwind from a stressful day or complete new challenges. However, just like any other internet-connected channel, online gaming can expose users to a variety of cybersecurity risks. So, to examine the relationship between cybersecurity and gaming, we decided to survey 1,000 U.S. residents ages 18 and over who are frequent gamers. *

Time to Upgrade Your Online Safety

Of those surveyed, 75% of PC gamers chose security as the element that most concerned them about the future of gaming. This makes sense since 64% of our respondents either have or know someone who has been directly affected by a cyberattack. And while 83% of the gamers do use an antivirus software to protect their PCs, we found that gamers still participate in risky online behavior.

Poor Habits Could Mean Game Over for Your Cybersecurity

So, what does this risky behavior look like, exactly? The following sums it up pretty well:

  • 55% of gamers reuse passwords for multiple online accounts, leading to greater risk if their password is cracked.
  • 36% of respondents rely on incognito mode or private browsing to keep their PC safe.
  • 41% read the privacy policies associated with games, though this technique won’t help to keep their device secure.

With these lax habits in place, it’s not hard to believe that 38% of our respondents experienced at least one malicious attack on their PC. And while 92% installed an antivirus software after experiencing a cyberattack, it’s important for gamers to take action against potential threats before they occur.

Level Up Your Gaming Security

Now the question is – what do these gamers need to do to stay safe while they play? Start by following these tips:

  • Do not reuse passwords. Reusing passwords makes it easier for hackers to access more than one of your accounts if they crack one of your logins. Prevent this by using unique login credentials for all of your accounts.
  • Click with caution. Avoid interacting with messages from players you don’t know and don’t click on suspicious links. Cybercriminals can use phishing emails to send gamers malicious files and links that can infect their device with malware.
  • Use a security solution. Using a security service to safeguard your devices can help protect you from a variety of threats that can disrupt your gaming experience. Look out for our newest product McAfee Gamer Security, which we launched just in time for CES 2019. Although this product is still in beta mode, it could be used to combat cyberthreats while optimizing your computing resources.

And, as always, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

*Survey respondents played video games at least four times a month and spent at least $200 annually on gaming.

The post Level Up Your Cybersecurity: Insights from Our Gaming Survey appeared first on McAfee Blogs.