Category Archives: Mobile Security

All the reasons why cybercriminals want to hack your phone

When people think of hacking, most imagine desktop computers, laptops, or perhaps even security cameras. However, in recent years, cybercriminals have expanded their repertoire to include smartphones, too. Here are 10 reasons why they may be looking to hack your phone.

1. To infect it with malware

Many smartphone users assume they can stay safe from malware and other threats by installing antivirus apps on their phones and being extra careful about the websites they visit. They typically don’t expect their phones to have malware out of the box. However, researchers showed that’s what happened with more than three dozen Android models, typically from lesser-known brands.

The phones had Trojan malware installed on them before they reached users, and the culprit appeared to be a software vendor in Shanghai that was a shared reseller for a brand of antivirus software. Although it’s not clear what the hackers wanted to do after infecting the phones, the malware was particularly hard to remove. Often, it involved fully reinstalling the operating system.

2. To eavesdrop on calls

People use their phones to speak to loved ones, discuss business plans, talk about their travels—all manner of personal, intimate content. So, it’s not surprising that criminals would want to break in and listen, whether to case a target or simply for voyeuristic pleasure. But how do they do it?

There’s a flaw in US cellular exchange, the vulnerability known as SS7, which allows hackers to listen to calls, read texts, and see users’ locations after learning their phone numbers. Even though US agencies know about the issue, they haven’t taken decisive action to fix it, leaving Americans’ phone privacy at risk.

3. To steal money

Ransomware attacks cause headaches for computer users by making the affected machines lock up or holding files hostage until people pay the ransom to restore access. Even then, paying doesn’t guarantee a return to proper functionality. Ransomware doesn’t only affect computers, though. There’s a recent trend of mobile ransomware, which often originates from malicious, third-party apps.

In one example, a third-party app promised to optimize the Android system but actually tricked people into transferring $1,000 from their PayPal accounts. The login process was legitimate, so it wasn’t a phishing attempt. However, once people logged in, a Trojan automated the PayPal transfer.

4. To blackmail people

The crime of blackmail isn’t new, but threat actors recognize that the small computer in people’s pockets and purses likely has more personal information stored in it than a desktop or laptop. And they are able to first cut people off from accessing their phones before then threatening to leak the information they find.

Criminals may start the hack after obtaining some personal information from a victim that available on the black market due to a previous, unrelated breach. They then use that information to contact the victim’s phone company and pose as the user, saying that they want to transfer the number to a new phone. Phone companies often provide such services and can automatically transfer information, including phone numbers, to a new device. The trouble is that in this case, the old phone still works but it’s useless to the person who owns it.

After hackers take over a phone in this way, the stage is set for more serious crimes—blackmail among them. If a person had essential numbers in their phone not backed up elsewhere, they could easily feel pressured to cave into hackers’ demands to avoid worse consequences.

5. To damage your phone

Hackers feel they’ve accomplished a goal by causing chaos for victims. One way to do that is to make the phone overheat and ultimately ruin it. Security researchers warned that hackers could break into a phone’s processor and use it for mining cryptocurrency. In addition to making the phone slow down, it can also cause the phone to get too hot or even blow up!

There are many reliable cooling devices used in cell phones for temperature management, even “intelligent” temperature management solutions that heat up your phone’s battery when it’s too cool and cool it down when it’s too hot. However, if hackers have their way, even those normally sufficient internal components could fail to keep the device cool enough.

One type of the cryptomining malware called Loapi is often hidden in apps that appear as downloadable games. Security researchers ran a test and found it actually made a phone battery bulge due to excessive heat after only two days.

6. To threaten national security

Countless analysts have chimed in to say that President Trump’s alleged use of insecure mobile devices could help foreign adversaries glean information about the United States that could threaten the nation or at least give information about the president’s intended actions.

In 2018, Billy Long, a Republican congressman, had his mobile phone and Twitter account hacked. Cybercriminals know that one of the primary ways politicians interact with followers is through social media.

Besides threatening national security more directly, these hackers could erode the trust politicians have built with their audiences, especially with fake posts that seem to come from the genuine account owners.

Cybercriminals know that by hacking the mobile phones and social media accounts of politicians, they are contributing to the overall public opinion that politicians cannot be trusted. Instead of looking to the source for information, users might instead look for news via sources that are even less reliable or strategically crafted to spread fake news.

7. For fun or notoriety

Some hackers get a thrill by successfully pulling off their attacks. Hacking is a source of entertainment for them, as well as an ego boost. If money isn’t the primary motivator for cybercriminals, then notoriety is might be a close second. Hackers may get into phones because it’s a newer challenge that might require more cutting-edge malware development techniques. Ultimately, many cybercriminals want approval from others in the industry and desire their respect.

8. To get payment information

E-wallets, which store payment information inside smartphone apps so people don’t have to carry real credit or debit cards, are convenient. However, their rising popularity has given hackers another reason to target phones.

Often, cybercriminals entice people to download fake mobile payment apps (of course believing they are real). Then, once people enter their payment information, hackers have the information needed to charge transactions to the cards.

9. Because so many people use it

Since hackers want their attacks to have significant payoffs, they know they can up their chances of having a major impact by targeting smartphones. Information published by the Pew Research Center shows 95 percent of Americans own smartphones. To put that in perspective, only 35 percent of the population did in 2011, when the organization first conducted a survey on smartphone ownership.

Also, different research from another organization reveals that mobile Internet usage is overtaking desktop time. People are becoming increasingly comfortable with using their smartphones to go online, browse, and even shop. As such, no matter what kind of hack cybercriminals orchestrate, they can find plenty of victims by focusing on smartphone users.

10. Because it’s an easy target

Research shows that mobile apps have rampant security problems. This gives criminals ample opportunity to infiltrate insecure apps rather than the phones themselves.

In one case, about 40 of the top 50 shopping apps had at least a few high-level security vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to see personal information or deceive users by luring them to dangerous apps that were copies of the originals.

Further research about problematic dating apps found that many of them give third parties access to unencrypted data through vulnerable software development kits (SDKs). Hackers know some apps achieve hundreds of thousands, or even millions. of downloads. If they can break into them, they’ll get fast access to the phones that have those apps installed and the people who use them.

How to stay protected

These examples show that hackers have a myriad of reasons to hack phones and even more ways to make it happen. One easy way to protect against attacks is to avoid third-party app stores and only download content from the phone’s legitimate app stores, such as Google Play or iTunes. However, threat actors can penetrate those platforms, too, and many an infected or rogue app has made its way through.

It’s also smart to keep tabs on phone statistics, such as battery life and the number of running apps. If those deviate too much from the norm, that’s a sign hackers may be up to no good in the background.

Running a mobile antivirus scan at least monthly, or installing an always-on cybersecurity program is another good strategy, but only if the application comes from a trustworthy source, such as the vendor’s official site.

Instead of being overeager to download new apps, people should ideally exercise caution and only do so if numerous sources of feedback indicate they are free from major security flaws. Some app development companies are in such a hurry to get to the market with their latest offerings that they do not make security a priority.

Besides these more specific tips, it’s essential for people to be highly aware of how they interact with their phones. For example, strange pop-ups or redirects in a phone’s browser, or random icons appearing without having downloaded a new app could indicate problems, and individuals should not assume that everything’s okay. When in doubt, it’s best to stop using the phone and get some answers—before hackers learn all they need to know about you.

The post All the reasons why cybercriminals want to hack your phone appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

SecurityWeek RSS Feed: ‘No Evidence’ of Huawei Spying, Says German IT Watchdog

Germany's IT watchdog has expressed scepticism about calls for a boycott of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, saying it has seen no evidence the firm could use its equipment to spy for Beijing, news weekly Spiegel reported Friday.

read more



SecurityWeek RSS Feed

Stay on Top of Zero-Day Malware Attacks With Smart Mobile Threat Defense

The mobile threat landscape is a dynamic ecosystem in perpetual motion. Cybercriminals are constantly renewing their attack techniques to access valuable data, challenging the capabilities of traditional mobile security solutions. Mobile threat defense technology was conceived to tackle the onslaught of cyberthreats targeting enterprise mobility that standard security solutions have failed to address. Some security experts even note that emerging mobile threats can only be countered with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, both of which are essential to any reliable protection strategy.

Data Exfiltration Is a Serious Threat

Pradeo’s most recent mobile security report found that 59 percent of Android and 42 percent of iOS applications exfiltrate the data they manipulate. Most mobile applications that leak data are not malicious, as they don’t feature any malware. They operate by silently collecting as much data as they can and sending that data over networks, sometimes to unverified servers. The harmful aspect of these apps resides in the fact that they seem perfectly safe to the security checks of marketplaces such as Google Play and App Store, and as a result, these platforms feature many such apps.

Zero-Day Malware Is Growing at a Fast Pace

There are two main categories of malware: the type that has a recognizable viral signature that is included in virus databases, and the zero-day type that features new, uncategorized behaviors. Researchers at Pradeo observed a 92 percent increase in the amount of zero-day malware detected between January and June 2018 on the mobile devices the company secures, compared to a 1 percent increase in known malware. These figures demonstrate how threat actors are constantly renewing their efforts with new techniques to overcome existing security measures.

Enhance Your Mobile Threat Defense With AI

Mobile threats such as leaky apps and zero-day malware are growing both in number and severity. Antivirus and score-based technologies can no longer detect these threats because they rely on viral databases and risk estimations, respectively, without being able to clearly identify behaviors.

To protect their data, organizations need mobile security solutions that automatically replicate the accuracy of manual analysis on a large scale. To precisely determine the legitimacy of certain behaviors, it’s essential to take into consideration the context and to correlate it with security facts. Nowadays, only AI has the capacity to enable a mobile threat defense solution with this level of precision by putting machine learning and deep learning into practice. With these capabilities, undeniable inferences can be drawn to efficiently counter current and upcoming threats targeting enterprise mobility.

Read the 2018 Mobile Security Report from Pradeo

The post Stay on Top of Zero-Day Malware Attacks With Smart Mobile Threat Defense appeared first on Security Intelligence.

Android Malware Steals from PayPal Accounts

What happens when you combine a remotely controlled banking Trojan with an abuse of Android Accessibility services? According to new research from ESET, you get an Android Trojan that steals money from

The post Android Malware Steals from PayPal Accounts appeared first on The Cyber Security Place.

I Miss The 000000ld Kanye: West Tops Dashlane’s List of 2018’s “Worst Password Offenders”.

Dashlane today announced its third annual list of the “Worst Password Offenders.” The list highlights the high-profile individuals and organizations that had the most significant password-related blunders in 2018.

“Passwords are the first line of defense against cyberattacks,” said Emmanuel Schalit, CEO of Dashlane. “Weak passwords, reused passwords, and poor organizational password management can easily put sensitive information as risk.”

Dashlane found that the average internet user has over 200 digital accounts that require passwords, and the company projects this figure to double to 400 in the next five years. “The sheer number of accounts requiring passwords means everyone is prone to make the same mistakes as the Password Offenders,” states Schalit. “We hope our list serves as a wake-up call to everyone to follow the best password security practices.”

Dashlane’s “Worst Password Offenders” of 2018, beginning with the worst:

Kanye West: Kanye is no stranger to controversy and attained even more notoriety this year when he was captured unlocking his iPhone with the passcode “000000” during his infamous meeting at the White House. Having a weak passcode is risky enough, but brazenly flaunting poor password practices in a room full of TV cameras is as bad as it gets. To put it gently, Kanye needs to lockdown his passwords and make them better, faster, stronger.

The Pentagon: It’s a shame that the Department of Defense holds the #2 spot this year (up two spots from #4 in last year’s list), but a devastating audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found numerous cybersecurity vulnerabilities in several of the Pentagon’s systems. Among the disturbing issues was that a GAO audit team was able to guess admin passwords in just nine seconds, as well as the discovery that software for multiple weapons systems was protected by default passwords that any member of the public could have found through a basic Google search.

Cryptocurrency owners: As the value of cryptocurrencies reached record levels at the beginning of the year, scores of crypto owners had the potential to cash out—if they could remember their passwords. The news cycle was rife with reports of people resorting to desperate measures (including hiring hypnotists) to attempt to recover/remember the forgotten passwords to their digital wallets.

Nutella: Nutella came under fire for giving some of the nuttiest password advice of the year as the beloved hazelnut-and-chocolate spread company encouraged its Twitter followers to use “Nutella” as their password. As if the advice wasn’t bad enough, the company sent out the ill-advised tweet to celebrate World Password Day.

U.K. Law Firms: Researchers in the United Kingdom found over one million corporate email and password combinations from 500 of the country’s top law firms available on the dark web. Making matters worse, most of the credentials were stored in plaintext.

Texas: Everything is bigger in Texas, including the cybersecurity gaffes. The Lone Star State left over 14 million voter records exposed on a server that wasn’t password protected. This blunder meant that sensitive personal information from 77% of the state’s registered voters, including addresses and voter history, was left vulnerable.

White House Staff: Last year, two White House officials made our list: President Trump took the (un)coveted title of 2017’s Worst Password Offender for a variety of poor cybersecurity habits, while Sean Spicer was included for tweeting his password. This year they passed the baton to another staffer who made the mistake of writing down his email login and password on official White House stationery. This mistake was exacerbated as he accidentally left the document at a Washington, D.C. bus stop.

Google: The search engine giant has historically been buttoned up in terms of cybersecurity, but this year, an engineering student from Kerala, India hacked one of their pages and got access to a TV broadcast satellite. The student didn’t even need to guess or hack credentials; he logged in to the Google admin pages on his mobile device in using a blank username and password.

United Nations: The organization tasked with maintaining international peace has a security problem. U.N. staff were using Trello, Jira, and Google Docs to collaborate on projects, but forgot to password protect many of their documents. This meant anyone with the correct link could access secret plans, international communications, and plaintext passwords.

University of Cambridge: A plaintext password left on GitHub allowed anyone to access the data of millions of people being studied by the university’s researchers. The data was being extracted from the Facebook quiz app myPersonality and contained the personal details of Facebook users, including intimate answers to psychological tests.

Learn from the mistakes of this year’s Password Offenders:

1. Password protect all accounts: Whether it’s a server, email account, or an app, you should always secure your data with passwords as they’re the first, and often only, line of defense between hackers and your personal information.

2. Use strong passwords: Never use passwords that are easy to guess or that contain names, proper nouns, or things people can easily research about you—like your favorite hazelnut spread! All your passwords should be longer than eight characters and include a mix of random letters, numbers, and symbols. Even better, use a password generator to come up with them for you.

3. Never reuse passwords: Every one of your accounts needs a unique password. The risk in password reuse is that hackers can use passwords from compromised accounts to easily access other accounts. The only protection against this is to have a different password for every account.

About Dashlane

Dashlane simplifies and secures your digital identity—all your personal information that lives online. Across all platforms and devices, the intuitive Dashlane app automatically fills and stores passwords, personal data, and payment details to help you manage, monitor, and protect your digital identity. Available in 11 languages and trusted by 10+ million people in 180 countries (and growing), it’s the complete, global solution for living safely and seamlessly online—at home, at work, and everywhere in between.

With offices in New York City, Paris, and Lisbon, Dashlane has raised over $70 million in venture funding to create a safe and effortless solution for all citizens of the digital world. Learn more at dashlane.com.

The post I Miss The 000000ld Kanye: West Tops Dashlane’s List of 2018’s “Worst Password Offenders”. appeared first on IT Security Guru.

McAfee Blogs: How To Tell If Your Smartphone Has Been Hacked

Your home screen is just a matrix of numbers. Your device loses its charge quickly, or restarts suddenly. Or, you notice outgoing calls that you never dialed. Chances are your smartphone has been hacked. The sad truth is that hackers now have a multitude of ways to get into your phone, without ever touching it.

Given that our smartphones have become our new wallets, containing a treasure trove of personal and financial information, a breach can leave you at serious risk.

The intruder could log in to your accounts as you, spam your contacts with phishing attacks, or rack up expensive long-distance charges. They could also access any passwords saved on your phone, potentially opening the door to sensitive financial accounts. That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize when your smartphone has been hacked, especially since some of the signs can be subtle.

Here are some helpful clues:

Performance Differences

Is your device operating slower, are web pages and apps harder to load, or does your battery never seem to keep a charge? What about your data plan? Are you exceeding your normal limits? These are all signs that you have malware running in the background, zapping your phone’s resources.

You may have downloaded a bad app, or clicked on a dangerous link in a text message. And malware, like Bitcoin miners, can strain computing power, sometimes causing the phone to heat up, even when you aren’t using it.

Mystery Apps or Data

If you find apps you haven’t downloaded, or calls, texts, and emails that you didn’t send, a hacker is probably in your system. They may be using your device to send premium rate calls or messages, or to spread malware to your contacts.

Pop-ups or Strange Screen Savers

Malware can also be behind spammy pop-ups, changes to your home screen, or bookmarks to suspicious websites. In fact, if you see any configuration changes you didn’t personally make, this is another big clue that your smartphone has been hacked.

What To Do

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, it’s time to take action. Start by deleting any apps or games you didn’t download, erasing risky messages, and running mobile security software, if you have it. Warn your contacts that your phone has been compromised, and to ignore any suspicious links or messages coming from you.

If the problem still doesn’t go away, consider restoring your phone to its original settings. Search online for instructions for your particular phone and operating system to learn how.

Now, let’s look at how to avoid getting hacked in the first place.

Secure Smartphone Tips

1. Use mobile security software—These days your smartphone is just as data rich as your computer. Make sure to protect your critical information, and your privacy, by using comprehensive mobile security software that not only protects you from online threats, but offers anti-theft and privacy protection.

2. Lock your device & don’t store passwords—Make sure that you are using a passcode or facial ID to lock your device when you’re not using it. This way, if you lose your phone it will be more difficult for a stranger to access your information.

Also, remember not to save password or login information for banking apps and other sensitive accounts. You don’t want a hacker to be able to automatically login as you if they do gain access to your device.

3. Avoid using public Wi-Fi—Free Wi-Fi networks, like those offered in hotels and airports, are often unsecured. This makes it easy for a hacker to potentially see the information you are sending over the network. Also, be wary of using public charging stations, unless you choose a “charging only” cable that cannot access your data.

 4. Never leave your device unattended in public—While many threats exist online, you still have to be aware of real-world threats, like someone grabbing your device when you’re not looking. Keep your smartphone on you, or within view, while in public.

If you have a “phone visibility” option, turn it off. This setting allows nearby devices to see your phone and exchange data with it.

5. Stay aware—New mobile threats are emerging all the time. Keep up on the latest scams and warning signs, so you know what to look out for.

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

The post How To Tell If Your Smartphone Has Been Hacked appeared first on McAfee Blogs.



McAfee Blogs

How To Tell If Your Smartphone Has Been Hacked

Your home screen is just a matrix of numbers. Your device loses its charge quickly, or restarts suddenly. Or, you notice outgoing calls that you never dialed. Chances are your smartphone has been hacked. The sad truth is that hackers now have a multitude of ways to get into your phone, without ever touching it.

Given that our smartphones have become our new wallets, containing a treasure trove of personal and financial information, a breach can leave you at serious risk.

The intruder could log in to your accounts as you, spam your contacts with phishing attacks, or rack up expensive long-distance charges. They could also access any passwords saved on your phone, potentially opening the door to sensitive financial accounts. That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize when your smartphone has been hacked, especially since some of the signs can be subtle.

Here are some helpful clues:

Performance Differences

Is your device operating slower, are web pages and apps harder to load, or does your battery never seem to keep a charge? What about your data plan? Are you exceeding your normal limits? These are all signs that you have malware running in the background, zapping your phone’s resources.

You may have downloaded a bad app, or clicked on a dangerous link in a text message. And malware, like Bitcoin miners, can strain computing power, sometimes causing the phone to heat up, even when you aren’t using it.

Mystery Apps or Data

If you find apps you haven’t downloaded, or calls, texts, and emails that you didn’t send, a hacker is probably in your system. They may be using your device to send premium rate calls or messages, or to spread malware to your contacts.

Pop-ups or Strange Screen Savers

Malware can also be behind spammy pop-ups, changes to your home screen, or bookmarks to suspicious websites. In fact, if you see any configuration changes you didn’t personally make, this is another big clue that your smartphone has been hacked.

What To Do

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, it’s time to take action. Start by deleting any apps or games you didn’t download, erasing risky messages, and running mobile security software, if you have it. Warn your contacts that your phone has been compromised, and to ignore any suspicious links or messages coming from you.

If the problem still doesn’t go away, consider restoring your phone to its original settings. Search online for instructions for your particular phone and operating system to learn how.

Now, let’s look at how to avoid getting hacked in the first place.

Secure Smartphone Tips

1. Use mobile security software—These days your smartphone is just as data rich as your computer. Make sure to protect your critical information, and your privacy, by using comprehensive mobile security software that not only protects you from online threats, but offers anti-theft and privacy protection.

2. Lock your device & don’t store passwords—Make sure that you are using a passcode or facial ID to lock your device when you’re not using it. This way, if you lose your phone it will be more difficult for a stranger to access your information.

Also, remember not to save password or login information for banking apps and other sensitive accounts. You don’t want a hacker to be able to automatically login as you if they do gain access to your device.

3. Avoid using public Wi-Fi—Free Wi-Fi networks, like those offered in hotels and airports, are often unsecured. This makes it easy for a hacker to potentially see the information you are sending over the network. Also, be wary of using public charging stations, unless you choose a “charging only” cable that cannot access your data.

 4. Never leave your device unattended in public—While many threats exist online, you still have to be aware of real-world threats, like someone grabbing your device when you’re not looking. Keep your smartphone on you, or within view, while in public.

If you have a “phone visibility” option, turn it off. This setting allows nearby devices to see your phone and exchange data with it.

5. Stay aware—New mobile threats are emerging all the time. Keep up on the latest scams and warning signs, so you know what to look out for.

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

The post How To Tell If Your Smartphone Has Been Hacked appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Radware Blog: Growing Your Business: Millennials and M-Commerce

Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force—a position they’ve held since 2016—and they’re involved in the majority (73%) of B2B purchasing decisions. Raised in the age of the Internet, they’re digital natives and easily adopt and adapt to new technologies. And mobile apps are their lifelines. Why does this matter? Well, when […]

The post Growing Your Business: Millennials and M-Commerce appeared first on Radware Blog.



Radware Blog

Fake Voice Apps Emerge in Google Play Store

Fake voice apps have been spotted on Google Play, and researchers suggested that more could be on the way.

As reported by Trend Micro, multiple malicious voice communication and messaging apps have been spotted on Google Play in the last month. While they appear legitimate at first glance, these messaging platforms leverage modular downloaders to contact command-and-control (C&C) servers, obtain payloads and serve up fake surveys designed to steal user data. They’re lightweight and minimally invasive, reducing the chance of detection by users or device security systems.

Once installed, the app contacts a C&C server for its payload. This contains an “Icon” module that hides the application’s actual icon to subvert uninstall attempts, and a “Wpp” module that opens arbitrary browser URLs and allows the malware to generate fake surveys intended to capture personal information such as names, phone numbers and home addresses. In addition, these apps contain a dynamic library module called “Socks” that integrates with Ares-C. While the researchers didn’t see Socks in action, they believe it may be a developing feature for use in new malware iterations.

Based on code similarities, Trend Micro believes these fake apps have the same authors and suggested that, despite Google’s removal of these apps from the Play Store, more are likely on the way as malware makers discover better ways to obscure malicious code.

What Is the Impact to Users?

For users, the immediate impact of these fake voice apps is having to deal with random URLs and persistent fake surveys. Uninstallation is also frustrating, since the applications take steps to prevent easy removal.

Trend Micro speculated that the malware operators’ current campaign may be a test run for a larger-scale botnet. Here, the ongoing impact is more worrisome: If whisper-quiet voice apps make their way onto user devices, compromise them without notice and leverage them for botnet-based attacks, the sheer numbers could be daunting at best and devastating at worst — especially if these applications make their way into popular download platforms.

Be Vigilant to Spot Fake Voice Apps

Google has taken steps to remove these applications from the Play Store. But with the specter of new versions on the way, users and organizations must take steps to protect mobile devices from these trash-talking apps.

From an end-user standpoint, IBM X-Force recommends regular software updates for both operating systems and antivirus solutions to help reduce the success rate of fake application infections. Meanwhile, IBM security experts advise enterprises to invest in unified endpoint management (UEM) tools that enable IT teams to view, manage and protect all corporate-connected devices before they become fake voice app victims.

Source: Trend Micro

The post Fake Voice Apps Emerge in Google Play Store appeared first on Security Intelligence.

FakeSpy And XLoader Mobile Malware May Come From Yanbian Gang

A pair of mobile malware threats, XLoader and FakeSpy, that posed as apps from a Japanese home delivery company may be operated by or affiliated with the same group of cybercriminals, according to recent reports.

Nearly 385,000 people around the world have been affected by XLoader and FakeSpy, which are designed to steal personal information such as financial data and install other apps, according to Trend Micro. The majority of victims are based in Japan and South Korea, and data compiled up to October shows that the number of infections from the two mobile malware threats have increased dramatically since August.

The researchers attributed both XLoader and FakeSpy to a cybercriminal collective known as the Yanbian Gang.

Signs of a Possible Mobile Malware Connection

One sign that FakeSpy and XLoader might originate from the same source is a set of about 126 domains that they share as part of their deployment procedures. A closer look at the two threats revealed marked resemblances in their code, and they also attempt to hide the origins of their command-and-control (C&C) servers in similar ways.

Both threats imitated legitimate apps of a Japanese home delivery firm to dupe users into installing the mobile malware on their devices, and the domains in question were registered with phone numbers from the same Chinese province where researchers believe the Yanbian Gang is based.

That said, the report acknowledged that the two mobile malware threats may simply have been developed and deployed in similar ways, and nothing has been definitively proven yet.

How to Stay Ahead of the Threat

No matter who is behind FakeSpy and XLoader, there’s no question they follow in the footsteps of similar mobile malware campaigns that use phishing techniques to lure their victims.

In response to such threats, IBM X-Force and IBM Research in Tokyo developed an advanced approach called ahead-of-threat detection, which brings together disparate data sources to identify potentially dangerous phishing domains before cybercriminals can use them in their social engineering schemes. With ahead-of-threat detection, chief information security officers (CISOs) and their teams can build more effective blacklists and keep the likes of XLoader and FakeSpy at bay.

Source: Trend Micro

The post FakeSpy And XLoader Mobile Malware May Come From Yanbian Gang appeared first on Security Intelligence.

What To Do When Your Social Media Account Gets Hacked

You log in to your favorite social media site and notice a string of posts or messages definitely not posted by you. Or, you get a message that your account password has been changed, without your knowledge. It hits you that your account has been hacked. What do you do?

This is a timely question considering that social media breaches have been on the rise. A recent survey revealed that 22%of internet users said that their online accounts have been hacked at least once, while 14% reported they were hacked more than once. And, earlier this year Facebook itself got hacked, exposing the identity information of 50 million users.

Your first move—and a crucial one—is to change your password right away, and notify your connections that your account has been hacked. This way your friends know not to click on any suspicious posts or messages that appear to be coming from you because they might contain malware or phishing attempts. But that’s not all. There may be other, hidden threats to having your social media account hacked.

The risks associated with a hacker poking around your social media have a lot to do with how much personal information you share. Does your account include personal information that could be used to steal your identity, or guess your security questions on other accounts?

These could include your date of birth, address, hometown, or names of family members and pets. Just remember, even if you keep your profile locked down with strong privacy settings, once the hacker logs in as you, everything you have posted is up for grabs.

You should also consider whether the password for the compromised account is being used on any of your other accounts, because if so, you should change those as well. A clever hacker could easily try your email address and known password on a variety of sites to see if they can log in as you, including on banking sites.

Next, you have to address the fact that your account could have been used to spread scams or malware. Hackers often infect accounts so they can profit off clicks using adware, or steal even more valuable information from you and your contacts.

You may have already seen the scam for “discount Ray-Ban” sunglasses that plagued Facebook a couple of years ago, and recently took over Instagram. This piece of malware posts phony ads to the infected user’s account, and then tags their friends in the post. Because the posts appear in a trusted friend’s feed, users are often tricked into clicking on it, which in turn compromises their own account.

So, in addition to warning your contacts not to click on suspicious messages that may have been sent using your account, you should flag the messages as scams to the social media site, and delete them from your profile page.

Finally, you’ll want to check to see if there are any new apps or games installed to your account that you didn’t download. If so, delete them since they may be another attempt to compromise your account.

Now that you know what do to after a social media account is hacked, here’s how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

How To Keep Your Social Accounts Secure

  • Don’t click on suspicious messages or links, even if they appear to be posted by someone you know.
  • Flag any scam posts or messages you encounter on social media to the website, so they can help stop the threat from spreading.
  • Use unique, complicated passwords for all your accounts.
  • If the site offers multi-factor authentication, use it, and choose the highest privacy setting available.
  • Avoid posting any identity information or personal details that might allow a hacker to guess your security questions.
  • Don’t log in to your social accounts while using public Wi-Fi, since these networks are often unsecured and your information could be stolen.
  • Always use comprehensive security software that can keep you protected from the latest threats.
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest scams and malware threats

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

The post What To Do When Your Social Media Account Gets Hacked appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Kaspersky Security Bulletin 2018. Top security stories

Introduction

The internet is now woven into the fabric of our lives. Many people routinely bank, shop and socialize online and the internet is the lifeblood of commercial organizations. The dependence on technology of governments, businesses and consumers provides a broad attack surface for attackers with all kinds of motives – financial theft, theft of data, disruption, damage, reputational damage or simply ‘for the lulz’. The result is a threat landscape that ranges from highly sophisticated targeted attacks to opportunistic cybercrime. All too often, both rely on manipulating human psychology as a way of compromising entire systems or individual computers. Increasingly, the devices targeted also include those that we don’t consider to be computers – from children’s toys to security cameras. Here is our annual round-up of major incidents and key trends from 2018

Targeted attack campaigns

At this year’s Security Analyst Summit we reported on Slingshot – a sophisticated cyber-espionage platform that has been used to target victims in the Middle East and Africa since 2012. We discovered this threat – which rivals Regin and ProjectSauron in its complexity – during an incident investigation. Slingshot uses an unusual (and, as far as we know, unique) attack vector: many of the victims were attacked by means of compromised MikroTik routers. The exact method for compromising the routers is not clear, but the attackers have found a way to add a malicious DLL to the device: this DLL is a downloader for other malicious files that are then stored on the router. When a system administrator logs in to configure the router, the router’s management software downloads and runs a malicious module on the administrator’s computer. Slingshot loads a number of modules on a compromised computer, but the two most notable are Cahnadr and GollumApp – which are, respectively, kernel mode and user mode modules. Together, they provide the functionality to maintain persistence, manage the file system, exfiltrate data and communicate with the C2 (command-and-control) server. The samples we looked at were marked as ‘version 6.x’, suggesting that the threat has existed for a considerable length of time. The time, skill and cost involved in creating Slingshot indicates that the group behind it is likely to be highly organized and professional, and probably state sponsored.

Soon after the start of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, we began receiving reports of malware attacks on infrastructure related to the games. Olympic Destroyer shut down display monitors, killed Wi-Fi and took down the Olympics website – preventing visitors from printing tickets. The attack also affected other organizations in the region – for example, ski gates and ski lifts were disabled at several South Korean ski resorts. Olympic Destroyer is a network worm, the main aim of which is to wipe files from remote network shares of its victims. In the days that followed the attack, research teams and media companies around the world variously attributed the attack to Russia, China and North Korea – based on a number of features previously attributed to cyber-espionage and sabotage groups allegedly based in those countries or working for the governments of those countries. Our own researchers were also trying to understand which group was behind the attack. At one stage during our research, we discovered something that seemed to indicate that the Lazarus group was behind the attack. We found a unique trace left by the attackers that exactly matched a previously known Lazarus malware component. However, the lack of obvious motive and inconsistencies with known Lazarus TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) that we found during our on-site investigation at a compromised facility in South Korea led us to look again at this artefact. When we did so, we discovered that the set of features didn’t match the code – it had been forged to perfectly match the fingerprint used by Lazarus. So we concluded that the ‘fingerprint’ was a very sophisticated false flag, intentionally placed inside the malware in order to give threat hunters the impression that they had found a ‘smoking gun’ and diverting them from a more accurate attribution.


OlympicDestroyer component relations

We continued to track this APT group’s activities and noticed in June that they had started a new campaign with a different geographical distribution and using new themes. Our telemetry, and the characteristics of the spear-phishing documents we analysed, indicated that the attacker behind Olympic Destroyer was targeting financial and biotechnology-related organizations based in Europe – specifically, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Ukraine. The earlier Olympic Destroyer attacks – designed to destroy and paralyze the infrastructure of the Winter Olympic Games and related supply chains, partners and venues – were preceded by a reconnaissance operation. This suggested to us that the new activities were part of another reconnaissance stage that would be followed by a wave of destructive attacks with new motives. The variety of financial and non-financial targets could indicate that the same malware was being used by several groups with different interests. This could also be the result of cyberattack outsourcing, which is not uncommon among nation-state threat actors. However, it’s also possible that the financial targets are another false-flag operation by a threat actor that has already shown that they excel at this.

In April, we reported the workings of Operation Parliament, a cyber-espionage campaign aimed at high-profile legislative, executive and judicial organizations around the world – with its main focus in the Middle East and North Africa region, especially Palestine. The attacks, which started early in 2017, targeted parliaments, senates, top state offices and officials, political science scholars, military and intelligence agencies, ministries, media outlets, research centers, election commissions, Olympic organizations, large trading companies and others. The targeting of victims was unlike that of previous campaigns in the region (Gaza Cybergang or Desert Falcons) and points to an elaborate information-gathering exercise that was carried out prior to the attacks (physical and/or digital). The attackers have been particularly careful to verify victim devices before proceeding with the infection, safeguarding their C2 servers. The attacks slowed down after the start of 2018, probably because the attackers achieved their objectives.

We have continued to track the activities of Crouching Yeti (aka Energetic Bear), an APT group that has been active since at least 2010, mainly targeting energy and industrial companies. The group targets organizations around the world, but with a particular focus on Europe, the US and Turkey – the latter being a new addition to the group’s interests during 2016-17. The group’s main tactics include sending phishing emails with malicious documents and infecting servers for different purposes, including hosting tools and logs and watering-hole attacks. Crouching Yeti’s activities against US targets have been publicly discussed by US-CERT and the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). In April, Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT provided information on identified servers infected and used by Crouching Yeti and presented the findings of an analysis of several web servers compromised by the group during 2016 and early 2017. You can read the full report here, but below is a summary of our findings.

  1. With rare exceptions, the group’s members get by with publicly available tools. The use of publicly available utilities by the group to conduct its attacks renders the task of attack attribution without any additional group ‘markers’ very difficult.
  2. Potentially, any vulnerable server on the internet is of interest to the attackers when they want to establish a foothold in order to develop further attacks against target facilities.
  3. In most cases that we have observed, the group performed tasks related to searching for vulnerabilities, gaining persistence on various hosts, and stealing authentication data.
  4. The diversity of victims may indicate the diversity of the attackers’ interests.
  5. It can be assumed with some degree of certainty that the group operates in the interests of or takes orders from customers that are external to it, performing initial data collection, the theft of authentication data and gaining persistence on resources that are suitable for the attack’s further development.

In May, researchers from Cisco Talos published the results of their research into VPNFilter, malware used to infect different brands of router – mainly in Ukraine, although affecting routers in 54 countries in total. You can read their analysis here and here. Initially, they believed that the malware had infected around 500,000 routers – Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear and TP-Link networking equipment in the small office/home office (SOHO) sector, and QNAP network-attached storage (NAS) devices. However, it later became clear that the list of infected routers was much longer – 75 in total, including ASUS, D-Link, Huawei, Ubiquiti, UPVEL and ZTE. The malware is capable of bricking the infected device, executing shell commands for further manipulation, creating a TOR configuration for anonymous access to the device or configuring the router’s proxy port and proxy URL to manipulate browsing sessions. However, it also spreads into networks supported by the device, thereby extending the scope of the attack. Researchers from our Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) took a detailed look at the C2 mechanism used by VPNFilter. One of the interesting questions is who is behind this malware. Cisco Talos indicated that a state-sponsored or state affiliated threat actor is responsible. In its affidavit for sink-holing the C2, the FBI suggests that Sofacy (aka APT28, Pawn Storm, Sednit, STRONTIUM, and Tsar Team) is the culprit. There is some code overlap with the BlackEnergy malware used in previous attacks in Ukraine (the FBI’s affidavit makes it clear that they see BlackEnergy (aka Sandworm) as a sub-group of Sofacy).

Sofacy is a highly active and prolific cyber-espionage group that Kaspersky Lab has been tracking for many years. In February, we published an overview of Sofacy activities in 2017, revealing a gradual move away from NATO-related targets at the start of 2017, towards targets in the Middle East, Central Asia and beyond. Sofacy uses spear-phishing and watering-hole attacks to steal information, including account credentials, sensitive communications and documents. This threat actor also makes use of zero-day vulnerabilities to deploy its malware.

Sofacy deploys different tools for different target profiles. Early in 2017 the group’s Dealer’s Choice campaign was used to target military and diplomatic organizations (mainly in NATO countries and Ukraine). Later in the year, the group used other tools from its arsenal, Zebrocy and SPLM, to target a broader range of organizations, including science and engineering centers and press services, with more of a focus on Central Asia and the Far East. Like other sophisticated threat actors, Sofacy continually develops new tools, maintains a high level of operational security and focuses on making its malware hard to detect. Once any signs of activity by an advanced threat actor such as Sofacy have been found in a network, it’s important to review logins and unusual administrator access on systems, thoroughly scan and sandbox incoming attachments, and maintain two-factor authentication for services such as email and VPN access. The use of APT intelligence reports, threat hunting tools such as YARA and advanced detection solutions such as KATA (Kaspersky Anti Targeted Attack Platform) will help you to understand their targeting and provide powerful ways of detecting their activities.

Our research shows that Sofacy is not the only threat actor operating in the Far East and this sometimes results in a target overlap between very different threat actors. We have seen cases where the Sofacy Zebrocy malware has competed for access to victims’ computers with the Russian-speaking Mosquito Turla clusters; and where its SPLM backdoor has competed with the traditional Turla and Chinese-speaking Danti attacks. The shared targets included government administration, technology, science and military-related organizations in or from Central Asia. The most intriguing overlap is probably that between Sofacy and the English-speaking threat actor behind the Lamberts family. The connection was discovered after researchers detected the presence of Sofacy on a server that threat intelligence had previously identified as compromised by Grey Lambert malware. The server belongs to a Chinese conglomerate that designs and manufactures aerospace and air defense technologies. However, in this case the original SPLM delivery vector remains unknown. This raises a number of hypothetical possibilities, including the fact that Sofacy could be using a new, and as yet undetected, exploit or a new strain of its backdoor, or that Sofacy somehow managed to harness Grey Lambert’s communication channels to download its malware. It could even be a false flag, planted during the previous Lambert infection. We think that the most likely answer is that an unknown new PowerShell script or legitimate but vulnerable web app was exploited to load and execute the SPLM code.

In June, we reported an ongoing campaign targeting a national data centre in Central Asia. The choice of target was especially significant – it means that the attackers were able to gain access to a wide range of government resources in one fell swoop. We think they did this by inserting malicious scripts into the country’s official websites in order to conduct watering-hole attacks. We attribute this campaign to the Chinese-speaking threat actor, LuckyMouse (aka EmissaryPanda and APT27) because of the tools and tactics used in the campaign, because the C2 domain – ‘update.iaacstudio[.]com’ – was previously used by this group and because they have previously targeted government organizations, including Central Asian ones. The initial infection vector used in the attack against the data center is unclear. Even where we observed LuckyMouse using weaponized documents with CVE-2017-118822 (Microsoft Office Equation Editor, widely used by Chinese-speaking actors since December 2017), we couldn’t prove that they were related to this particular attack. It’s possible that the attackers used a watering hole to infect data center employees.

We reported another LuckyMouse campaign in September. Since March, we had found several infections where a previously unknown Trojan was injected into the ‘lsass.exe’ system process memory. These implants were injected by the digitally signed 32- and 64-bit network filtering driver NDISProxy. Interestingly, this driver is signed with a digital certificate that belongs to the Chinese company LeagSoft, a developer of information security software based in Shenzhen, Guangdong. We informed the company about the issue via CN-CERT. This campaign targeted Central Asian government organizations and we believe the attack was linked to a high-level meeting in the region. The choice of the Earthworm tunneler used in the attack is typical for Chinese-speaking actors. Also, one of the commands used by the attackers (‘-s rssocks -d 103.75.190[.]28 -e 443’) creates a tunnel to a previously known LuckyMouse C2 server. The choice of victims in this campaign also aligns with the previous interests shown by this threat actor. We did not see any indications of spear-phishing or watering-hole activity: and we think that the attackers spread their infectors through networks that were already compromised.

Lazarus is a well-established threat actor that has conducted cyber-espionage and cybersabotage campaigns since at least 2009. In recent years, the group has launched campaigns against financial organizations around the globe. In August we reported that the group had successfully compromised several banks and infiltrated a number of global crypto-currency exchanges and fintech companies. While assisting with an incident response operation, we learned that the victim had been infected with the help of a Trojanized crypto-currency trading application that had been recommended to the company over email. An unsuspecting employee had downloaded a third-party application from a legitimate looking website, infecting their computer with malware known as Fallchill, an old tool that Lazarus has recently started using again. It seems as though Lazarus has found an elaborate way to create a legitimate looking site and inject a malicious payload into a ‘legitimate looking’ software update mechanism – in this case, creating a fake supply chain rather than compromising a real one. At any rate, the success of the Lazarus group in compromising supply chains suggests that it will continue to exploit this method of attack. The attackers went the extra mile and developed malware for non-Windows platforms – they included a Mac OS version and the website suggests that a Linux version is coming soon. This is probably the first time that we’ve seen this APT group using malware for Mac OS. It looks as though, in the chase after advanced targets, software developers from supply chains and some high-profile targets, threat actors are forced to develop Mac OS malware tools. The fact that the Lazarus group has expanded its list of targeted operating systems should be a wake-up call for users of non-Windows platforms. You can read our report on Operation AppleJeus here.

Turla (aka Venomous Bear, Waterbug, and Uroboros) is best known for what was, at the time, an ultra-complex Snake rootkit focused on NATO-related targets. However, this threat actor’s activity is much broader. In October, we reported on the Turla group’s recent activities, revealing an interesting mix of old code, new code, and new speculations as to where they will strike next and what they will shed. Much of our 2018 research focused on the group’s KopiLuwak JavaScript backdoor, new variants of the Carbon framework and Meterpreter delivery techniques. Other interesting aspects were the changing Mosquito delivery techniques, customized PoshSec-Mod open-source PowerShell use and borrowed injector code. We tied some of this activity together with infrastructure and data points from WhiteBear and Mosquito infrastructure and activity in 2017 and 2018. One interesting aspect of our research was the lack of ongoing targeting overlap with other APT activity. Turla was absent from the milestone DNC hack event – where Sofacy and CozyDuke were both present – but the group was quietly active around the globe on other projects. This provides some insight into the ongoing motivations and ambitions of the group. It is interesting that data related to these organizations has not been weaponized and found online while this Turla activity quietly carries on. Both Mosquito and Carbon projects focus mainly on diplomatic and foreign affairs targets, while WhiteAtlas and WhiteBear activity stretched across the globe to include organizations related to foreign affairs, but not all targeting has consistently followed this profile: the group also targeted scientific and technical centres, along with organizations outside the political arena. The group’s KopiLuwak activity does not necessarily focus on diplomatic and foreign affairs. Instead, 2018 activity targeted government-related scientific and energy research organizations and a government-related communications organization in Afghanistan. This highly selective but wider targeting set will probably continue into 2019.

In October, we reported the recent activity of the MuddyWater APT group. Our past telemetry indicates that this relatively new threat actor, which surfaced in 2017, has focused mainly on government targets in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. However, the group behind MuddyWater has been known to target other countries in the Middle East, Europe and the US. We recently noticed a large number of spear-phishing documents that appear to be targeting government bodies, military entities, telcos and educational institutions in Jordan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan, in addition to the continuous targeting of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Other victims were detected in Mali, Austria, Russia, Iran and Bahrain. These new documents have appeared throughout 2018 and the activity escalated from May onwards. The new spear-phishing documents rely on social engineering to persuade the victims to enable macros. The attackers rely on a range of compromised hosts to deliver their attacks. In the advanced stages of our research, we were able not only to observe additional files and tools from the group’s arsenal but also some OPSEC mistakes made by the attackers. In order to protect against malware attacks, we would recommend the following measures:

  • Educate general staff so that they are able to identify malicious behaviour such as phishing links.
  • Educate information security staff to ensure that they have full configuration, investigative and hunting abilities.
  • Use a proven corporate-grade security solution in combination with anti-targeted attack solutions capable of detecting attacks by analyzing network anomalies.
  • Provide security staff with access to the latest threat intelligence data, which will arm them with helpful tools for targeted attack prevention and discovery, such as IoCs (indicators of compromise) and YARA rules.
  • Establish enterprise-grade patch management processes.

High-profile organizations should adopt elevated levels of cybersecurity, since attacks against them are inevitable and are unlikely to ever cease.

DustSquad is another threat actor that has targeted organizations in Central Asia. Kaspersky Lab has been monitoring this Russian language cyber-espionage group for the last two years, providing private intelligence reports to our customers on four of their campaigns involving custom Android and Windows malware. Recently, we described a malicious program called Octopus, used by DustSquad to target diplomatic bodies in the region – the name was originally coined by ESET in 2017, after the 0ct0pus3.php script used by the actor on their old C2 servers. Using the Kaspersky Attribution Engine, based on similarity algorithms, we discovered that Octopus is related to DustSquad. In our telemetry, we tracked this campaign back to 2014 in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia (still mostly Russian-speaking) and in Afghanistan. In April, we discovered a new Octopus sample masquerading as Telegram Messenger with a Russian interface. We were unable to find legitimate software that this malware is impersonating – in fact, we don’t believe it exists. However, the attackers used the potential Telegram ban in Kazakhstan to push its dropper as alternative communication software for the political opposition. By subscribing to our APT intelligence reports, you can get access to our investigations and discoveries as they happen, including comprehensive technical data.

In October, we published our analysis of Dark Pulsar. Our investigation started in March 2017, when the Shadow Brokers published stolen data that included two frameworks – DanderSpritz and FuzzBunch. DanderSpritz contains various types of plugin designed to analyze victims, exploit vulnerabilities, schedule tasks, etc. The DanderSpritz framework is designed to examine already controlled machines and gather intelligence. Together, they provide a very powerful platform for cyber-espionage. The leak didn’t include the Dark Pulsar backdoor itself: rather, it contained an administrative module for controlling the backdoor. However, by creating special signatures based on some magic constants in the administrative module, we were able to catch the implant itself. This implant gives the attackers remote control over compromised devices. We found 50 victims, all located in Russia, Iran and Egypt, but we believe there were probably many more. For one thing, the DanderSpritz interface is able to manage a large number of victims at the same time. In addition, the attackers often delete their malware once the campaign has ended. We think that the campaign stopped following the ‘Lost in Translation’ leak by the Shadow Brokers in April 2017. You can find our suggested mitigation strategies for complex threats such as Dark Pulsar here.

Mobile APT campaigns

The mobile APT threats segment saw three significant events: the detection of the Zoopark, BusyGasper and Skygofree cyber-espionage campaigns.

Technically, all three are well-designed and similar in their primary purpose – spying on selected victims. Their main aim is to steal all available personal data from a mobile device: interception of calls, messages, geolocation, etc. There is even a function for eavesdropping via the microphone – the smartphone is used as a ‘bug’ that doesn’t even need to be hidden from an unsuspecting target.

The cybercriminals paid particular attention to the theft of messages from popular instant messaging services, which have now largely replaced standard means of communication. In several cases, the attackers used exploits that were capable of escalating the Trojans’ local privileges on a device, opening up virtually unlimited access to remote monitoring, and often device management.

Keylogger functionality was also implemented in two of the three malicious programs, with the cybercriminals recording every keystroke on a device’s keyboard. It’s noteworthy that in order to intercept clicks the attackers didn’t even require elevated privileges.

Geographically, victims were recorded in a variety of countries: Skygofree targeted users in Italy, BusyGasper attacked individual Russian users, and Zoopark operated in the Middle East.

It’s also worth noting that there’s an increasingly prominent trend of criminals involved in espionage showing a preference for mobile platforms, because they offer a lot more personal data.

Exploits

Exploiting vulnerabilities in software and hardware remains an important means of compromising devices of all kinds.

Early this year, two severe vulnerabilities affecting Intel CPUs were reported. Dubbed Meltdown and Spectre respectively, they both allow an attacker to read memory from any process and from its own process respectively. The vulnerabilities have been around since at least 2011. Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) affects Intel CPUs and allows an attacker to read data from any process on the host system. While code execution is required, this can be obtained in various ways – for example, through a software bug or by visiting a malicious website that loads JavaScript code that executes the Meltdown attack. This means that all the data residing in memory (passwords, encryption keys, PINs, etc.) could be read if the vulnerability is exploited properly. Vendors were quick to publish patches for the most popular operating systems. The Microsoft update, released on January 3, was not compatible with all antivirus programs – possibly resulting in a BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) on incompatible systems. So updates could only be installed if an antivirus product had first set a specific registry key, to indicate that there were no compatibility problems. Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715) is slightly different. Unlike Meltdown, this attack also works on other architectures (such as AMD and ARM). Also, Spectre is only able to read the memory space of the exploited process, and not that of any process. More importantly, aside from some countermeasures in some browsers, no universal solution is readily available for Spectre. It became clear in the weeks following the reports of the vulnerabilities that they are not easily fixable. Most of the released patches have reduced the attack surface, mitigating against known ways of exploiting the vulnerabilities, but they don’t eradicate the danger completely. Since the problem is fundamental to the working of the vulnerable CPUs, it was clear that vendors would probably have to grapple with new exploits for years to come. In fact, it didn’t take years. In July, Intel paid out a $100,000 bug bounty for new processor vulnerabilities related to Spectre variant one (CVE-2017-5753). Spectre 1.1 (CVE-2018-3693) can be used to create speculative buffer overflows. Spectre 1.2 allows an attacker to overwrite read-only data and code pointers to breach sandboxes on CPUs that don’t enforce read-write protections. These new vulnerabilities were uncovered by MIT researcher Vladimir Kiriansky and independent researcher Carl Waldspurger.

On April 18, someone uploaded an interesting exploit to VirusTotal. This was detected by several security vendors, including Kaspersky Lab – using our generic heuristic logic for some older Microsoft Word documents. It turned out to be a new zero-day vulnerability for Internet Explorer (CVE-2018-8174) – patched by Microsoft on May 8, 2018. Following processing of the sample in our sandbox system, we noticed that it successfully exploited a fully patched version of Microsoft Word. This led us to carry out a deeper analysis of the vulnerability. The infection chain consists of the following steps. The victim receives a malicious Microsoft Word document. After opening it, the second stage of the exploit is downloaded – an HTML page containing VBScript code. This triggers a UAF (Use After Free) vulnerability and executes shellcode. Despite the initial attack vector being a Word document, the vulnerability is actually in VBScript. This is the first time we have seen a URL Moniker used to load an IE exploit in Word, but we believe that this technique will be heavily abused by attackers in the future, since it allows them to force victims to load IE, ignoring the default browser settings. It’s likely that exploit kit authors will start abusing it in both drive-by attacks (through the browser) and spear-phishing campaigns (through a document). To protect against this technique, we would recommend applying the latest security updates and using a security solution with behavior detection capabilities.

In August, our AEP (Automatic Exploit Prevention) technology detected a new kind of cyberattack that tried to use a zero-day vulnerability in the Windows driver file, ‘win32k.sys’. We informed Microsoft about the issue and on October 9 Microsoft disclosed the vulnerability (CVE-2018-8453) and published an update. This is a very dangerous vulnerability, giving attackers control over a compromised computer. The vulnerability was used in a highly targeted attack campaign on organizations in the Middle East – we found fewer than a dozen victims. We believe that these attacks were carried out by the FruityArmor threat actor.

In late October we reported another vulnerability to Microsoft, this time a zero-day elevation of privilege vulnerability in ‘win32k.sys’ – which can be used by an attacker to obtain the privileges necessary for persistence on a victim’s system. This vulnerability has also been exploited in a very limited number of attacks on organizations in the Middle East. Microsoft published an update for this vulnerability (CVE-2018-8589) on November 13. This threat was also detected by means of our proactive technologies – the advanced sandboxing and anti-malware engine for the Kaspersky Anti Targeted Attack Platform and our AEP technology.

Brower extensions – extending the reach of cybercriminals

Browser extensions can make our lives easier, hiding obtrusive advertising, translating text, helping us choose the goods we want in online stores and more. Unfortunately, there are also less desirable extensions that are used to bombard us with advertising or collect information about our activities. There are also extensions designed to steal money. Earlier this year, one of these caught our eye because it communicated with a suspicious domain. The malicious extension, named Desbloquear Conteúdo (‘Unblock Content’ in Portuguese), targeted customers of Brazilian online banking services, harvesting logins and passwords in order to obtain access to victims’ bank accounts.

In September, hackers published the private messages from at least 81,000 Facebook accounts, claiming that this was just a small fraction of a much larger haul comprising 120 million accounts. In a Dark Web advert, the attackers offered the messages for 10 cents per account. The attack was investigated by the BBC Russian Service and cybersecurity company Digital Shadows. They found that of 81,000 accounts, most were from Ukraine and Russia, although accounts from other countries were also among them, including the UK, the US and Brazil. Facebook suggested that the messages were stolen using a malicious browser extension.

Malicious extensions are quite rare, but we need to take them seriously because of the potential damage they can cause. You should only install verified extensions with large numbers of installations and reviews in the Chrome Web Store or other official service. Even so, in spite of the protection measures implemented by the owners of such services, malicious extensions can still end up being published there. So it’s a good idea to use an internet security product that gives you a warning if an extension acts suspiciously.

The World Cup of fraud

Social engineering remains an important tool in the arsenal of cyberattackers of all kinds. Fraudsters are always on the lookout for opportunities to make money off the back of major sporting events; and the FIFA World Cup is no different. Long before the event kicked off, cybercriminals had started to create phishing websites and send messages exploiting World Cup themes. These phishing messages included notifications of a fake lottery win, or a message offering tickets to one of the matches. Fraudsters often go to great lengths to mimic legitimate partner sites, creating well-designed pages and even including SSL certificates for added credibility. The criminals also extract data by mimicking official FIFA notifications: the victim receives a message telling them that the security system has been updated and all personal data must be re-entered to avoid lockout. These messages contain a link to a fake page where the scammers harvest the victim’s personal information.

You can find our report on the ways cybercriminals have exploited the World Cup in order to make money here. We also provided tips on how to avoid phishing scams – advice that holds true for any phishing scams, not just for those related to the World Cup.

In the run up to the tournament, we also analyzed wireless access points in the 11 cities hosting FIFA World Cup matches – nearly 32,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in total. While checking encryption and authentication algorithms, we counted the number of WPA2 and open networks, as well as their share among all the access points. More than a fifth of Wi-Fi hotspots were using unreliable networks. This meant that criminals simply needed to be located near an access point to intercept traffic and get their hands on people’s data. Around three quarters of all access points used WPA/WPA2 encryption, considered to be one of the most secure. The level of protection mostly depends on the settings, such as the strength of the password set by the hotspot owner. A complicated encryption key can take years to successfully hack. However, even reliable networks, like WPA2, cannot be automatically considered totally secure. They are still susceptible to brute-force, dictionary and key reinstallation attacks, for which there are a large number of tutorials and open source tools available online. Any attempt to intercept traffic from WPA Wi-Fi in public access points can also be made by penetrating the gap between the access point and the device at the beginning of the session.

You can read our report here, together with our recommendations on the safe use of Wi-Fi hotspots, advice that is valid wherever you may be – not just at the World Cup.

Financial fraud on an industrial scale

In August, Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT reported a phishing campaign designed to steal money from enterprises – primarily manufacturing companies. The attackers used standard phishing techniques to trick their victims into clicking on infected attachments, using emails disguised as commercial offers and other financial documents. The criminals used legitimate remote administration applications – either TeamViewer or RMS (Remote Manipulator System). These programs were employed to gain access to the device, scan for information on current purchases and details of financial and accounting software used by the victims. The attackers then used different ploys to steal company money – for example, by replacing the banking details in transactions. By the time we published our report, on August 1, we had seen infections on around 800 computers, spread across at least 400 organizations in a wide array of industries – including manufacturing, oil and gas, metallurgy, engineering, energy, construction, mining and logistics. The campaign has been ongoing since October 2017.

Our research highlights that, even when threat actors use simple techniques and known malware, they can successfully attack industrial companies by using social engineering tricks and hiding their code in target systems – using legitimate remote administration software to evade detection by antivirus solutions.

You can find out more about how attackers use remote administration tools to compromise their targets here, and an overview of attacks on ICS systems in the first half of 2018 here.

Ransomware – still a threat

The fall in the number of ransomware attacks in the last year or so has been well-documented. Nevertheless, this type of malware remains a significant problem and we continue to see the development of new ransomware families. Early in August, our anti-ransomware module started detecting the KeyPass Trojan. In just two days, we found this malware in more than 20 countries – Brazil and Vietnam were hardest hit, but we also found victims in Europe, Africa and the Far East. KeyPass encrypts all files, regardless of extension, on local drives and network shares that are accessible from the infected computer. It ignores some files, located in directories that are hardcoded in the malware. Encrypted files are given the additional extension ‘KEYPASS’ and ransom notes, called ‘!!!KEYPASS_DECRYPTION_INFO!!!.txt’, are saved in each directory containing encrypted files. The creators of this Trojan implemented a very simplistic scheme. The malware uses the symmetric algorithm AES-256 in CFB mode with zero IV and the same 32-byte key for all files. The Trojan encrypts a maximum of 0x500000 bytes (~5 MB) of data at the start of each file. Shortly after launch, the malware connects to its C2 server and obtains the encryption key and infection ID for the current victim. The data is transferred over plain HTTP in the form of JSON. If the C2 is unavailable – for example, if the infected computer is not connected to the internet, or the server is down – the malware uses a hardcoded key and ID. As a result, in the case of offline encryption, the decryption of the victim’s files is trivial.

Probably the most interesting feature of the KeyPass Trojan is the ability to take ‘manual control’. The Trojan contains a form that is hidden by default, but which can be shown after pressing a special button on the keyboard. This form allows the criminals to customize the encryption process by changing such parameters as the encryption key, the name of the ransom note, the text of the ransom, the victim ID, the extension of encrypted files and the list of directories to be excluded from encryption. This capability suggests that the criminals behind the Trojan might intend to use it in manual attacks.

However, it’s not only new ransomware families that are causing problems. One and a half years after the WannaCry epidemic, it continues to top the list of the most widespread cryptor families – so far, we have seen 74,621 unique attacks worldwide. These attacks accounted for 28.72% of all those targeted with cryptors in Q3 2018. This percentage has risen by two-thirds during the last year. This is especially alarming considering that a patch for the EternalBlue exploit used by WannaCry existed even before the initial epidemic in May 2017.

Asacub and banking Trojans

2018 showed the most impressive figures in terms of the number of attacks involving mobile banking Trojans. At the beginning of the year, this type of threat seemed to have leveled off both in number of unique samples detected and number of users attacked.

However, in the second quarter there was a dramatic change for the worse: record-breaking numbers of detected mobile banking Trojans and attacked users. The root cause of this significant upturn is unclear, though the main culprits were the creators of Asacub and Hqwar. An interesting feature of Asacub is its longevity: according to our data, the group behind it has been operating for more than three years.

Asacub evolved from an SMS Trojan, which from the very outset possessed techniques for preventing deletion and intercepting incoming calls and SMSs. The creators subsequently complicated the program logic and started the mass distribution of the malware. The chosen vector was the same as that at the very beginning – social engineering via SMS. However, this time the valid phone numbers were sourced from popular bulletin boards, with owners often expecting messages from unfamiliar subscribers.

The propagation technique then snowballed when the devices that the Trojan had infected started spreading the infection – Asacub self-proliferated to the victim’s entire contact list.

Smart doesn’t mean secure

These days we’re surrounded by smart devices. This includes everyday household objects such as TVs, smart meters, thermostats, baby monitors and children’s toys. But it also includes cars, medical devices, CCTV cameras and parking meters. We’re even seeing the emergence of smart cities. However, this offers a greater attack surface to anyone looking to take advantage of security weaknesses – for whatever purpose. Securing traditional computers is difficult. But things are more problematic with the internet of things (IoT), where lack of standardization leaves developers to ignore security, or consider it as an afterthought. There are plenty of examples to illustrate this.

In February, we explored the possibility that a smart hub might be vulnerable to attack. A smart hub lets you control the operation of other smart devices in the home, receiving information and issuing commands. Smart hubs might be controlled through a touch screen, or through a mobile app or web interface. If it’s vulnerable, it would potentially provide a single point of failure. While the smart hub our researchers investigated didn’t contain significant vulnerabilities, there were logical mistakes that were enough to allow our researchers to obtain remote access.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT checked a popular smart camera to see how well protected it is from hackers. Smart cameras are now part of everyday life. Many now connect to the cloud, allowing someone to monitor what’s happening at a remote location – to check on pets, for security surveillance, etc. The model our researchers investigated is marketed as an all-purpose tool – suitable for use as a baby monitor, or as part of a security system. The camera is able to see in the dark, follow a moving object, stream footage to a smartphone or tablet and play back sound through a built-in speaker. Unfortunately, the camera turned out to have 13 vulnerabilities – almost as many as it has features – that could allow an attacker to change the administrator password, execute arbitrary code on the device, build a botnet of compromised cameras or stop it functioning completely.

Potential problems are not limited to consumer devices. Early this year, Ido Naor, a researcher from our Global Research and Analysis Team and Amihai Neiderman from Azimuth Security, discovered a vulnerability in an automation device for a gas station. This device was directly connected to the internet and was responsible for managing every component of the station, including fuel dispensers and payment terminals. Even more alarming, the web interface for the device was accessible with default credentials. Further investigation revealed that it was possible to shut down all fueling systems, cause a fuel leakage, change the price, circumvent the payment terminal (in order to steal money), capture vehicle license plates and driver identities, execute code on the controller unit and even move freely across the gas station network.

Technology is driving improvements in healthcare. It has the power to transform the quality and reduce the cost of health and care services. It can also give patients and citizens more control over their care, empower carers and support the development of new medicines and treatments. However, new healthcare technologies and mobile working practices are producing more data than ever before, at the same time providing more opportunities for data to be lost or stolen. We’ve highlighted the issues several times over the last few years (you can read about it here, here and here). We continue to track the activities of cybercriminals, looking at how they penetrate medical networks, how they find data on publicly available medical resources and how they exfiltrate it. In September, we examined healthcare security. More than 60% of medical organizations had some kind of malware on their computers. In addition, attacks continue to grow in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s vital that medical facilities remove all nodes that process personal medical data, update software and remove applications that are no longer needed, and do not connect expensive medical equipment to the main LAN. You can find our detailed advice here.

This year, we also investigated smart devices for animals – specifically, trackers to monitor the location of pets. These gadgets are able to access the pet owner’s home network and phone, and their pet’s location. We wanted to find out how secure they are. Our researchers looked at several popular trackers for potential vulnerabilities. Four of the trackers we looked at use Bluetooth LE technology to communicate with the owner’s smartphone. But only one does so correctly. The others can receive and execute commands from anyone. They can also be disabled, or hidden from the owner – all that’s needed is proximity to the tracker. Only one of the tested Android apps verifies the certificate of its server, without relying solely on the system. As a result, they are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks—intruders can intercept transmitted data by ‘persuading’ victims to install their certificate.

Some of our researchers also looked at human wearable devices – specifically, smart watches and fitness trackers. We were interested in a scenario where a spying app installed on a smartphone could send data from the built-in motion sensors (accelerometer and gyroscope) to a remote server and use the data to piece together the wearer’s actions – walking, sitting, typing, etc. We started with an Android-based smartphone, created a simple app to process and transmit the data and then looked at what we could get from this data. Not only was it possible to work out that the wearer is sitting or walking, but also figure out if they are out for a stroll or changing subway trains, because the accelerometer patterns differ slightly – this is how fitness trackers distinguish between walking and cycling. It is also easy to see when someone is typing. However, finding out what they are typing would be hard and would require repeated text entry. Our researchers were able to recover a computer password with 96 per cent accuracy and a PIN code entered at an ATM with 87 per cent accuracy. However, it would be much harder to obtain other information – for example, a credit card number or CVC code – because of the lack of predictability about when the victim would type such information. In reality, the difficulty involved in obtaining such information means that an attacker would have to have a strong motive for targeting someone specific. Of course, there are situations where this might be worthwhile for attackers.

There has been a growth in car sharing services in recent years. Such services clearly provide flexibility for people wanting to get around major cities. However, it raises the question of security – how safe is the personal information of people using the services? In July, we tested 13 apps, to see if their developers have considered security. The results of our tests were not encouraging. It’s clear that app developers don’t fully understand the current threats to mobile platforms – this is true for both the design stage and when creating the infrastructure. A good first step would be to expand the functionality for notifying customers of suspicious activities – only one service currently sends notifications to customers about attempts to log in to their account from a different device. The majority of the apps we analyzed are poorly designed from a security standpoint and need to be improved. Moreover, many of the programs are not just very similar to each other but are actually based on the same code. You can read our report here, including advice for customers of car sharing services and recommendations for developers of car sharing apps.

The use of smart devices is increasing. Some forecasts suggest that by 2020 the number of smart devices will exceed the world’s population several times over. Yet manufacturers still don’t prioritize security: there are no reminders to change the default password during initial setup or notifications about the release of new firmware versions. And the updating process itself can be complex for the average consumer. This makes IoT devices a prime target for cybercriminals. Easier to infect than PCs, they often play an important role in the home infrastructure: some manage internet traffic, others shoot video footage and still others control domestic devices – for example, air conditioning. Malware for smart devices is increasing not only in quantity, but also quality. More and more exploits are being weaponized by cybercriminals, and infected devices are used to launch DDoS attacks, to steal personal data and to mine crypto-currency. In September, we published a report on IoT threats, and this year we have started to include data on IoT attacks in our quarterly and end-of-year statistics reports.

It’s vital that vendors improve their security approach, ensuring that security is considered when products are being designed. Governments in some countries, in an effort to encourage security by design in manufacturers of smart devices, are introducing guidelines. In October, the UK government launched its code of practice for consumer IoT security. The German government recently published its suggestions for minimum standards for broadband routers.

It’s also important that consumers consider security before buying any connected device.

  • Consider if you really need the device. If you do, check the functions available and disable any that you don’t need to reduce your attack surface.
  • Look online for information about any vulnerabilities that have been reported.
  • Check to see if it’s possible to update the firmware on the device.
  • Always change the default password and replace it with a unique, complex password.
  • Don’t share serial numbers, IP addresses and other sensitive data relating to the device online.

Our data in their hands

Personal information is a valuable commodity. This is evident from the steady stream of data breaches reported in the news – these include Under Armour, FIFA, Adidas, Ticketmaster, T-Mobile, Reddit, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

The scandal involving the use, by Cambridge Analytica, of Facebook data is a reminder that personal information is not just valuable to cybercriminals. In many cases, personal data is the price people pay to obtain a product or service – ‘free’ browsers, ‘free’ email accounts, ‘free’ social network accounts, etc. But not always. Increasingly, we’re surrounded by smart devices that are capable of gathering details on the minutiae of our lives. Earlier this year, one journalist turned her apartment into a smart home in order to measure how much data was being collected by the firms that made the devices. Since we generally pay for such devices, the harvesting of data can hardly be seen as the price we pay for the benefits they bring in these cases.

Some data breaches have resulted in fines for the companies affected (the UK Information Commissioner’s Office fined Equifax and Facebook, for example). However, so far fines levied have been for breaches that occurred before the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May. The penalties for any serious breaches that occur in the future are likely to be much higher.

There’s no such thing as 100% security, of course. But any organization that holds personal data has a duty of care to secure it effectively. And where a breach results in the theft of personal information, companies should alert their customers in a timely manner, enabling them to take steps to limit the potential damage that can occur.

While there’s nothing that we, as individuals, can do to prevent the theft of our personal information from an online provider, it’s important that we take steps to secure our online accounts and to minimize the impact of any breach – in particular, by using unique passwords for each site, and by using two-factor authentication.

McAfee Labs 2019 Threats Predictions Report

These predictions were written by Eoin Carroll, Taylor Dunton, John Fokker, German Lancioni, Lee Munson, Yukihiro Okutomi, Thomas Roccia, Raj Samani, Sekhar Sarukkai, Dan Sommer, and Carl Woodward.

As 2018 draws to a close, we should perhaps be grateful that the year has not been entirely dominated by ransomware, although the rise of the GandCrab and SamSam variants show that the threat remains active. Our predictions for 2019 move away from simply providing an assessment on the rise or fall of a particular threat, and instead focus on current rumblings we see in the cybercriminal underground that we expect to grow into trends and subsequently threats in the wild.

We have witnessed greater collaboration among cybercriminals exploiting the underground market, which has allowed them to develop efficiencies in their products. Cybercriminals have been partnering in this way for years; in 2019 this market economy will only expand. The game of cat and mouse the security industry plays with ransomware developers will escalate, and the industry will need to respond more quickly and effectively than ever before.

Social media has been a part of our lives for more than a decade. Recently, nation-states have infamously used social media platforms to spread misinformation. In 2019, we expect criminals to begin leveraging those tactics for their own gain. Equally, the continued growth of the Internet of Things in the home will inspire criminals to target those devices for monetary gain.

One thing is certain: Our dependency on technology has become ubiquitous. Consider the breaches of identity platforms, with reports of 50 million users being affected. It is no longer the case that a breach is limited to that platform. Everything is connected, and you are only as strong as your weakest link. In the future, we face the question of which of our weakest links will be compromised.

—Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and McAfee Fellow, Advanced Threat Research

Twitter @Raj_Samani

 

Predictions

Cybercriminal Underground to Consolidate, Create More Partnerships to Boost Threats

Artificial Intelligence the Future of Evasion Techniques

Synergistic Threats Will Multiply, Requiring Combined Responses

Misinformation, Extortion Attempts to Challenge Organizations’ Brands

Data Exfiltration Attacks to Target the Cloud

Voice-Controlled Digital Assistants the Next Vector in Attacking IoT Devices

Cybercriminals to Increase Attacks on Identity Platforms and Edge Devices Under Siege

Cybercriminal Underground to Consolidate, Create More Partnerships to Boost Threats

Hidden hacker forums and chat groups serve as a market for cybercriminals, who can buy malware, exploits, botnets, and other shady services. With these off-the-shelf products, criminals of varying experience and sophistication can easily launch attacks. In 2019, we predict the underground will consolidate, creating fewer but stronger malware-as-a-service families that will actively work together. These increasingly powerful brands will drive more sophisticated cryptocurrency mining, rapid exploitation of new vulnerabilities, and increases in mobile malware and stolen credit cards and credentials.

We expect more affiliates to join the biggest families, due to the ease of operation and strategic alliances with other essential top-level services, including exploit kits, crypter services, Bitcoin mixers, and counter-antimalware services. Two years ago, we saw many of the largest ransomware families, for example, employ affiliate structures. We still see numerous types of ransomware pop up, but only a few survive because most cannot attract enough business to compete with the strong brands, which offer higher infection rates as well as operational and financial security. At the moment the largest families actively advertise their goods; business is flourishing because they are strong brands (see GandCrab) allied with other top-level services, such as money laundering or making malware undetectable.

Underground businesses function successfully because they are part of a trust-based system. This may not be a case of “honor among thieves,” yet criminals appear to feel safe, trusting they cannot be touched in the inner circle of their forums. We have seen this trust in the past, for example, with the popular credit card shops in the first decade of the century, which were a leading source of cybercrime until major police action broke the trust model.

As endpoint detection grows stronger, the vulnerable remote desktop protocol (RDP) offers another path for cybercriminals. In 2019 we predict malware, specifically ransomware, will increasingly use RDP as an entry point for an infection. Currently, most underground shops advertise RDP access for purposes other than ransomware, typically using it as a stepping stone to gain access to Amazon accounts or as a proxy to steal credit cards. Targeted ransomware groups and ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) models will take advantage of RDP, and we have seen highly successful under-the-radar schemes use this tactic. Attackers find a system with weak RDP, attack it with ransomware, and propagate through networks either living off the land or using worm functionality (EternalBlue). There is evidence that the author of GandCrab is already working on an RDP option.

We also expect malware related to cryptocurrency mining will become more sophisticated, selecting which currency to mine on a victim’s machine based on the processing hardware (WebCobra) and the value of a specific currency at a given time.

Next year, we predict the length of a vulnerability’s life, from detection to weaponization, will grow even shorter. We have noticed a trend of cybercriminals becoming more agile in their development process. They gather data on flaws from online forums and the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database to add to their malware. We predict that criminals will sometimes take a day or only hours to implement attacks against the latest weaknesses in software and hardware.

We expect to see an increase in underground discussions on mobile malware, mostly focused on Android, regarding botnets, banking fraud, ransomware, and bypassing two-factor authentication security. The value of exploiting the mobile platform is currently underestimated as phones offer a lot to cybercriminals given the amount of access they have to sensitive information such as bank accounts.

Credit card fraud and the demand for stolen credit card details will continue, with an increased focus on online skimming operations that target third-party payment platforms on large e-commerce sites. From these sites, criminals can silently steal thousands of fresh credit cards details at a time. Furthermore, social media is being used to recruit unwitting users, who might not know they are working for criminals when they reship goods or provide financial services.

We predict an increase in the market for stolen credentials—fueled by recent large data breaches and by bad password habits of users. The breaches lead, for example, to the sale of voter records and email-account hacking. These attacks occur daily.

Artificial Intelligence the Future of Evasion Techniques

To increase their chances of success, attackers have long employed evasion techniques to bypass security measures and avoid detection and analysis. Packers, crypters, and other tools are common components of attackers’ arsenals. In fact, an entire underground economy has emerged, offering products and dedicated services to aid criminal activities. We predict in 2019, due to the ease with which criminals can now outsource key components of their attacks, evasion techniques will become more agile due to the application of artificial intelligence. Think the counter-AV industry is pervasive now? This is just the beginning.

In 2018 we saw new process-injection techniques such as “process doppelgänging” with the SynAck ransomware, and PROPagate injection delivered by the RigExploit Kit. By adding technologies such as artificial intelligence, evasion techniques will be able to further circumvent protections.

Different evasions for different malware

In 2018, we observed the emergence of new threats such as cryptocurrency miners, which hijack the resources of infected machines. With each threat comes inventive evasion techniques:

  • Cryptocurrency mining: Miners implement a number of evasion techniques. One example is WaterMiner, which simply stops its mining process when the victim runs the Task Manager or an antimalware scan.
  • Exploit kits: Popular evasion techniques include process injection or the manipulation of memory space and adding arbitrary code. In-memory injection is a popular infection vector for avoiding detection during delivery.
  • Botnets: Code obfuscation or anti-disassembling techniques are often used by large botnets that infect thousands of victims. In May 2018, AdvisorsBot was discovered using junk code, fake conditional instructions, XOR encryption, and even API hashing. Because bots tend to spread widely, the authors implemented many evasion techniques to slow reverse engineering. They also used obfuscation mechanisms for communications between the bots and control servers. Criminals use botnets for activities such as DDOS for hire, proxies, spam, or other malware delivery. Using evasion techniques is critical for criminals to avoid or delay botnet takedowns.
  • Advanced persistent threats: Stolen certificates bought on the cybercriminal underground are often used in targeted attacks to bypass antimalware detection. Attackers also use low-level malware such as rootkits or firmware-based threats. For example, in 2018 ESET discovered the first UEFI rootkit, LoJax. Security researchers have also seen destructive features used as anti-forensic techniques: The OlympicDestroyer malware targeted the Olympic Games organization and erased event logs and backups to avoid investigation.

Artificial intelligence the next weapon

In recent years, we have seen malware using evasion techniques to bypass machine learning engines. For example, in 2017 the Cerber ransomware dropped legitimate files on systems to trick the engine that classifies files. In 2018, PyLocky ransomware used InnoSetup to package the malware and avoid machine learning detection.

Clearly, bypassing artificial intelligence engines is already on the criminal to-do list; however, criminals can also implement artificial intelligence in their malicious software. We expect evasion techniques to begin leveraging artificial intelligence to automate target selection, or to check infected environments before deploying later stages and avoiding detection.

Such implementation is game changing in the threat landscape. We predict it will soon be found in the wild.

Synergistic Threats Will Multiply, Requiring Combined Responses

This year we have seen cyber threats adapt and pivot faster than ever. We have seen ransomware evolving to be more effective or operate as a smoke screen. We have seen cryptojacking soar, as it provides a better, and safer, return on investment than ransomware. We can still see phishing going strong and finding new vulnerabilities to exploit. We also noticed fileless and “living off the land” threats are more slippery and evasive than ever, and we have even seen the incubation of steganography malware in the Pyeongchang Olympics campaign. In 2019, we predict attackers will more frequently combine these tactics to create multifaced, or synergistic, threats.

What could be worse?

Attacks are usually centered on the use of one threat. Bad actors concentrate their efforts on iterating and evolving one threat at a time for effectiveness and evasion. When an attack is successful, it is classified as ransomware, cryptojacking, data exfiltration, etc., and defenses are put in place. At this point, the attack’s success rate is significantly reduced. However, if a sophisticated attack involves not one but five top-notch threats synergistically working together, the defense panorama could become very blurry. The challenge arises when an attempt is made to identify and mitigate the attack. Because the ultimate attack goals are unknown, one might get lost in the details of each threat as it plays a role in the chain.

One of the reasons synergic threats are becoming a reality is because bad actors are improving their skills by developing foundations, kits, and reusable threat components. As attackers organize their efforts into a black-market business model, they can focus on adding value to previous building blocks. This strategy allows them to orchestrate multiple threats instead of just one to reach their goals.

An example is worth a thousand words

Imagine an attack that starts with a phishing threat—not a typical campaign using Word documents, but a novel technique. This phishing email contains a video attachment. When you open the video, your video player does not play and prompts you to update the codec. Once you run the update, a steganographic polyglot file (a simple GIF) is deployed on your system. Because it is a polyglot (a file that conforms to more than one format at the same time), the GIF file schedules a task that fetches a fileless script hosted on a compromised system. That script running in memory evaluates your system and decides to run either ransomware or a cryptocurrency miner. That is a dangerous synergistic threat in action.

The attack raises many questions: What are you dealing with? Is it phishing 2.0? Is it stegware? Is it fileless and “living off the land”? Cryptojacking? Ransomware? It is everything at the same time.

This sophisticated but feasible example demonstrates that focusing on one threat may not be enough to detect or remediate an attack. When you aim to classify the attack into a single category, you might lose the big picture and thus be less effective mitigating it. Even if you stop the attack in the middle of the chain, discovering the initial and final stages is as important for protecting against future attempts.

Be curious, be creative, connect your defenses

Tackling sophisticated attacks based on synergic threats requires questioning every threat. What if this ransomware hit was part of something bigger? What if this phishing email pivots to a technique that employees are not trained for? What if we are missing the real goal of the attack?

Bearing these questions in mind will not only help capture the big picture, but also get the most of security solutions. We predict bad actors will add synergy to their attacks, but cyber defenses can also work synergistically.

Cybercriminals to Use Social Media Misinformation, Extortion Campaigns to Challenge Organizations’ Brands

The elections were influenced, fake news prevails, and our social media followers are all foreign government–controlled bots. At least that’s how the world feels sometimes. To say recent years have been troubled for social media companies would be an understatement. During this period a game of cat and mouse has ensued, as automated accounts are taken down, adversaries tactics evolve, and botnet accounts emerge looking more legitimate than ever before. In 2019, we predict an increase of misinformation and extortion campaigns via social media that will focus on brands and originate not from nation-state actors but from criminal groups.

Nation-states leverage bot battalions to deliver messages or manipulate opinion, and their effectiveness is striking. Bots often will take both sides of a story to spur debate, and this tactic works. By employing a system of amplifying nodes, as well as testing the messaging (including hashtags) to determine success rates, botnet operators demonstrate a real understanding of how to mold popular opinion on critical issues.

In one example, an account that was only two weeks old with 279 followers, most of which were other bots, began a harassment campaign against an organization. By amplification, the account generated an additional 1,500 followers in only four weeks by simply tweeting malicious content about their target.

Activities to manipulate public opinion have been well documented and bots well versed in manipulating conversations to drive agendas stand ready. Next year we expect that cybercriminals will repurpose these campaigns to extort companies by threatening to damage their brands. Organizations face a serious danger.

Data Exfiltration Attacks to Target the Cloud

In the past two years, enterprises have widely adopted the Software-as-a-Service model, such as Office 365, as well as Infrastructure- and Platform-as-a-Service cloud models, such as AWS and Azure. With this move, far more corporate data now resides in the cloud. In 2019, we expect a significant increase in attacks that follow the data to the cloud.

With the increased adoption of Office 365, we have noticed a surge of attacks on the service— especially attempts to compromise email. One threat the McAfee cloud team uncovered was the botnet KnockKnock, which targeted system accounts that typically do not have multifactor authentication. We have also seen the emergence of exploits of the trust model in the Open Authorization standard. One was launched by Fancy Bear, the Russian cyber espionage group, phishing users with a fake Google security app to gain access to user data.

Similarly, during the last couple of years we have seen many high-profile data breaches attributed to misconfigured Amazon S3 buckets. This is clearly not the fault of AWS. Based on the shared responsibility model, the customer is on the hook to properly configure IaaS/PaaS infrastructure and properly protect their enterprise data and user access. Complicating matters, many of these misconfigured buckets are owned by vendors in their supply chains, rather than by the target enterprises. With access to thousands of open buckets and credentials, bad actors are increasingly opting for these easy pickings.

McAfee has found that 21% of data in the cloud is sensitive—such as intellectual property, and customer and personal data—according to the McAfee Cloud Adoption and Risk Report. With a 33% increase in users collaborating on this data during the past year, cybercriminals know how to seek more targets:

  • Cloud-native attacks targeting weak APIs or ungoverned API endpoints to gain access to the data in SaaS as well as in PaaS and serverless workloads
  • Expanded reconnaissance and exfiltration of data in cloud databases (PaaS or custom applications deployed in IaaS) expanding the S3 exfiltration vector to structured data in databases or data lakes
  • Leveraging the cloud as a springboard for cloud-native man-in-the-middle attacks (such as GhostWriter, which exploits publicly writable S3 buckets introduced due to customer misconfigurations) to launch cryptojacking or ransomware attacks into other variants of MITM attacks.

Voice-Controlled Digital Assistants the Next Vector in Attacking IoT Devices

As tech fans continue to fill their homes with smart gadgets, from plugs to TVs, coffee makers to refrigerators, and motion sensors to lighting, the means of gaining entry to a home network are growing rapidly, especially given how poorly secured many IoT devices remain.

But the real key to the network door next year will be the voice-controlled digital assistant, a device created in part to manage all the IoT devices within a home. As sales increase—and an explosion in adoption over the holiday season looks likely—the attraction for cybercriminals to use assistants to jump to the really interesting devices on a network will only continue to grow.

For now, the voice assistant market is still taking shape, with many brands still looking to dominate the market, in more ways than one, and it is unclear whether one device will become ubiquitous. If one does take the lead, its security features will quite rightly fall under the microscope of the media, though not perhaps before its privacy concerns have been fully examined in prose.

(Last year we highlighted privacy as the key concern for home IoT devices. Privacy will continue to be a concern, but cybercriminals will put more effort into building botnets, demanding ransoms, and threatening the destruction of property of both homes and businesses).

This opportunity to control a home’s or office’s devices will not go unnoticed by cybercriminals, who will engage in an altogether different type of writing in relation to the market winner, in the form of malicious code designed to attack not only IoT devices but also the digital assistants that are given so much license to talk to them.

Smartphones have already served as the door to a threat. In 2019, they may well become the picklock that opens a much larger door. We have already seen two threats that demonstrate what cybercriminals can do with unprotected devices, in the form of the Mirai botnet, which first struck in 2016, and IoT Reaper, in 2017. These IoT malware appeared in many variants to attack connected devices such as routers, network video recorders, and IP cameras. They expanded their reach by password cracking and exploiting known vulnerabilities to build worldwide robot networks.

Next year we expect to see two main vectors for attacking home IoT devices: routers and smartphones/ tablets. The Mirai botnet demonstrated the lack of security in routers. Infected smartphones, which can already monitor and control home devices, will become one of the top targets of cybercriminals, who will employ current and new techniques to take control.

Malware authors will take advantage of phones and tablets, those already trusted controllers, to try to take over IoT devices by password cracking and exploiting vulnerabilities. These attacks will not appear suspicious because the network traffic comes from a trusted device. The success rate of attacks will increase, and the attack routes will be difficult to identify. An infected smartphone could cause the next example of hijacking the DNS settings on a router. Vulnerabilities in mobile and cloud apps are also ripe for exploitation, with smartphones at the core of the criminals’ strategy.

Infected IoT devices will supply botnets, which can launch DDoS attacks, as well as steal personal data. The more sophisticated IoT malware will exploit voice-controlled digital assistants to hide its suspicious activities from users and home-network security software. Malicious activities such as opening doors and connecting to control servers could be triggered by user voice commands (“Play music” and “What is today’s weather?”). Soon we may hear infected IoT devices themselves exclaiming: “Assistant! Open the back door!”

Cybercriminals to Increase Attacks on Identity Platforms and Edge Devices Under Siege

Large-scale data breaches of identity platforms—which offer centralized secure authentication and authorization of users, devices, and services across IT environments—have been well documented in 2018. Meanwhile, the captured data is being reused to cause further misery for its victims. In 2019, we expect to see large-scale social media platforms implement additional measures to protect customer information. However, as the platforms grow in numbers, we predict criminals will further focus their resources on such attractive, data-rich environments. The struggle between criminals and big-scale platforms will be the next big battleground.

Triton, malware that attacks industrial control systems (ICS), has demonstrated the capabilities of adversaries to remotely target manufacturing environments through their adjacent IT environments. Identity platform and “edge device” breaches will provide the keys to adversaries to launch future remote ICS attacks due to static password use across environments and constrained edge devices, which lack secure system requirements due to design limitations. (An edge device is any network-enabled system hardware or protocol within an IoT product.) We expect multifactor authentication and identity intelligence will become the best methods to provide security in this escalating battle. We also predict identity intelligence will complement multifactor authentication to strengthen the capabilities of identity platforms.

Identity is a fundamental component in securing IoT. In these ecosystems, devices and services must securely identify trusted devices so that they can ignore the rest. The identity model has shifted from user centric in traditional IT systems to machine centric for IoT systems. Unfortunately, due to the integration of operational technology and insecure “edge device” design, the IoT trust model is built on a weak foundation of assumed trust and perimeter-based security.

At Black Hat USA and DEF CON 2018, 30 talks discussed IoT edge device exploitation. That’s a large increase from just 19 talks on the topic in 2017. The increase in interest was primarily in relation to ICS, consumer, medical, and “smart city” verticals. (See Figure 1.) Smart edge devices, combined with high-speed connectivity, are enabling IoT ecosystems, but the rate at which they are advancing is compromising the security of these systems.

Figure 1: The number of conference sessions on the security of IoT devices has increased, matching the growing threat to poorly protected devices. 

Most IoT edge devices provide no self-defense (isolating critical functions, memory protection, firmware protection, least privileges, or security by default) so one successful exploit owns the device. IoT edge devices also suffer from “break once, run everywhere” attacks—due to insecure components used across many device types and verticals. (See articles on WingOS and reverse engineering.)

McAfee Advanced Threat Research team engineers have demonstrated how medical device protocols can be exploited to endanger human life and compromise patients’ privacy due to assumed trust. These examples illustrate just a few of many possible scenarios that lead us to believe adversaries will choose IoT edge devices as the path of least resistance to achieve their objectives. Servers have been hardened over the last decade, but IoT hardware is far behind. By understanding an adversary’s motives and opportunities (attack surface and access capability), we can define a set of security requirements independent of a specific attack vector.

Figure 2 gives a breakdown of the types of vulnerabilities in IoT edge devices, highlighting weak points to address by building identity and integrity capabilities into edge hardware to ensure these devices can deflect attacks.

Figure 2: Insecure protocols are the primary attack surface in IoT edge devices.

IoT security must begin on the edge with a zero-trust model and provide a hardware root of trust as the core building block for protecting against hack and shack attacks and other threats. McAfee predicts an increase in compromises on identity platforms and IoT edge devices in 2019 due to the adoption of smart cities and increased ICS activity.

The post McAfee Labs 2019 Threats Predictions Report appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Professionally Evil Insights: Spring Break without Breaking the Bank: Hands On Training

Over the last eight years, one of the main focuses of Secure Ideas has been education.  One responsibility we take very seriously is that of growing the skills within our clients and the public, with the objective of raising the bar in security.  This mindset and core passion of Secure Ideas is because we all believe that we stand on the shoulders of giants. As each of us has grown into the roles we currently hold, we were not only shaped and developed by our own experiences, but also by the knowledge shared by others.  This desire to learn and grow is one of the main things that make me proud to be a part of the security community.

However, there are a couple of significant problems with our industry:  First, information security needs are growing faster than skilled personnel are learning.  Second, the cost of training has increased outrageously over the past decade.

The first issue has been discussed for almost as long as I have been involved in information security.  Even Alan Paller of the SANS Institute has been speaking about the skills gap for over a decade!  The second issue is even worse as it makes it harder to fix the first.  Training costs for a single class often exceed $5000 without even factoring in travel and the time away from work. So how do we fix this?

At Secure Ideas, we have decided that it is our responsibility as active practitioners to help fix this lack of affordable training and help address the skills gap.  To that end, we are committed to the following for 2019:

  1. First, we want to announce our Professionally Evil Spring Break event.  This 3-day event will host two classes; Professionally Evil Network Security and Professionally Evil Application Security.  The first will focus on network penetration testing and the second focuses on application security and assessments. Either class is only $750, discounted to an early bird price of $600 until January 18, 2019.  Moreover veterans, active duty military and first responders get either for 50% off.
  2. Second, our Secure Ideas Training site has recorded classes starting at $25 each and vets get them for free!  And our webcasts will continue to be run as often as we can.
  3. Third, we will continue to support and release our open-source training products such as SamuraiWTF and the Professionally Evil Web Penetration Testing 101 course.

We hope that together we can all help increase the skills of our industry and provide affordable training for all.  Let us know if you have any questions or if you would like us to run a private training for your organization.



Professionally Evil Insights

How to Prepare for the Coming 5G Security Threats

Over the next few years, the pace of business will accelerate exponentially. 5G will enable the future enterprise technologies everyone is predicting and waiting for: fleets of self-driving delivery trucks, virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR), and a world of enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) deployments — systems that will define an era that the World Economic Forum termed the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” But do we understand the 5G security threats to come?

5G will provide super-high data rates, better quality of service and very low latency through dense base station deployments. As a result, we’ll likely depend on 5G far more than we ever did previous communications systems. Factories, businesses and critical infrastructure will all rely on 5G data connectivity, and this technology will transform business models and network infrastructures.

However, it’s important to note that this increased dependency on communications networks will also entail a greater capacity for disaster should they be compromised.

What Are the Greatest 5G Security Threats?

In a paper titled “A Formal Analysis of 5G Authentication,” researchers from ETH Zurich, the University of Lorraine and the University of Dundee warned that 5G could usher in a new era of security threats. In a nutshell, they found that 5G presents new risks because:

  • It’s an immature and insufficiently tested set of technologies;
  • It enables the movement and access of vastly higher quantities of data, and thus broadens attack surfaces; and
  • We will depend on it more than 4G for mission-critical applications.

With the rapid growth and change expected to come, what we don’t know very well may hurt us.

Check the Research

Like 3G and 4G networks, the existing 5G standard employs something called the Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA), which is a system for enabling networks to trust each other. The researchers performed a comprehensive analysis of security issues in the 5G network and discovered that the 5G AKA has at least two major vulnerabilities. First, it enables one malicious user to move usage charges to another user. Second, it’s possible to find nearby phones, which enables tracking of other users.

The 5G standard should be updated as soon as possible to prevent threat actors from exploiting these flaws.

Consider the SOC

Meanwhile, the frontline experts — information security teams, IT security specialists, security operations center (SOC) leaders — should be concerned about 5G because of its unique properties. In the real world, 5G represents higher costs than 4G networks for new equipment, plus unknown costs of integrating 4G and 5G systems. That stresses budgets, and enterprise leaders could put pressure on IT teams to favor 5G rollouts and possibly skimp on addressing security issues in the 5G network — a line item already hard fought for in many organizations.

Also, the higher 5G data throughput interfaces a vastly larger attack surface with more mission-critical applications. There are more potential entry points, and the consequences of an attack are proportionally greater. Enabled by 5G, the number of IoT devices alone is expected to rise from 7 billion today to 21.5 billion by 2025, according to IoT Analytics. This will enlarge the attack surface for such devices to an unimaginable size, and the capacity for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, cryptojacking and other compromises could increase exponentially.

How to Cultivate a 5G State of Mind

Although 5G is new and will usher in entirely new models for how things get done, it must be built on a solid foundation of network security. Many of the risks will lie in the scale and type of new 5G-enabled categories of infrastructure. IoT security is a known problem with known solutions. 5G will magnify whatever insecurity exists in processes, procedures and policies for IoT, and protections must scale up in proportion.

5G will enable entirely new services, and the costs for securing these services must be accounted for. 5G will be expensive, the new services will be expensive and the security to make it all happen will also be expensive. Don’t skimp on one area to pay for the other; deploy 5G securely or don’t deploy it at all.

Pressure to rush headlong into 5G deployments will come from every direction. But smart deployments will go slowly, building the foundation in advance of the new infrastructure with endpoint management solutions powered by artificial intelligence that can monitor the expanding attack surface as no human can do alone.

You’ll continue to hear about how much more secure 5G is than 4G. Don’t let the hype and excitement breed complacency. 5G is a brave new world for business, but also for threat actors. Although 5G represents a plethora of possibilities, we must build the future on a familiar foundation of secure networks and best practices. Improve existing networks first, and roll out individual 5G services over time and with care to make the best of the coming revolution.

The post How to Prepare for the Coming 5G Security Threats appeared first on Security Intelligence.

McAfee Blogs: 8 Ways to Secure Your Family’s Online Holiday Shopping

It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year — no doubt about it. But each year, as our reliance and agility on our mobile devices increases, so too might our impulsivity and even inattention when it comes to digital transactions.

Before getting caught up in the whirlwind of gift giving and the thrill of the perfect purchase, consider taking a small pause. Stop to consider that as giddy as you may be to find that perfect gift, hackers are just as giddy this time of year to catch shoppers unaware and snatch what they can from the deep, digital holiday coffers. In fact, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the number one cybercrime of 2017 was related to online shopping; specifically, payment for or non-delivery of goods purchased.

8 Ways to Secure Your Family’s Holiday Shopping Online

  1. Make it a family discussion. Make no assumptions when it comes to what your kids do and do not understand (and practice) when it comes to shopping safely online. Go over the points below as a family. Because kids are nearly 100% mobile, online shopping and transactions can move swiftly, and the chances of making a mistake or falling prey to a scam can increase. Caution kids to slow down and examine every website and link in the buying journey.
  2. Beware of malicious links. The most common forms of fraud and cyber attacks are phishing scams and socially-engineered malware. Check links before you click them and consider using McAfee® WebAdvisor, a free download that safeguards you from malware and phishing attempts while you surf — without impacting your browsing performance.
  3. Don’t shop on unsecured wi-fi. Most public networks don’t encrypt transmitted data, which makes all your online activity on public wi-fi vulnerable to hackers. Resist shopping on an unsecured wireless network (at a coffee shop, library, airport). Instead, do all of your online shopping from your secure home computer. If you have to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection use a virtual private network (VPN) such as McAfee® SafeConnect to maintain a secure connection in public places. To be sure your home network is safe, secure your router.
  4. Is that site legit? Before purchasing a product online, check the URL carefully. If the address bar says “HTTP” instead of “HTTPS” in its URL, do not purchase from the site. As of July 2018, unsecured sites now include a “Not Secure” warning, which is very helpful to shoppers. Also, an icon of a locked padlock will appear to the left of the URL in the address bar or the status bar down below depending on your browser. Cybercriminals can make a fake site look very close to the real thing. One added step: Google the site if anything feels wrong about it, and you may find some unlucky consumers sharing their stories.
  5. Review bills closely. Review your credit card statements in January and February, when your holiday purchases will show up. Credit cards offer better fraud protection than debit. So, if you’re shopping online during the holidays, give yourself an extra layer of protection from scams by using a credit card. Think about using the same card between family members to make checking your bill easier.
  6. Create new, strong passwords. If you are getting ready to do a lot of shopping online, it’s a great time to update your passwords. Download a free password manager, which auto-saves and enters your passwords, so you don’t have to. The True Key app protects your passwords by scrambling them with AES-256, one of the most robust encryption algorithms available.
  7. Verify charities. One of the best things about the holidays is the spirit of giving. Hackers and crooks know this and are working hard to trick innocent givers. This reality means that some seasonal charities may be well-devised scams. Before you donate, be sure to do a little research. Look at the website’s URL; it’s design, its security badges. Google the charity and see if any scams have been reported.
  8. Protect your data from third parties. Sites may contain “third parties,” which are other embedded websites your browser talks to such as advertisers, website analytics engines, that can watch your browsing behavior. To protect your data when shopping and get rid of third-party access, you need to wipe your cookies (data trackers) clean using your settings, then change your browser settings (choose “block third-party cookies and site data”) to make sure the cookies can’t track your buying behavior. You can also go into your settings and direct your browser to shop in private or incognito mode.

No one is immune to holiday scams. Many scams are intricately designed and executed so that even the savviest consumer is duped. You can enjoy the shopping that comes with the holidays by keeping these few safety precautions in mind. Don’t let your emotional desire for that perfect gift override your reasoning skills. Listen to your intuition when it comes to suspicious websites, offers, emails, pop-up ads, and apps. Pause. Analyze. And make sure you are purchasing from a legitimate site.

Stay safe and WIN: Now that you’ve read about safe shopping basics, head over to our Protect What Matters site. If you successfully complete the Holiday Online Shopping Adventure quiz, you can enter your email address for the chance to win a tech prize pack with some of this season’s hottest smart gadgets. Have fun, and stay safe online this holiday season!

 

The post 8 Ways to Secure Your Family’s Online Holiday Shopping appeared first on McAfee Blogs.



McAfee Blogs

8 Ways to Secure Your Family’s Online Holiday Shopping

It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year — no doubt about it. But each year, as our reliance and agility on our mobile devices increases, so too might our impulsivity and even inattention when it comes to digital transactions.

Before getting caught up in the whirlwind of gift giving and the thrill of the perfect purchase, consider taking a small pause. Stop to consider that as giddy as you may be to find that perfect gift, hackers are just as giddy this time of year to catch shoppers unaware and snatch what they can from the deep, digital holiday coffers. In fact, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the number one cybercrime of 2017 was related to online shopping; specifically, payment for or non-delivery of goods purchased.

8 Ways to Secure Your Family’s Holiday Shopping Online

  1. Make it a family discussion. Make no assumptions when it comes to what your kids do and do not understand (and practice) when it comes to shopping safely online. Go over the points below as a family. Because kids are nearly 100% mobile, online shopping and transactions can move swiftly, and the chances of making a mistake or falling prey to a scam can increase. Caution kids to slow down and examine every website and link in the buying journey.
  2. Beware of malicious links. The most common forms of fraud and cyber attacks are phishing scams and socially-engineered malware. Check links before you click them and consider using McAfee® WebAdvisor, a free download that safeguards you from malware and phishing attempts while you surf — without impacting your browsing performance.
  3. Don’t shop on unsecured wi-fi. Most public networks don’t encrypt transmitted data, which makes all your online activity on public wi-fi vulnerable to hackers. Resist shopping on an unsecured wireless network (at a coffee shop, library, airport). Instead, do all of your online shopping from your secure home computer. If you have to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection use a virtual private network (VPN) such as McAfee® SafeConnect to maintain a secure connection in public places. To be sure your home network is safe, secure your router.
  4. Is that site legit? Before purchasing a product online, check the URL carefully. If the address bar says “HTTP” instead of “HTTPS” in its URL, do not purchase from the site. As of July 2018, unsecured sites now include a “Not Secure” warning, which is very helpful to shoppers. Also, an icon of a locked padlock will appear to the left of the URL in the address bar or the status bar down below depending on your browser. Cybercriminals can make a fake site look very close to the real thing. One added step: Google the site if anything feels wrong about it, and you may find some unlucky consumers sharing their stories.
  5. Review bills closely. Review your credit card statements in January and February, when your holiday purchases will show up. Credit cards offer better fraud protection than debit. So, if you’re shopping online during the holidays, give yourself an extra layer of protection from scams by using a credit card. Think about using the same card between family members to make checking your bill easier.
  6. Create new, strong passwords. If you are getting ready to do a lot of shopping online, it’s a great time to update your passwords. Download a free password manager, which auto-saves and enters your passwords, so you don’t have to. The True Key app protects your passwords by scrambling them with AES-256, one of the most robust encryption algorithms available.
  7. Verify charities. One of the best things about the holidays is the spirit of giving. Hackers and crooks know this and are working hard to trick innocent givers. This reality means that some seasonal charities may be well-devised scams. Before you donate, be sure to do a little research. Look at the website’s URL; it’s design, its security badges. Google the charity and see if any scams have been reported.
  8. Protect your data from third parties. Sites may contain “third parties,” which are other embedded websites your browser talks to such as advertisers, website analytics engines, that can watch your browsing behavior. To protect your data when shopping and get rid of third-party access, you need to wipe your cookies (data trackers) clean using your settings, then change your browser settings (choose “block third-party cookies and site data”) to make sure the cookies can’t track your buying behavior. You can also go into your settings and direct your browser to shop in private or incognito mode.

No one is immune to holiday scams. Many scams are intricately designed and executed so that even the savviest consumer is duped. You can enjoy the shopping that comes with the holidays by keeping these few safety precautions in mind. Don’t let your emotional desire for that perfect gift override your reasoning skills. Listen to your intuition when it comes to suspicious websites, offers, emails, pop-up ads, and apps. Pause. Analyze. And make sure you are purchasing from a legitimate site.

Stay safe and WIN: Now that you’ve read about safe shopping basics, head over to our Protect What Matters site. If you successfully complete the Holiday Online Shopping Adventure quiz, you can enter your email address for the chance to win a tech prize pack with some of this season’s hottest smart gadgets. Have fun, and stay safe online this holiday season!

 

The post 8 Ways to Secure Your Family’s Online Holiday Shopping appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

13 Malware-Laden Fake Apps on Google Play

A security researcher used Twitter to warn users about about malware embedded in fake apps available on Google Play. Lukas Stefanko, malware researcher at ESET, reported the malicious apps to

The post 13 Malware-Laden Fake Apps on Google Play appeared first on The Cyber Security Place.

The Forrester Wave: Unified Endpoint Management, Q4 2018 — New Acronyms, New Leaders and How Device Management Has Evolved

The “2018 Forrester Wave: Unified Endpoint Management, Q4 2018” has arrived. Although this is the first-ever Wave to cover this segment, unified endpoint management (UEM) is already ubiquitous.

For any I&O pro well-versed in the world of mobile device management (MDM) and enterprise mobility management (EMM), UEM is the next phase of the evolution. It’s being touted by analysts and insiders alike.

But for the uninitiated, what is UEM?

Forrester defines UEM as: “Products that provide a centralized policy engine for managing and securing employee laptops and mobile devices from a single console.”

In short, a UEM platform is one that converges client-based management techniques with MDM application programming interfaces (APIs). With the workforce — and the operating systems (OS) supporting it — becoming increasingly mobile, going the traditional route of placing Windows PCs, Apple Macs, and smartphones and tablets in separate silos hinders productivity. It’s not uncommon for workers to use up to three device types a day to complete their work. Managing each of those via disparate platforms provides a fractured view of the user, increases expenditures and consumes more IT support resources than necessary.

Read the report

Analyzing the Analysts: Breaking Down the 2018 Forrester Wave

In the inaugural 2018 report, Forrester found that I&O professionals are geared toward finding the most comprehensive management and security platforms for all OSs. These platforms not only perform the functions of a typical CMT or EMM tool, but also include additional controls for managing the end users themselves — identity and access management (IAM), mobile threat detection (MTD), and a wide range of supported OSs.

In short, it is Forrester’s opinion that UEM is critical to strike the balance between security and employee experience. Employees want anytime, anywhere access to mission-critical data — such as email and internal applications — but this cannot compromise data security.

This move toward a wholly mobile workforce could be due to the advent of Windows 10. In this year’s Wave Report, Forrester found that 47 percent of global IT decision-makers report implementing a UEM thanks to Microsoft’s simplification of Windows 10 management. Sixty percent of respondents also agreed with the statement that “we will manage Windows 10 devices with the same tools we use to manage mobile devices.”

Digging Into the Vendor Scorecard

The vendor landscape in 2018 has remained constant, but the platforms have made significant advancements. It is an evolution driven by four key differentiators Forrester defines:

  1. Support traditional and modern management techniques.
  2. Offer contextual IAM.
  3. Use analytics to help guide decision-making.
  4. Effectively serve the needs of highly regulated customers.

This year’s report evaluates 12 vendors against 28 criteria across Forrester’s typical categories:

  • Current Offering — Key criteria include OS support, update management, enterprise app store and more.
  • Strategy — Overall growth, road map execution and product vision.
  • Market Presence — Client base, devices-under-management and revenue.

The group of 12 was selected by having mind share among Forrester enterprise clients, among other factors. This indicates that moving forward, solutions offering this holistic, UEM approach will be the standard as providers continue to enhance and innovate their respective platforms.

How IBM Stacks Up: Top Score in Current Offering

So, where did IBM land in the first-ever Forrest UEM Wave? Consistent with past reports related to the industry, IBM’s MaaS360 with Watson was positioned as a Leader. And IBM’s MaaS360 received the highest score in the Current Offering category in the evaluation.

As mentioned, Forrester defines a leading UEM platform as one incorporating analytics, threat detection, identity and access management, and robustness of OSs supported. Let’s dive into some of our key takeaways around how IBM fits those criteria.

Isn’t It MaaS360 with Watson?

MaaS360’s integration with Watson delivers Advisor for cognitive analytics to notify IT administrators in real time of potential risks to their environment, from old OSs to malware that may affect enrolled devices and users.

Threat Detection is the Name of the Game

IBM’s MaaS360 bakes in the ability to detect and automate remediation of threats at the device, app and network levels — everything from jailbroken or rooted machines to malicious applications. Furthermore, MaaS360 has teamed up with Wandera to deliver visibility, policy and protection that satisfies the modern requirements of chief information officers (CIOs) and chief information security officers (CISOs).

Identity Is Integral to UEM

IBM’s MaaS360 provides out-of-the-box IAM capabilities, as well as integration with third-party identity providers, to allow organizations already working with an IAM provider an enhanced experience.

It’s Not Just a Smartphone and Tablet World

MaaS360 is device-agnostic, and it is now operating system-agnostic as well. Be it legacy Windows, Windows 10, iOS, ChromeOS, or any flavor of Android across ruggedized, standard, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, MaaS360 is there to support.

Check Out the Report for Yourself!

The goal of a strong unified endpoint management platform is simplifying management, enhancing security and providing a positive end-user experience. IBM is proud to be recognized as a Leader in this space, but don’t just take my word for it. Download the report to learn for yourself why many in IT and security have turned to UEM for their device and user management needs.

Read the report

The post The Forrester Wave: Unified Endpoint Management, Q4 2018 — New Acronyms, New Leaders and How Device Management Has Evolved appeared first on Security Intelligence.

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp Suffer a Major Outage

Days before Thanksgiving, three of the most popular social networking tools in the United States suffered a major outage. The blackout began being noticeable on Tuesday morning as hundreds of users reported that they are unable to access Facebook and Instagram. Many users shared that they are experiencing difficulties with other Facebook-owned apps such as the instant messaging service WhatsApp. The hashtag #FacebookDown immediately became a trending topic on the rival social network Twitter. Most of the affected users received the following error messages when they tried to access some of the Facebook services: “service unavailable” and “sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on it, and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can.”

Almost immediately, Facebook acknowledged the issue through the company’s Twitter profile. A tweet sent from Facebook’s official Twitter account said that they are aware that there are some people experiencing difficulties accessing the Facebook family of apps. Facebook confirmed that they are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Mark Zuckerberg’s communications team gave the same statement to ABC News a few hours after the outage was acknowledged on Twitter confirming the issue hasn’t been resolved yet. It is currently unknown if hackers are behind the outage, or it is an internal issue.

Who was affected by the Facebook outage?

The outage affected users living on the East Coast of the United States as well as people residing in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Portugal and the majority of Eastern Europe. South America’s Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia were also affected by the outage.

What caused the Facebook outage?

Facebook has not yet identified the source of the problem. Currently, no evidence confirms the outage is a result of a data breach or a cyber-attack.

How many people were affected?

There isn’t an official number of people who have been affected. However, Facebook apps are used by billions of people from all over the world, and even small glitches could impact hundreds of millions of people.

Facebook is going through tough times, and this is starting to be noticeable on the stock market – Facebook stock is continuing to dip. The outage won’t help Facebook get out of its track to post a three-month losing streak. This outage is also the company’s second for this month. According to Mark Zuckerberg’s communications team, the blackout that happened a couple of weeks ago was a result of a routine test that went bad. Facebook is currently unable to confirm if the incidents are related.

If you are reading this article and you are still unable to access Facebook or Instagram, it is very likely that Facebook is still investigating the issue and working on a resolution. You can see the status of this issue on Facebook for Developers here.

Download your Antivirus

The post Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp Suffer a Major Outage appeared first on Panda Security Mediacenter.

Malvertising in Apple Pay Targets iPhone Users

The Media Trust has discovered a recent malvertising campaign involving Apple Pay that is part of a large-scale phishing and redirect campaign targeting iPhone users visiting premium newspapers and magazines.

The post Malvertising in Apple Pay Targets iPhone Users appeared first on The Cyber Security Place.

Errors to avoid when downloading apps

There are literally millions of smartphone apps in existence, allowing you to do virtually anything from the palm of your hand. In fact, the humble smartphone has become the primary computing device for many people today.

The vast majority of these apps are perfectly safe, but there are bad apps out there. Apps that steal data, track your location without permission, or secretly share sensitive information with third parties for instance.

Worse still, these apps may look and act like the real thing, so you don’t even realise there’s a problem. So how can you avoid making the mistake of downloading a bad app?

Only use official app stores

For iPhone users, there is only one place to download apps – the official Apple App Store. Every app listed is checked by Apple to ensure that it is malware-free – and in most cases this process works very well.

Android users have a lot more choice – they can download and install software from any website or app store that they choose. But this flexibility brings an increased risk of installing a compromised app.

For this reason you should only ever download and install apps from official app stores like Google Play, the Amazon Appstore or the website of your handset manufacturer like Samsung. Each of these stores carry out checks on the quality and security of the apps available, offering a good degree of protection against malware.

You should never install apps from an unrecognised website. In fact, you should only install apps from one of these official, well-known app stores.

Ensure you have mobile anti-malware installed

As previously mentioned, most bad apps are very clever – the longer you have them installed, the more of your data they can steal. They will do everything possible to deflect attention so that you don’t notice there’s anything wrong.

It is possible to have malware installed on your phone for months – or maybe even years.

The biggest mistake most Android phone owners make is to leave their handset unprotected. Anti-malware, like Panda Mobile Security, can scan your smartphone for these bad apps and advise you that there is a problem. You then have early warning about malware – and the opportunity to delete it before your data is stolen.

You should also consider choosing a mobile security tool that uses a secure VPN service to protect your web traffic. A product like Panda Dome Advanced automatically blocks traffic to compromised websites (and dodgy app stores) – which means your data can’t be stolen, and you cannot download bad apps by accident.

Be sensible

The biggest mistake most people make is to simply download and use apps without thinking. By not stopping to think about where an app came from, or to check that the app is safe before installation, people are creating serious problems for themselves.

The good news is that a comprehensive mobile security service adds a layer of additional protection for when you forget to check where an app came from.

The final mistake people make? Not taking immediate action. Click here to download free antivirus for Android now.

Download Panda Mobile Security

The post Errors to avoid when downloading apps appeared first on Panda Security Mediacenter.

BYOD Posing Major Mobile Security Risks

More and more organisations are allowing employees to bring their own devices for work. More than four in five organisations allow their employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to

The post BYOD Posing Major Mobile Security Risks appeared first on The Cyber Security Place.

As Mobile Security Challenges Mount, How Can CIOs and CISOs Eliminate Blind Spots?

If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that mobile malware, malvertising and phishing attacks are growing. Organizations of all sizes and industries are at risk, and IT and security leaders responsible for managing endpoints and mobile security are well aware that their organizations’ data, customer privacy and brand reputation — just to name a few — are in the crosshairs of threat actors who stand to gain more than they have to lose.

Security professionals are desperately looking for tactful approaches to seek out and destroy mobile malware as it becomes more advanced and diverse, and as incidents become more common. With phishing, man-in-the-middle (MITM) and data exfiltration attacks on the rise, it’s never been more critical to cover all our bases and educate end users. And let’s not forget that threats come from all directions, not just the outside. In fact, employees are the weakest link; Workers are notorious for consuming massive amounts of data and inadvertently subjecting their organizations to legal and regulatory compliance violations.

Register for the Dec. 4 webinar

A Short List to Start Your Mobile Security Strategy

With so many distinct challenges to contend with, where can chief information security officers (CISOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) even begin to prioritize? At a minimum, these stakeholders should answer the following questions as soon as possible:

  • With mobile devices growing in number and variety, how can we achieve adequate protection at a granular level?
  • How do we enforce compliance for device users without disrupting their level of productivity and interoperability with internal and external stakeholders?
  • As employees demand anytime-anywhere accessibility from the devices of their choosing, how do we ensure that the right, authorized users are getting the exact access they are entitled to?

In crafting appropriate responses and action plans to address these questions, it’s abundantly clear that modern enterprise security challenges demand a deeper level of visibility, policy and protection. Fortunately, there are modernized approaches available to simplify and streamline this process.

Unify Your Approach to Endpoint Management

Unified endpoint management (UEM) is foundational to the success of modernized endpoint and mobile security. UEM allows organizations to take a consistent management approach to view, manage and protect any device — whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop — all from one place. Beyond devices, UEM gives IT teams an effective means to:

  • Manage user identity and access;
  • Deliver mission-critical applications;
  • Make crucial content accessible for collaboration; and
  • Grant secure access to enterprise resources and data.

An optimal unified endpoint management platform will be rich with artificial intelligence (AI) insights, actionable information and contextual analytics that allow administrators to discover risks and opportunities related to their environment — and offer appropriate guidance to prioritize and overcome challenges in as few steps as possible.

To maximize the security of your endpoint and mobile environment, your UEM solution should make it easy to configure and enforce policies at a granular level. Administrators should be able to detect when an unapproved application is installed on a device, when user behavior seems suspicious or when a risky URL is clicked. Furthermore, it should be simple to automate the type of response that occurs when that type of incident occurs.

Add Effective Threat and Data Management

Beyond assurance that your devices, users, applications, content and data are secure, organizations need to ensure that they can identify and respond to threats before they make an impact. Most of the phishing and malware attacks we read about in the news have already occurred. To reduce the number of these incidents, organizations need to be able to recognize and respond to threats in the moment. If you do not have an appropriate framework to determine which of your devices have malware on them — or whether there’s a cybercriminal targeting your critical assets — the time is now to get the appropriate strategy and tools in place.

Last, but no less important, is data. Data has proven to be a double-edged sword for IT and security teams: Its accessibility is essential for business productivity, yet if accessibility is too extensive, costs go up. If it’s underregulated, vulnerabilities increase. Thus, appropriate strategies and investments ensure that:

  • Data consumption is measured and controlled;
  • Conditional access to applications, content and resources is enforced; and
  • Browsing behavior is monitored and maintained.

A Partnership for Total Mobile Threat Prevention

To help organizations rise above these very real security challenges, Wandera and IBM MaaS360 with Watson joined forces to deliver enhanced visibility, policy and protection.

According to Roy Tuvey, co-founder and president of Wandera, this partnership “enables IT leaders to effectively understand and manage mobile risk. The joint solution delivers unprecedented visibility on the endpoint and in the mobile network, allowing for a deeper assessment of mobile threats and fine-tuned policy actions to defend against them. We are excited to be collaborating with IBM MaaS360 with Watson to eliminate mobile blind spots and equip customers with the tools they need to fully embrace mobility as a business enabler.”

Join experts from IBM and Wandera for an upcoming live webinar at 1 p.m. EST on Dec. 4 to learn more about this exciting collaboration and see a live demonstration of new platform integrations and capabilities.

Register for the Dec. 4 webinar from Wandera/IBM


The post As Mobile Security Challenges Mount, How Can CIOs and CISOs Eliminate Blind Spots? appeared first on Security Intelligence.

How to Stop Mobile Apps That Steal

Smartphones are motivating targets for cybercriminals. Mobile devices today hold personal and monetizable data such as login credentials, financial information and company secrets — not to mention spy-friendly sensors such as microphones, cameras and location electronics.

Unsavory actors gain access to phones through breaches, physical access to the device or, increasingly, by hiding code in mobile apps that “phones home” and sends target data back to the perpetrator. This method is especially attractive for criminals because users are in control of app installations and physically carry phones right inside company firewalls.

How to Recognize App Fraud

Malicious exfiltration often originates in fraudulent apps. The Slovakian cybersecurity company ESET recently discovered six fake banking apps on the Google Play store, according to Reuters. The developers spoofed banking apps from financial institutions across multiple countries and stole credit card details and login credentials.

Trustlook Labs also discovered an Android Trojan hidden inside an app called Cloud Module, which obfuscates its existence to evade detection. The app stealthily steals data from mobile messaging apps, including Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Viber and Skype.

Fraudulent apps are often found in legitimate app stores, but an entire fraudulent app store recently emerged, according to Talos Intelligence. Called Google Play Market, the app was designed to mimic the actual Google Play Store. It tries to trick users into asking permission to gain administrator privileges and access settings, passwords and contacts.

Second-Guess the Popular Mobile Apps

According to GuardianApp, researchers discovered a series of legitimate and even popular apps extracting data. The No. 1 mapping app for finding gas prices, which claims 70 million users, and the No. 2 weather app were among the apps that contained the exfiltration code.

At least two dozen of these iOS apps were sharing location data (GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth location) with companies that sell location information without the knowledge or permission of users. Some apps also shared other data, including browser histories, accelerometer data, cellular network name, GPS altitude and speed, and other data.

The firms selling the data are reportedly paying developers to install code that collects information, which they often say is used in an aggregated and anonymized form for market research services. To the app developers, it’s a way to monetize their apps. Many of these apps have even explicitly said location data will not be shared.

Understand the Threat

Far too often, these apps escape scrutiny because they sound so harmless, but it could be dangerous to underestimate their damage. Let’s say, for example, that an exfiltration app harvests only anonymized location data. What could be the harm in that?

A popular app could be used by dozens, hundreds or even thousands of users within one organization. By analyzing the location data, it would be easy to discover that some number of victims work at a specific company, because many of them spend their days in the company building.

All those users could fall victim to phishing attacks designed to target employees of that company. Further, those anonymous users at that company could be scrutinized based on where they live, which employees spend time together, what their hobbies are, whether they have children, where they shop and other data, based purely on where they go and when.

When personal information is used to construct victim profiles, phishing attacks can be far more effective. For example, let’s say 20 people at a company are found to be the parents of kids at a specific school. Scammers could blast the entire company email roster with an urgent message that sounds personalized because it specifically mentions both the company and the school, and maybe even the principle of the school. Although a generic phishing attack will likely have a relatively low success rate, a small number of those parents are sure to be duped, if only for a second. But that’s all it takes; once clicked, the payload is delivered and the damage begins.

Why You Should Invest in UEM and User Education

Although all of the malicious apps mentioned above have been removed from their app stores, as with most security threats, they were discovered only long after the damage was done. Two key actions are required to head off future risk from exfiltration apps.

First, adopt a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution that leverages artificial intelligence to spot anomalous and potentially malicious patterns. This should provide a safety net when human judgment fails.

Next, educate employees on how to spot apps that may contain exfiltration code to get ahead of human error. Data thieves are counting on user ignorance. In your training, be sure to include the following mobile security tips:

  • Discourage anyone in the organization from installing obscure apps, since they are more likely to escape app store scrutiny.
  • Avoid apps that are highly rated but have a small number of downloads, since fake accounts and bots can be used to inflate ratings.
  • Fake apps often have similar logos to the ones they’re imitating, but can contain typos in the descriptions and other telltale signs.
  • Always check the “Details” under app permissions before installation to see what permissions will be requested.
  • User agreements can sometimes reveal nefarious intent. If the end user license agreement (EULA) for a flashlight app asserts the right to use location and other irrelevant data, be suspicious.
  • Finally, do a search on the web for the name of the app to you intend download to see what other users and organizations are saying about it.

The arms race between threat actors and enterprise security professionals will continue, and it’s an uneven playing field. A malicious actor only needs to find one innovative way inside the organization. A security professional needs to guard against all possible attacks.

We can’t know exactly where the next attack will come from — but we do know that smartphone apps are among the best ways to smuggle payloads into an organization. As these threats proliferate, organizations will need to learn how to recognize app fraud on the fly and proactively defend against malicious applications to keep their data, employees and customers safe.

The post How to Stop Mobile Apps That Steal appeared first on Security Intelligence.

New Android API Lets Developers Push Updates Within their Apps

You might have read somewhere online today that Google is granting Android app developers powers to forcefully install app updates…but it is not true. Instead, the tech giant is providing a new feature that will help users to have up-to-date Android apps all the time and yes, it's optional. Along with the launch of a number of new tools and features at its Android Dev Summit 2018, Google has

IoT Lockdown: Ways to Secure Your Family’s Digital Home and Lifestyle

Internet Of ThingsIf you took an inventory of your digital possessions chances are, most of your life — everything from phones to toys, to wearables, to appliances — has wholly transitioned from analog to digital (rotary to wireless). What you may not realize is that with this dramatic transition, comes a fair amount of risk.

Privacy for Progress

With this massive tech migration, an invisible exchange has happened: Privacy for progress. Here we are intentionally and happily immersed in the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is defined as everyday objects with computing devices embedded in them that can send and receive data over the internet.

That’s right. Your favorite fitness tracking app may be collecting and giving away personal data. That smart toy, baby device, or video game may be monitoring your child’s behavior and gathering information to influence future purchases. And, that smart coffee maker may be transmitting more than just good morning vibes.

Gartner report estimated there were 8.4 billion connected “things” in 2017 and as many as 20 billion by 2020. The ability of some IoT devices is staggering and, frankly, a bit frightening. Data collection ability from smart devices and services on the market is far greater than most of us realize. Rooms, devices, and apps come equipped with sensors and controls that can gather and inform third parties about consumers.

Internet Of Things

Lockdown IoT devices:

  • Research product security. With so many cool products on the market, it’s easy to be impulsive and skip your research but don’t. Read reviews on a product’s security (or lack of). Going with a name brand that has a proven security track record and has worked out security gaps may be the better choice.
  • Create new passwords. Most every IoT device will come with a factory default password. Hackers know these passwords and will use them to break into your devices and gain access to your data. Take the time to go into the product settings (general and advanced) and create a unique, strong password.
  • Keep product software up-to-date. Manufacturers often release software updates to protect customers against vulnerabilities and new threats. Set your device to auto-update, if possible, so you always have the latest, safest upgrade.
  • Get an extra layer of security. Managing and protecting multiple devices in our already busy lives is not an easy task. To make sure you are protected consider investing in software that will give you antivirus, identity and privacy protection for your PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets—all in one subscription.
  • Stay informed. Think about it, crooks make it a point to stay current on IoT news, so shouldn’t we? Stay a step ahead by staying informed. Keep an eye out for any news that may affect your IoT security (or specific products) by setting up a Google alert.Internet Of Things

A connected life is a good life, no doubt. The only drawback is that criminals fully understand our growing dependence and affection for IoT devices and spend most of their time looking for vulnerabilities. Once they crack our network from one angle, they can and reach other data-rich devices and possibly access private and financial data.

As Yoda says, “with much power comes much responsibility.” Discuss with your family the risks that come with smart devices and how to work together to lock down your always-evolving, hyper-connected way of life.

Do you enjoy podcasts and wish you could find one that helps you keep up with digital trends and the latest gadgets? Then give McAfee’s podcast Hackable a try.

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

 

The post IoT Lockdown: Ways to Secure Your Family’s Digital Home and Lifestyle appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

How to Squash the Android/TimpDoor SMiShing Scam

As technology becomes more advanced, so do cybercriminals’ strategies for gaining access to our personal information. And while phishing scams have been around for over two decades, attackers have adapted their methods to “bait” victims through a variety of platforms. In fact, we’re seeing a rise in the popularity of phishing via SMS messages, or SMiShing. Just recently, the McAfee Mobile Research team discovered active SMiShing campaigns that are tricking users into downloading fake voice-messaging apps, called Android/TimpDoor.

So how does Android/TimpDoor infect a user’s device? When a victim receives the malicious text, the content will include a link. If they click on it, they’ll be directed to a fake web page. The website will then prompt the victim to download the app in order to listen to phony voice messages. Once the app has been downloaded, the malware collects the device information including device ID, brand, model, OS version, mobile carrier, connection type, and public/local IP address. TimpDoor allows cybercriminals to use the infected device as a digital intermediary without the user’s knowledge. Essentially, it creates a backdoor for hackers to access users’ home networks.

According to our team’s research, these fake apps have infected at least 5,000 devices in the U.S. since the end of March. So, the next question is what can users do to defend themselves from these attacks? Check out the following tips to stay alert and protect yourself from SMS phishing:

  • Do not install apps from unknown sources. If you receive a text asking you to download something onto your phone from a given link, make sure to do your homework. Research the app developer name, product title, download statistics, and app reviews. Be on the lookout for typos and grammatical errors in the description. This is usually a sign that the app is fake.
  • Be careful what you click on. Be sure to only click on links in text messages that are from a trusted source. If you don’t recognize the sender, or the SMS content doesn’t seem familiar, stay cautious and avoid interacting with the message.
  • Enable the feature on your mobile device that blocks texts from the Internet. Many spammers send texts from an Internet service in an attempt to hide their identities. Combat this by using this feature to block texts sent from the Internet.
  • Use a mobile security software. Make sure your mobile devices are prepared for TimpDoor or any other threat coming their way. To do just that, cover these devices with a mobile security solution, such as McAfee Mobile Security.

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

The post How to Squash the Android/TimpDoor SMiShing Scam appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Android/TimpDoor Turns Mobile Devices Into Hidden Proxies

The McAfee Mobile Research team recently found an active phishing campaign using text messages (SMS) that tricks users into downloading and installing a fake voice-message app which allows cybercriminals to use infected devices as network proxies without users’ knowledge. If the fake application is installed, a background service starts a Socks proxy that redirects all network traffic from a third-party server via an encrypted connection through a secure shell tunnel—allowing potential access to internal networks and bypassing network security mechanisms such as firewalls and network monitors. McAfee Mobile Security detects this malware as Android/TimpDoor.

Devices running TimpDoor could serve as mobile backdoors for stealthy access to corporate and home networks because the malicious traffic and payload are encrypted. Worse, a network of compromised devices could also be used for more profitable purposes such as sending spam and phishing emails, performing ad click fraud, or launching distributed denial-of-service attacks.

Based on our analysis of 26 malicious APK files found on the main distribution server, the earliest TimpDoor variant has been available since March, with the latest APK from the end of August. According to our telemetry data, these apps have infected at least 5,000 devices. The malicious apps have been distributed via an active phishing campaign via SMS in the United States since at least the end of March. McAfee notified the unwitting hosts of the phishing domains and the malware distribution server; at the time of writing this post we have confirmed that they are no longer active.

Campaign targets North America

Since at least the end of March users in the United States have reported suspicious text messages informing them that they have two voice messages to review and tricking them into clicking a URL to hear them:

Figure 1. User reporting a text that required downloading a fake voice app. Source 800notes.com.

Figure 2. An August 9 text. Source: findwhocallsyou.com.

Figure 3. An August 26 text. Source: 800notes.com.

If the user clicks on one of these links in a mobile device, the browser displays a fake web page that pretends to be from a popular classified advertisement website and asks the user to install an application to listen to the voice messages:

Figure 4. A fake website asking the user to download a voice app.

In addition to the link that provides the malicious APK, the fake site includes detailed instructions on how to disable “Unknown Sources” to install the app that was downloaded outside Google Play.

Fake voice app

When the user clicks on “Download Voice App,” the file VoiceApp.apk is downloaded from a remote server. If the victim follows the instructions, the following screens appear to make the app look legitimate:

Figure 5. Fake voice app initial screens.

The preceding screens are displayed only if the Android version of the infected device is 7.1 or later (API Level 25). If the Android version is earlier, the app skips the initial screens and displays the main fake interface to listen to the “messages”:

Figure 6. The main interface of the fake voice messages app.

Everything on the main screen is fake. The Recents, Saved, and Archive icons have no functionality. The only buttons that work play the fake audio files. The duration of the voice messages does not correspond with the length of the audio files and the phone numbers are fake, present in the resources of the app.

Once the user listens to the fake messages and closes the app, the icon is hidden from the home screen to make it difficult to remove. Meanwhile, it starts a service in the background without user’s knowledge:

Figure 7. Service running in the background.

Socks proxy over SSH

As soon as the service starts, the malware gathers device information: device ID, brand, model, OS version, mobile carrier, connection type, and public/local IP address. To gather the public IP address information, TimpDoor uses a free geolocation service to obtain the data (country, region, city, latitude, longitude, public IP address, and ISP) in JSON format. In case the HTTP request fails, the malware make an HTTP request to the webpage getIP.php of the main control server that provides the value “public_ip.”

Once the device information is collected, TimpDoor starts a secure shell (SSH) connection to the control server to get the assigned remote port by sending the device ID. This port will be later used for remote port forwarding with the compromised device acting as a local Socks proxy server. In addition to starting the proxy server through an SSH tunnel, TimpDoor establishes mechanisms to keep the SSH connection alive such as monitoring changes in the network connectivity and setting up an alarm to constantly check the established SSH tunnel:

Figure 8. An execution thread checking changes in connectivity and making sure the SSH tunnel is running.

To ensure the SSH tunnel is up, TimpDoor executes the method updateStatus, which sends the previously collected device information and local/public IP address data to the control server via SSH.

Mobile malware distribution server

By checking the IP address 199.192.19[.]18, which hosted VoiceApp.apk, we found more APK files in the directory US. This likely stands for United States, considering that the fake phone numbers in the voice app are in the country and the messages are sent from US phone numbers:

Figure 9. APK files in the “US” folder of the main malware distribution server.

According to the “Last modified” dates on the server, the oldest APK in the folder is chainmail.apk (March 12) while the newest is VoiceApp.apk (August 27) suggesting the campaign has run for at least five months and is likely still active.

We can divide the APK files into two groups by size (5.1MB and 3.1MB). The main difference between them is that the oldest use an HTTP proxy (LittleProxy) while the newest (July and August) use a Socks proxy (MicroSocks), which allows the routing of all traffic for any kind of network protocol (not only HTTP)TTp on any port. Other notable differences are the package name, control server URLs, and the value of appVersion in the updateStatus method—ranging from 1.1.0 to 1.4.0.

In addition to the US folder we also found a CA folder, which could stand for Canada.

Figure 10. The “CA” folder on the distribution server.

Checking the files in the CA folder we found that VoiceApp.apk and relevanbest.apk are the same file with appVersion 1.4.0 (Socks proxy server). Octarineiads.apk is version 1.1.0, with an HTTP proxy.

TimpDoor vs MilkyDoor

TimpDoor is not the first malware that turns Android devices into mobile proxies to forward network traffic from a control server using a Socks proxy though an SSH tunnel. In April 2017 researchers discovered MilkyDoor, an apparent successor of DressCode, which was found a year earlier. Both threats were distributed as Trojanized apps in Google Play. DressCode installs only a Socks proxy server on the infected device; MilkyDoor also protects that connection to bypass network security restrictions using remote port forwarding via SSH, just as TimpDoor does. However, there are some relevant differences between TimpDoor and MilkyDoor:

  • Distribution: Instead of being part of a Trojanized app in Google Play, TimpDoor uses a completely fake voice app distributed via text message
  • SSH connection: While MilkyDoor uploads the device and IP address information to a control server to receive the connection details, TimpDoor already has the information in its code. TimpDoor uses the information to get the remote port to perform dynamic port forwarding and to periodically send updated device data.
  • Pure proxy functionality: MilkyDoor was apparently an adware integrator in early versions of the SDK and later added backdoor functionality. TimpDoor’s sole purpose (at least in this campaign) is to keep the SSH tunnel open and the proxy server running in the background without the user’s consent.

MilkyDoor seems to be a more complete SDK, with adware and downloader functionality. TimpDoor has only basic proxy functionality, first using an HTTP proxy and later Socks.

Conclusion

TimpDoor is the latest example of Android malware that turns devices into mobile backdoors—potentially allowing cybercriminals encrypted access to internal networks, which represents a great risk to companies and their systems. The versions found on the distribution server and the simple proxy functionality implemented in them shows that this threat is probably still under development. We expect it will evolve into new variants.

Although this threat has not been seen on Google Play, this SMS phishing campaign distributing TimpDoor shows that cybercriminals are still using traditional phishing techniques to trick users into installing malicious applications.

McAfee Mobile Security detects this threat as Android/TimpDoor. To protect yourselves from this and similar threats, employ security software on your mobile devices and do not install apps from unknown sources.

The post Android/TimpDoor Turns Mobile Devices Into Hidden Proxies appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

The Importance of Security Awareness in Our Connected Lifestyle

Not very long ago, people could be seen walking around waving their mobile phones in the air, looking for a network connection. Today, we are talking 5G! Our kids just can’t imagine a world without gadgets and internet! Little kids as young as four can turn on and instruct Alexa, search for new games on smartphones and talk to digital devices.

Moving Toward an Increasingly Connected Lifestyle

Ours is a connected world and we are constantly connected to the internet- be it through our smartphones, digital assistants, gaming and reading devices, laptops, wearable devices, remote monitoring devices like CCTV and many more. While this leads to time saving, higher efficiency, and greater comfort, there are a few safety checks, which if ignored, may lead to data and ID thefts.

I was recently reading an article on the 5G revolution. South Korea, I believe, already enjoys phenomenal browsing and download speeds, and so will rest of the world very soon. It will also hopefully reduce lags and connectivity disruptions that we currently experience. More IoT (Internet of Things) devices will come into play and home Wi-Fi routers will have a larger count of devices connected to it. Needless to say, this calls for ensuring maximum security for the router as well as all our devices.

Moreover, we often use public Wi-Fi connections to browse; which expose us to possible cyber attacks. Often, something as innocuous as using external storage devices or delaying the installation of updates can lead to malware entering the device system. What happens if cyber attackers worm into our systems? They can spy on us, regulate our smart devices, and even listen in on our baby monitor, to name a few.

As many countries observe October as Cybersecurity Month, it is the right time to have a discussion on how we can keep our connected homes safe.

Let’s discuss some of the common causes that can lead to device hacking:

  • Software updating not done: Security companies and your OS vendors keep sending patches to give cover for latest viruses and thus enhance protection against cyberattacks. Delay in patch installation exposes our device to attacks. It is therefore advisable to set updates to automatic.
  • Increasing use of IoT devices: Our smartwatch or smartphone, digital assistants or digital toys are all connected to Wi-Fi. This offers cyber criminals a bigger hunting ground. They try to find and exploit vulnerabilities in these devices
  • Outdated security: Despite being aware of safety issues related to not securing devices with licensed comprehensive software, we often neglect this very important step. At best, we download and use free security tools which may not offer cover against more sophisticated attacks.
  • Carelessness of users: But the security chain also includes us, the users. We may click on malicious links or download infected files. We may also visit unsafe websites, making it easy for cyber criminals to target us

How to use smart devices safely:

  • Use unique, complex passphrases: Strong passphrases (not passwords you will notice) will go a long way in keeping hackers at bay. If the thought of remembering several passphrases daunts you, go for a password manager
  • Set up autolock: Set up autolock and PIN protect your devices. Modern devices offer biometric locks as well. Make use of them
  • Keep auto update turned on: This way your OS and security tool would always receive patches and updates on time and you will receive maximum protection
  • Check security settings before buying IoT devices: Before buying any connected toy or device, research the manufacturer to find out if they give security top priority. Check out the security they offer and change default passcodes. Also, do read the terms and conditions to know how the vendor plans to secure your data
  • Secure your home Wi-Fi router: As this will be the point for connecting with the net, this device needs to be secured with a strong passphrase. It’s a good idea to change the passphrase from time to time. Keep an eye on data consumption too
  • Install and run licensed comprehensive security software: Don’t go for free, your devices and your personal data are at stake here. Instead, use a comprehensive security solutionto protect your technology
  • Be aware: Awareness pays. If you know of the latest threats doing the round, you would take necessary precautions and share your knowledge with friends and family accordingly

We can do it, can’t we? A few simple measures help secure our digital lives and allow us to take full advantage of what tech has to offer. Let us be ready to welcome 5G in our lives.

Stay safe, stay secure!

 

The post The Importance of Security Awareness in Our Connected Lifestyle appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Working Together to Ensure Better Cybersecurity

For many, it’s hard to picture a work environment that doesn’t revolve around the use of technology. Digital, cloud-based services coupled with access through mobile and IoT devices have completely reshaped organizations by streamlining business processes and enabling people to work anywhere, anytime. Thanks to these advances, there have also been a variety of recent shifts in how employers and employees interact with each other, ranging from liberal remote work policies companies asking employees to bring their own devices to work.

Often these changes feel remarkable, efficient and convenient, as they make our work lives much more efficient – but these advancements also create concerns around cybersecurity. Many devices contain both personal and professional data , and when we take our work home or on the go with us, we’re not constantly protected by a company firewall, safe Wi-Fi, or other standard cybersecurity measures. Regardless of what industry you are in, online safety is no longer just IT’s problem. Cybersecurity is now a shared responsibility between an organization and its employees.

Naturally, these changes require education and communication around cybersecurity best practices in order to develop positive habits that will keep both employers and employees safe. Getting a habit to stick also requires an organization to develop culture of security in tandem, in which every individual and department is accountable for cybersecurity and bands together with the shared objective of staying secure.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is a great time to look at how everyone can be a part of the cybersecurity solution within their organization. If cybersecurity has not historically not been a priority within an organization, starting a conversation about it can be difficult, whether you’re an employee or an employer. Consider using these tips to start thinking about personal cybersecurity and how that translates into an overall cybersecurity plan within your organization.

Employers can take the following steps:

  • Identify which company assets are of greatest value, then ensure security measures are in place. Employee, customer, and payment data are all assets that cybercriminals could leverage via phishing, malware, password breaches, and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Begin to develop a formal cybersecurity plan based on your specific needs.
  • Set up an alert system. Put a system into place that will alert employees and your organization of an incident. This also includes an avenue for employees to report problems they might notice before they become widespread. The sooner people know about a vulnerability, the faster they can respond and take action.
  • Develop a response plan. Practice an incident response plan to contain an attack or breach. Keep in mind the goal of maintaining business operations in the short term while assessing the long-term effects of the cyber incident.

Employees can follow these guidelines:

  • Regularly update your device’s software. This is the easiest way to ensure your devices are equipped with vital patches that protect against flaws and bugs that cybercriminals can exploit.
  • Take security precautions, even if your company isn’t there yet. Professional and personal information is often intertwined on our devices – especially our mobile phones. Keep all your data secure with comprehensive mobile security, such as McAfee® Mobile Security. Then work within your organization to develop a cybersecurity plan that works for all.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security trends and information? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

The post Working Together to Ensure Better Cybersecurity appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

The Dangers of Linking Your Apple ID to Financial Accounts

The digital wallets of Chinese citizens are under attack thanks to a few bad apples. A recent string of cyberattacks in China utilized stolen Apple IDs to break into customers’ accounts and steal an undisclosed amount of money, according to a Bloomberg report. Almost immediately, Chinese e-transaction giants Tencent Holdings and Alipay warned their customers to monitor their accounts carefully, especially those who have linked their Apple IDs to Alipay accounts, WeChat Pay or their digital wallets and credit cards.

While Alipay works with Apple to figure out how this rare security breach happened and how hackers were able to hijack Apple IDs, they’re urging customers to lower their transaction limits to prevent any further losses while this investigation remains ongoing. Because Apple has yet to resolve this issue, any users who have linked their Apple IDs to payment methods including WeChat Pay — the popular digital wallet of WeChat which boasts over a billion users worldwide and can be used to pay for almost anything in China — remain vulnerable to theft. Apple also advises users to change their passwords immediately.

This security breach represents a large-scale example of a trend that continues to rise: the targeting of digital payment services by cybercriminals, who are capitalizing on the growing popularity of these services. Apple IDs represent an easy entry point of attack considering they connect Apple users to all the information, devices and products they care about. That interconnectivity of personal data is a veritable goldmine for cybercriminals if they get their hands on something like an Apple ID. With so much at stake for something as seemingly small as an Apple ID, it’s important for consumers to know how to safeguard their digital identifiers against potential financial theft. Here are some ways they can go about doing so:

  • Make a strong password. Your password is your first line of defense against attack, so you should make it as hard as possible for any potential cybercriminals to penetrate it. Including a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols will help you craft a stronger, more complex password that’s difficult for cybercriminals to crack. Avoid easy to guess passwords like “1234” or “password” at all costs.
  • Change login information for different accounts. An easy trap is using the same email and password across a wide variety of accounts, including Apple IDs. To better protect your Apple ID, especially if it’s linked to your financial accounts, it’s best to create a wholly original and complex password for it.
  • Enable two-factor authentication. While Apple works on identifying how these hackers hijacked Apple IDs, do yourself a favor and add an extra layer of security to your account by enabling two-factor authentication. By having to provide two or more pieces of information to verify your identity before you can log into your account, you place yourself in a better position to avoid attacks.
  • Monitor your financial accounts. When linking credentials like Apple IDs to your financial accounts, it’s important to regularly check your online bank statements and credit card accounts for any suspicious activity or transactions. Most banks and credit cards offer free credit monitoring as well. You could also invest in an identity protection service, which will reimburse you in the case of identity fraud or financial theft.

Stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listening to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Liking’ us on Facebook.

The post The Dangers of Linking Your Apple ID to Financial Accounts appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Digital Assistants, Cryptocurrency, Mobile Malware: Trends from ‘McAfee Labs Threats Report’

Every three months, our team crafts the McAfee Labs Threats Report. The quarterly report ranges in topic and severity but always touches on the most important and impactful threats afflicting consumers and companies alike. This year, the McAfee Labs team analyzed an average of 1,800,000 URLs, 800,000 files and 200,000 high-risk files to produce the McAfee Labs Threats Report: September 2018, which features digital assistants, cryptocurrencies, and cybercriminal gangs up to no good. Overall, it’s been an eventful quarter.

So, what are the key takeaways for you? Notably, our team has continued to track a downward trend in new malware attacks for the second successive quarter. Good news on the surface, but that trend may not be indicative of much; as we also saw a spike in new malware in Q4 2017. We’ll continue to watch this into next year. Significantly, we found that a good portion of net new malware is designed for mobile, which increased 27 percent over the previous quarter. In addition, here’s a look at the other trending stories we uncovered.

Digital Assistants

Digital assistants are advanced programs that we can converse with to research, act on our behalf and overall help make our digital lives more comfortable. Siri, Bixby and Google Assistant are few. But one digital assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, is a little too helpful. The good news, Microsoft quickly rolled out a fix for this vulnerability to protect your Windows 10 computer. Be sure your software is up to date.

Cryptocurrency

The second story involves cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are digital tokens generated by a computer after solving complex mathematical functions. These functions are used to verify the authenticity of a ledger, or blockchain. Blockchains, by their nature, are relatively secure. But an account that is connected to a blockchain — usually, in this case, associated with a cryptocurrency — is not. And that’s where cybercriminals are focusing their efforts, with coin miner malware up 86% in Q2 2018.

Our report found cybercriminals are chasing after access to cryptocurrencies and they’re doing so using familiar tactics. For example, phishing attacks — where cybercriminals pose as someone else online — are popular tools to take over a cryptocurrency-related account. Malicious programs are also deployed to collect passwords and other information related to an account before stealing virtual currency. You can read more about blockchain and cryptocurrency vulnerabilities here. 

Malicious Apps

Finally, the McAfee Mobile Research team found a collection of malicious applications facilitating a scam in the Google Play store. The apps in question siphon money from unwary users through billing-fraud. Billing-fraud collects money from victims for “using” a “premium” service, such as sending texts to a particular number.

In this case, the cybercriminal ring known as the AsiaHitGroup Gang attempted to charge at least 20,000 victims for downloading fake or copied versions of popular applications. To increase its potential, AsiaHitGroup Gang is using geolocation to target vulnerable populations.

So, what can you do to stay safe in the face of these threats? Here are three quick tips:

  • Limit device access. If you can, limit the ability and access a digital assistant has to your device. Often, you can adjust where and how an assistant is activated through your settings. Otherwise, update your software regularly, as many updates contain security fixes.
  • Create strong passwords. If you’re participating in the cryptocurrency market, then make sure you use strong, robust passwords to protect your accounts. This means using upper case, lower case, symbols and numbers for passwords that are 12 characters long. Afraid you might forget the key to your account? Consider using a password manager.
  • Be careful what you download. Always do some light research on the developer of a mobile application. If the information is hard to come across or absent, consider using an alternative program. Additionally, never download mobile applications from third-party app stores. Genuine stores, like Google Play and Apple’s App Store, should provide you with what you need.

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

The post Digital Assistants, Cryptocurrency, Mobile Malware: Trends from ‘McAfee Labs Threats Report’ appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

‘McAfee Labs Threats Report’ Highlights Cryptojacking, Blockchain, Mobile Security Issues

As we look over some of the key issues from the newly released McAfee Labs Threats Report, we read terms such as voice assistant, blockchain, billing fraud, and cryptojacking. Although voice assistants fall in a different category, the other three are closely linked and driven by the goal of fast, profitable attacks that result in a quick return on a cybercriminal’s investment.

One of the most significant shifts we see is that cryptojacking is still on the rise, while traditional ransomware attacks—aka “shoot and pray they pay”—are decreasing. Ransomware attacks are becoming more targeted as actors conduct their research to pick likely victims, breach their networks, and launch the malware followed by a high-pressure demand to pay the ransom. Although the total number of ransomware samples has fallen for two quarters, one family continues to spawn new variants. The Scarab ransomware family, which entered the threat landscape in June 2017, developed a dozen new variants in Q2. These variants combined make up more than 50% of the total number of Scarab samples to date.

What spiked the movement, starting in fall 2017, toward cryptojacking? The first reason is the value of cryptocurrency. If attacker can steal Bitcoins, for example, from a victim’s system, that’s enough. If direct theft is not possible, why not mine coins using a large number of hijacked systems. There’s no need to pay for hardware, electricity, or CPU cycles; it’s an easy way for criminals to earn money. We once thought that CPUs in routers and video-recording devices were useless for mining, but default or missing passwords wipe away this view. If an attacker can hijack enough systems, mining in high volume can be profitable. Not only individuals struggle with protecting against these attacks; companies suffer from them as well.

Securing cloud environments can be a challenge. Building applications in the cloud with container technology is effective and fast, but we also need to create the right amount of security controls. We have seen breaches in which bad actors uploaded their own containers and added them to a company’s cloud environment—which started to mine cryptocurrency.

New technologies and improvements to current ones are great, but we need to find the balance of securing them appropriately. Who would guess to use an embedded voice assistant to hack a computer? Who looks for potential attack vectors in new technologies and starts a dialog with the industry? One of those is the McAfee Advanced Threat Research team, which provides most of the analysis behind our threats reports. With a mix of the world’s best researchers in their key areas, they take on the challenge of making the (cyber) world safer. From testing vulnerabilities in new technologies to examining malware and the techniques of nation-state campaigns, we responsibly disclose our research to organizations and the industry. We take what we learn from analyzing attacks to evaluate, adapt, and innovate to improve our technology.

The post ‘McAfee Labs Threats Report’ Highlights Cryptojacking, Blockchain, Mobile Security Issues appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

5 Reasons Why Strong Digital Parenting Matters More than Ever

digital parentingAs a parent raising kids in a digital culture, it’s easy to feel at times as if you have a tiger by the tail and that technology is leading your family rather than the other way around.

But that familiar feeling — the feeling of being overwhelmed, outsmarted, and always a step or two behind the tech curve — is just a feeling, it’s not a fact.

Digital Parenting Matters

The fact is, you are the parent. That is a position of authority, honor, and privilege in your child’s life. No other person (device, app, or friend group) can take your place. No other voice is more influential or audible in your child’s mind and heart than yours.

It’s true that technology has added several critical skills to our parenting job description. It’s true that screens have become an integral part of daily life and that digital conversation can now shape our child’s self-image and perspective of his or her place in the world. All of this digital dominance has made issues such as mental health, anxiety, and cyberbullying significant concerns for parents.digital parenting

What’s also true is that we still have a lot of control over our kids’ screen time and the role technology plays in our families. Whether we choose to exercise that influence, is up to us but the choice remains ours.

Here are just a few reasons why strong digital parenting matters more than ever. And, some practical tools to help you take back any of the influence you feel you may have lost in your child’s life.

5 Digital Skills to Teach to Your Kids

Resilience

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience building is the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress. Resilience isn’t something you are born with. Kids become resilient over time and more so with an intentional parent. Being subject to the digital spotlight each day is a road no child should have to walk alone. September is National Suicide Prevention Month and an excellent opportunity to talk to your kids about resilience building. Digital Parenting Skills: Helping kids understand concepts like conflict-management, self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making, is one of the most critical areas of parenting today. Start the conversations, highlight examples of resilience in everyday life, model resilence, and keep this critical conversation going.

Empathy

digital parentingEmpathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Unfortunately, in the online space, empathy isn’t always abundant, so it’s up to parents to introduce, model, and teach this character trait. Digital Parenting Skills: According to Dr. Michele Borba, author of #UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, there are 9 empathy-building habits parents can nurture in their kids including Emotional Literacy, Moral Identity, Perspective Taking, Moral Imagination, Self Regulation, Practicing Kindness, Collaboration, Moral Courage, and Altruistic Leadership Abilities.

Life Balance

Screentime is on the rise, and there’s no indication that trend is going to change. If we want kids that know the value of building an emotionally and physically healthy life, then teaching (and modeling) balance is imperative today. Digital Parenting Skills: Model screentime balance in your life. Be proactive in planning device-free activities for the whole family, and use software that will help you establish time limits on all devices. You might be surprised how just a few small shifts in your family’s tech balance can influence the entire vibe of your home.

Reputation Management

digital parenting

Most kids work reasonably hard to curate and present a specific image on their social profiles to impress their peers. Few recognize that within just a few years, colleges and employers will also be paying attention to those profiles. One study shows that 70% of employers use search engines and social media to screen candidates. Your child’s digital footprint includes everything he or she says or does online. A digital footprint includes everything from posts to casual “likes,” silly photos, and comments. Digital Parenting Skills: Know where your kids go online. Monitor their online conversations (without commenting publically). Don’t apologize for demanding they take down inappropriate or insensitive photos, comments, or retweets. The most important part of monitoring is explaining why the post has to come down. Simply saying “because I said so,” or “that’s crude,” isn’t enough. Take the time to discuss the reasons behind the rules.

Security and Safetydigital parenting

It’s human nature: Most us aren’t proactive. We don’t get security systems for our homes or cars until a break-in occurs to us or a close friend. Often, we don’t act until it gets personal. The same is true for taking specific steps to guard our digital lives. Digital Parenting Skills: Talk to your kids about online risks including scams, viruses and malware, identity fraud, predators, and catfishing. Go one step further and teach them about specific tools that will help keep them safe online. The fundamentals of digital safety are similar to teaching kids habits such as locking the doors, wearing a seatbelt or avoiding dangerous neighborhoods.

Your kids may be getting older and may even shrug off your advice and guidance more than they used to but don’t be fooled, parents. Kids need aware, digitally savvy parents more than ever to navigate and stay safe — both emotionally and physically — in the online arena. Press into those hard conversations and be consistent in your digital parenting to protect the things that truly matter.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

The post 5 Reasons Why Strong Digital Parenting Matters More than Ever appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Announcing McAfee’s Evolved Consumer Product Portfolio

Every fall the leaves change colors, sweaters replace sundresses, and new changes are afoot. Especially for us at McAfee. In fact, we’re announcing quite a few changes to our consumer security portfolio this fall. Tailored to the increasingly connected world we live in, our evolved line of products focuses on better performance, better ransomware protection, and a holistic approach to securing every facet of a connected consumer’s life. Curious how exactly our lineup does that? Allow us to break it down.

First, there are a few key product updates. In exciting news, McAfee Identity Theft Protection and McAfee Safe Family are now both included in McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe. Additionally, McAfee Ransom Guard and PC Boost have been added to the entire product lineup, which includes McAfee AntiVirus, McAfee AntiVirus Plus, and McAfee Internet Security. Now, let’s get into a few specifics about product performance.

Improved Performance

McAfee’s core lineup of products now sends malware analysis to the McAfee Global Threat Intelligence (GTI) cloud, which means fewer system resources are required, and PCs can work at optimal speeds. Beyond that, we’ve also implemented a few key PC enhancements, including:

  • McAfee App Boost – Helps resource-hungry apps complete tasks more quickly by automatically allocating more resources to applications the customer is actively using.
  • McAfee Web Boost – Prevents unwanted or unrequested downloads and system activity caused by auto-play videos resulting in reduced bandwidth and resource consumption.

There are a few notable mobile enhancements as well, which include:

  • McAfee Mobile Security – Fully redesigned to deliver a more intuitive and engaging user experience.
  • McAfee Mobile Security for Android – Now includes machine learning capabilities within the mobile AV engine, which provides more efficient scanning and faster malware detection.
  • McAfee Mobile Security for iOS – New Wi-Fi Threat Scan shows the security status of the connected Wi-Fi network and alerts users if the Wi-Fi network they are connected to is at risk.

Increased Ransomware Protection

Ransomware attacks have shown no signs of slowing, which is why last year McAfee introduced a machine learning-based anti-virus engine with Real Protect to protect consumers from modern-day threats. And now we’ve updated our features to continue the fight against these advanced attacks. New features include:

  • McAfee Ransom Guard – Adds another layer of protection on the PC which monitors for suspicious file changes, warns the user when ransomware may be at work and suggests recommended actions for remediation. Additionally, this technology allows McAfee to detect many variants of zero-day ransomware.
  • Virus Protection Pledge – This year’s lineup extends the guarantee to six additional languages. If a customer enrolled in automatic renewal gets a virus with protection turned on, the customer support team will remove it, or the customer will receive a refund.

Protecting People’s Digital Lives

As people become more and more connected in the modern digital era, they’re in need of protection in every part of their online life. That’s why McAfee’s new lineup now includes features that make it easier than ever to protect what matters most. This includes:

  • McAfee Safe Family – Provides parents the visibility and controls needed to keep their children safer online when they use their PCs, smartphones, and tablets.
    • Key features and benefits include: Activity reports, app and web blocking capabilities, screen time controls, location tracking, 1-click digital time-outs and more. McAfee Safe Family Premium is included with subscriptions to McAfee Total Protection 10 and McAfee LiveSafe.
  • McAfee Identity Theft Protection – Allows users to take a proactive approach to protecting their identities.
    • Key features and benefits include: Cyber monitoring, Social security number trace, credit monitoring, 24/7 agency support, and ID recovery and stolen funds reimbursement. McAfee Identity Theft Protection Essentials is included with subscriptions to McAfee Total Protection 10 and McAfee LiveSafe.

So, whether you’re focused on fighting back against ransomware, or ensuring all your online interactions are protected from threats, our evolved portfolio of products is here to ensure you can live your connected life with confidence. Make sure you get proactive about your personal protection now.

To learn more about consumer security and our approach to it, be sure to follow us at @McAfee and @McAfee_Home.

The post Announcing McAfee’s Evolved Consumer Product Portfolio appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Mobile and Digital Payments: Worth the Risk?

Thanks in part to the convenience that our mobile devices provide for us, much of the world operates now on instant gratification. From accessing information on the web to doing work –and now sending and receiving digital payments– our devices and applications support us while we’re on the go. Whether we’re paying a friend for dinner, our roommate for rent, or otherwise, many of us use peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile and digital payment apps rather than cash to settle our bills.

P2P mobile and digital payment apps like Cash App, PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle have changed the way we transfer money; today it’s faster, simpler, and easier than ever. In fact, they’re so popular that it’s estimated that in 2018, $700 billion will be transferred in this manner. With so much money being sent and received in this way, the ease of transfer begs the question, how secure are these apps?

While some have turned to using cryptocurrency and blockchain to curtail the known dangers of traditional mobile payment apps, recent cryptojacking incidents have proven that even this new technology is not foolproof when it comes to cybersecurity and the determination of cybercriminals. And while the convenience of digital payments can’t be denied, we seem to be prioritizing ease of use over security. Let’s take a look at how digital payments work, as well as their security implications.

How Digital Payments Work

P2P apps like Venmo, Cash App, and others essentially all work in the same way.  Functioning as a digital wallet, users link the app to their bank accounts or credit and debit cards. Then the app adds or subtracts money based on when users receive or send a payment. From there, users can “cash out” their balance to their preferred digital property, such as the account attached to a card or bank account.

P2P Money Transfer Apps and Cybersecurity Concerns

On the surface, digital money transfers may seem harmless, when in fact, they could lead to a headache of unforeseen cybersecurity concerns. The good news is that most money transfer apps will reimburse you for fraudulent charges. However, if someone has physical access to your phone and you don’t keep it locked, they can send money to themselves or others and you won’t get that money back.

Aside from the obvious concern of losing your phone, if you use an unsecured network to transfer money, it’s easier for someone to launch a phishing attack to gain access to your data. That’s because some payment apps will send request links from other users to download the app on their device. These links can be manipulated by cybercriminals and often contain just a letter or number off so that these changes go unnoticed by day-to-day users. When clicked on, a user can be redirected to a web page and presented with malware or a virus and might be prompted to download it– giving an unfriendly host access to your financial information. Thankfully, leveraging your data plan or a VPN rather than an unsecured or pubic Wi-Fi network can help create an extra layer of protection, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to access your sensitive data.

Lastly, there are often unforeseen holes in software that provide backdoor access to your financial information. Meticulously updating the software on your mobile device can help patch up known security issues, also making it easier to protect your data.

Tips to Stay Safe While Using Peer-to-Peer Money Transfer Apps

If you already use a peer-to-peer money transfer app or are on the fence about downloading one, here are some tips to take into account. By practicing multiple security habits simultaneously, your financial information is much more likely to remain safe on your devices and apps:

  • Set up additional security measures. P2P payment platforms require access to sensitive financial information. Check your account settings to see if you can enable multi-factor authentication, PIN/Password requirement, or use fingerprint recognition.
  • Check your preferred app’s permission or settings. Some might share information about your transactions on social media or on the platform itself, like Venmo. Make adjustments to these settings if and when you see fit.
  • Update your software and apps. It’s a best practice to update software and apps when prompted to help seal vulnerabilities when they’re found.
  • Be aware of where you are conducting your money transfers. Opt to use your data plan or a secure, private Wi-Fi network when using a P2P payment app. If you connected to public Wi-Fi, cybercriminals could use the holes in these networks to access your personal banking information and possibly access your P2P app account. If you must use public Wi-Fi, then it’s a good idea to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • Confirm the deposit went through. When you receive a payment, that money is added to your in-system balance. This is where it will remain until you initiate the transfer to your bank account or use it for another transaction within the app. If you transfer the balance to your bank, confirm it went through. This could take anywhere from a few days to a week. If it takes longer, it’s worth investigating to stop suspicious behavior in its tracks.
  • Be wary of scammers and cybercriminals. If you don’t know the person to which you are sending a digital transfer (say to purchase tickets to an event), look for poor spelling or grammar from them and read links carefully. If something doesn’t look right, that’s often a tell-tale sign that you’re being led astray. Try to find an alternative way to pay, or better yet – find someone who is more trustworthy.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online, and follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

The post Mobile and Digital Payments: Worth the Risk? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Could the Photos You’re Sharing Online Be Putting Your Child at Risk?

sharing photos risksConfession time. I’m a mom that is part of the problem. The problem of posting photos of my kids online without asking for their permission and knowing deep down that I’m so excited about sharing, I’m not paying much attention at all to the risks.

Why do I do it? Because I’m madly in love with my two wee ones (who aren’t so wee anymore). Because I’m a proud parent who wants to celebrate their milestones in a way that feels meaningful in our digital world. And, if I’m honest, I think posting pictures of my kids publically helps fill up their love tank and remind them they are cherished and that they matter. . . even if the way I’m communicating happens to be very public.

Am I that different than most parents? According to a recent McAfee survey, I’m in the majority.

Theoretically, I represent one of the 1,000 interviewed for McAfee’s recent Age of Consent survey* that rendered some interesting results.

Can you relate?

  • 30% of parents post a photo of their child to social media daily.
  • 58% of parents do not ask for permission from their children before posting images of them on social media.
  • 22% think that their child is too young to provide permission; 19% claim that it’s their own choice, not their child’s choice.

The surprising part:

  • 71% of parents who share images of their kids online agree that the images could end up in the wrong hands.
  • Parents’ biggest concerns with sharing photos online include pedophilia (49%), stalking (48%), and kidnapping (45%).
  • Other risks of sharing photos online may also be other children seeing the image and engaging in cyberbullying (31%), their child feeling embarrassed (30%), and their child feeling worried or anxious (23%).

If this mere sampling of 1,000 parents (myself included) represents the sharing attitudes of even a fraction of the people who use Facebook (estimated to be one billion globally), then rethinking the way in which we share photos isn’t a bad idea.

We know that asking parents, grandparents, friends, and kids themselves to stop uploading photos altogether would be about as practical as asking the entire state of Texas to line up and do the hokey pokey. It’s not going to happen, nor does it have to.

But we can dilute the risks of photo sharing. Together, we can agree to post smarter, to pause a little longer. We can look out for one another’s privacy, and share in ways that keep us all safe.

Ways to help minimize photo sharing risks:

  • Pause before uploading. That photo of your child is awesome but have you stopped to analyze it? Ask yourself: Is there anything in this photo that could be used as an identifier? Have I inadvertently given away personal information such as a birthdate, a visible home addresses, a school uniform, financial details, or potential passwords? Is the photo I’m about to upload something I’d be okay with a stranger seeing? sharing photos risks
  • Review your privacy settings. It’s easy to forget that when we upload a photo, we lose complete control over who will see, modify, and share that photo again (anywhere they choose and in any way they choose). You can minimize the scope of your audience to only trusted friends and family by customizing your privacy settings within each social network.  Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have privacy settings that allow you to share posts (and account access) with select people. Use the controls available to boost your family privacy.
  • Voice your sharing preferences with others. While it may be awkward, it’s okay (even admirable) to request friends and family to reign in or refrain from posting photos of your children online. This rule also applies to other people’s public comments about your vacation plans, new house, children’s names or birthdates, or any other content that gives away too much data. Don’t hesitate to promptly delete those comments by others and explain yourself in a private message if necessary.
  • Turn off geotagging on photos. Did you know that the photo you upload has metadata assigned to it that can tell others your exact location? That’s right. Many social networks will tag a user’s location when that user uploads a photo. To make sure this doesn’t happen, simply turn off geotagging abilities on your phone. This precaution is particularly important when posting photos away from home.
  • Be mindful of identity theft. Identity theft is no joke. Photos can reveal a lot about your lifestyle, your habits, and they can unintentionally give away your data. Consider using an identity theft protection solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection that can help protect your identity and safeguard your personal information.

* McAfee commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey of 1,000 parents of children ages one month to 16 years old in the U.S.

The post Could the Photos You’re Sharing Online Be Putting Your Child at Risk? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Trending: IoT Malware Attacks of 2018

Since January 1st of 2018, a barrage of cyberattacks and data breaches have hit almost every industry, targeting businesses large and small, many of which are now from IoT devices. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be approximately 75 billion connected devices around the world. With more IoT devices ­–from wearables and pacemakers to thermometers and smart plugs–on the market and in the home, cybercriminals are keen to leverage them in attacks. This heightened interest is due to the vulnerabilities in many IoT devices, not to mention their ability to connect to each other, which can form an IoT botnet.

In a botnet scenario, a network of internet-connected devices is infected with malware and controlled without the users’ knowledge, in order to launch ransomware and DDoS attacks (distributed denial-of-service). Once unleashed, the consequences of botnet attacks can be devastating. This possible reality sounds like the plot of a science fiction movie, one which we hypothesized in our 2018 Threats Prediction Report. As we head into this year’s final months, we take a look at how this year’s threats compared to our predictions for you, the consumer.

At the end of 2017, we predicted that the convenience and ease of a connected home could lead to a decrease in privacy. Our devices already transmit significant data, with or without the knowledge of the consumer, back to the corporations the devices are made. This unprecedented access to consumer data is what is driving cybercriminals to become more familiar with IoT botnet attacks. Just in 2018 alone, we’ve seen smart TVs, virtual assistants, and even smart plugs display detrimental security flaws that could be exploited by bad actors. Some IoT devices were used to facilitate botnet attacks, like an IoT thermometer and home Wi-Fi routers. In 2017, these security concerns were simply predictions- but now they are very much a reality. And while the window to get ahead of these attacks is closing, consumers need to be prepared in case your IoT devices go haywire.

Be the difference in your home when it comes to security and IoT devices. Protect both you and your family from these threats with these tips:

  • When buying an IoT device, make security a priority. Before your next IoT purchase, do your research. Prioritize purchasing devices that have been on the market for a while, have a name brand, or have a lot of online reviews. If you follow this protocol, the chances are that the device’s security standards will be higher, due to being vetted by the masses.
  • Change default device passwords. As soon as you bring a new device into your home, change the password to something difficult to guess. Cybercriminals often know the default settings and can use them to access your devices. If the device has advanced security options, use them.
  • Keep your software up-to-date. To protect against potential vulnerabilities, manufacturers often release software updates. Set your device to auto-update, if possible, so you always have the latest software.
  • Use a comprehensive security program. It’s important to think about security holistically. Not all IoT devices are restricted to the home; many are mobile (such as smart watches). If you’re out and about, you may need to connect to an unsecured network – say an airport with public Wi-Fi. Your kids may have devices. The scenarios may be different, but the risk is the same. Protect your network of connected devices no matter where you are and consider a suite of security products to protect what matters.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online, and follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

The post Trending: IoT Malware Attacks of 2018 appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Back to School: 5 Cybersecurity Habits to Teach Your Kids

With back-to-school time already here, cybersecurity should be at the forefront of every parent’s mind. Kids are exposed to more devices – both in the classroom and at home. While their school may already be taking precautions to protect their data while they’re in the classroom, and many of their personal phones have parental controls on them, there’s still more to teach them. This is especially the case with the rise of IoT devices and wearables aimed at kids – such as low-cost smart watches – which often skimp on a basic layer of security to make them affordable. So while the cost is low, the risk of them being vulnerable to attacks is high.

Kids, in particular, are easy targets for cybercriminals because they lack awareness of tell-tale warning signs that something is off when browsing the web. Cybercriminals can also hone in on where kids are the most vulnerable and unassuming online -think chat rooms, online video games, and social media.

To get ahead of this, it’s worth being proactive about teaching your kids online safety habits so that when they do encounter a new device, network, or challenge, they have a set of safety habits in place to make smart digital decisions.

Here are some 5 cybersecurity habits to teach your kids about cyberthreats and sharing online to start practicing:

  1. Know where your devices are at all times. Kids are notorious for leaving or forgetting their belongings. It’s vital to teach your kids to be extra careful about not leaving their devices unattended. Bad actors are always on the lookout to steal devices because when they get one, they have unlimited access to personal information.  Teach your kids the importance of keeping their mobile device in a secure place.
  2. Beware of what you’re clicking on. Teach your kids what “phishing” means and help them understand what “phishy” links or messages might look like across email or social media. One accident could lead to a case of stolen identity.
  3. Keep your social media in check. Social media can be fun, but it’s also a source of concern. Teach your kids not to accept friend requests or followers if they don’t personally know them.  Also, keep a close eye on all your child’s accounts and set their privacy settings to the highest level possible to avoid compromising data. Turn off location services on all their devices so people can’t track them. Similarly, teach them not to give out their location when they are posting so people can’t follow them to a real-world location.
  4. When it comes to passwords, sharing isn’t caring. Kids love to chat. Teach your kids that passwords are private and should be kept to themselves unless there is family involved. It is also important to teach them to set up a unique, unbreakable password (i.e. not using their name and changing the factory settings on new purchases). Lastly, start imprinting the habit of changing passwords every so often so it’ll stick with them their entire lives.
  5. Stay on a secure network. If your child can connect to Wi-Fi, teach them the importance of finding a secure network to avoid unnecessary vulnerabilities.

By starting these conversations early and teaching your kids or teens these basic tips, they’ll be set up for success and over time, can learn to turn these regular safety habits.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online, and follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

The post Back to School: 5 Cybersecurity Habits to Teach Your Kids appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

College Bound? 7 Important Technology Habits for Students

You’ve loved, shaped, and equipped your child to succeed in college and move in day is finally here.  But there’s still one variable that can turn your child’s freshman year upside down, and that’s technology.

That’s right, that essential laptop and indispensable smartphone your child owns could also prove to be his or her biggest headache if not secured and used responsibly. College students can be targets of identity theft, malware, online scams, credit card fraud, property theft, and internet addiction.

The other part of this new equation? You, parent, are no longer in the picture. Your child is now 100% on his or her own. Equipping time is over. Weekly tech monitoring and family chats are in the rearview mirror. Will they succeed? Of course, they will. But one last parenting chat on safety sure can’t hurt. Here are a couple of reminders to share with your college-bound kids.

7  Technology Habits for Students

1. Minimize use of public computers. Campuses rely on shared computers. Because campus networks aren’t always secure, this can open you up to identity theft. If you have to log on to a public computer be it a cafe, library, or lab, be sure to change any passwords each time you return. If you are working with a study group, don’t share passwords. Public devices can be prone to hackers seeking to steal login credentials and credit card numbers. If you do use public devices, get in the habit of browsing in the privacy mode. Clear browser history, cookies, and quit all applications before logging off.

2. Beware when shopping online. Online shopping is often the easiest way for students to purchase essentials. Be sure to use a secure internet connection when hitting that “purchase” button. Reputable sites encrypt data during transactions by using SSL technologies. Look for the tiny padlock icon in the address bar or a URL that begins with “https” (the “s” stands for secure) instead of “http.” Examine the site and look for misspellings, inconsistencies. Go with your instincts if you think a website is bogus, don’t risk the purchase. Online credit card fraud is on the rise, so beware.

3. Guard your privacy. College is a tough place to learn that not all people are trustworthy — even those who appear to be friends. Sadly, many kids learn about online theft the hard way. Never share passwords, credit card numbers, or student ID numbers. Be aware of shoulder surfing which is when someone peers over your shoulder to see what’s on your computer screen. Avoid leaving computer screens open in dorm rooms or libraries where anyone can check your browsing history, use an open screen, or access financial information. Also, never lend your laptop or tablet to someone else since it houses personal information and make sure that all of your screens are password protected.

4.  Beware of campus crooks. Thieves troll college campuses looking for opportunities to steal smartphones, laptops, wearables, and tablets for personal use or resale. Don’t carry your tech around uncased or leave it unguarded. Conceal it in a backpack. Even if you feel comfortable in your new community, don’t leave your phone even for a few seconds to pick up your food or coffee at a nearby counter. If you are in the library or study lab and need a bathroom break, take your laptop with you. Thieves are swift, and you don’t want to lose a semester’s worth of work in a matter of seconds.

5. Use public Wi-Fi with caution. Everyone loves to meet at the coffee shop for study sessions — and that includes hackers. Yes, it’s convenient, but use public Wi-Fi with care. Consider using VPN software, which creates a secure private network and blocks people from accessing your laptop or activity. To protect yourself, be sure to change your passwords often. This is easy if you use a free password manager like True Key.

6. Social media = productivity killer. Be aware of your online time. Mindless surfing, internet games, and excessive video gaming with roommates can have an adverse effect on your grades as well as your mental health.  Use online website blockers to help protect your study time.

7. Social media = career killer. We can all agree: College is a blast. However, keep the party photos and inappropriate captions offline. Your career will thank you. Remember: Most everything you do today is being captured or recorded – even if you’re not the one with the camera. The internet is forever, and a long-forgotten photo can make it’s way back around when you least expect it.

8. Don’t get too comfortable too fast. Until you understand who you can trust in your new community, consider locking your social media accounts. Disable GPS on mobile apps for security, don’t share home and dorm addresses, email, or phone numbers. While it may be the farthest thing from your mind right now — campus stalking case are real.

toni page birdsong

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

The post College Bound? 7 Important Technology Habits for Students appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Back to School: Cybersecurity in the Classroom

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end and that back-to-school time is around the corner. For some kids, that means cyberbullies are traded in for school bullies and social engagement will turn into in-person interactions. But for others — dubbed Extreme Internet Users — the screen stays. When it comes time to go back to the classroom, the six hours or more a day these kids spent online during summer may be curtailed in favor of educational screen time instead.

Every year around this time, I reflect on how much has changed for children, especially when it comes to mobile devices in the classroom. This trend has become increasingly popular and, on the rise, as technology has improved, education adapts to rapid changes, and our world becomes more interconnected. Either these devices are given to kids or their classrooms by their school, or parents are encouraged to purchase one for their child to help support internet research and to digitize note-taking and homework.

Regardless of whether you’re a technophile or technophobe when it comes to leveraging screens in education, one thing is for sure – their presence in learning environments is here to stay. And with this shift, security is of the utmost importance.

Since January 2016, there have been 353 cybersecurity incidents in the United States related to K-12 public schools and districts. These attacks range include phishing, ransomware, DoS attacks and breaches that have exposed personal data. However, the question – what motivates cybercriminals to target schools? – still persists. The answer is complex, because what cybercriminals could exploit depends on what they want to accomplish.  Extorting school faculty, hacking private student data, disrupting school operations, or disabling, compromising, or re-directing school technology assets are all regular tools of the trade when it comes to hacking schools.

You may not be able to control how your child’s school thinks about cybersecurity, but you can take matters into your own hands. There are steps you can take to make sure your child is ready to face the school year head-on, including protecting their devices and their data.

  • Start a cybersecurity conversation. Talk with school faculty about what is being done in terms of a comprehensive cybersecurity plan for your child’s school. It’s worth starting the conversation to understand where the gaps are and what is being done to patch them.
  • Install security software on all devices. Don’t stop at the laptop, all devices need to be protected with comprehensive security software, including mobile devices and tablets.
  • Make sure all device software is up-to-date. This is one of the easiest and best ways to secure your devices against threats.
  • Teach your child how to connect securely on public Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi networks are notoriously used as backdoors by hackers trying to gain access to personal information. If Wi-Fi is absolutely necessary, ensure the network is password protected. However, if you want a secure encrypted connection, consider using a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Designate a specific date and time for regular data back-ups. If ransomware hits, you won’t have to pay to get your child’s information back. You can back up that personal data to a physical external hard drive or use an online backup service, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. That way you can access your files even if your device gets compromised.
  • Understand your child’s school bring your own device (BYOD) policy. Each school is different when it comes to BYOD and understanding your child’s school policy will save you a headache down the road. Some schools buy devices for students to rent, with parents having to pay for any incidentals, and some ask parents to buy the devices outright. Take the time to understand your child’s school policy before accidents happen.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online, and follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

The post Back to School: Cybersecurity in the Classroom appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Too Much Tech: 4 Steps to Get Your Child to Chill on Excessive Snapchatting

We were in the midst of what I believed to be an important conversation.

“Just a sec mom,” she said promptly after a Snapchat notification popped up on her iPhone.

She stopped me mid-sentence, puckered her lips, rolled her eyes, typed a few lines of copy, and within three seconds, my teenage daughter Snapchatted a few dozen friends.

“Sorry, mom, what were you saying?” she turned back toward me her face void of any trace of remorse.

It was clear: Snapchat had far more influence than I, the parent, and it was time to make some serious changes.

Imbalance of Power

It’s obvious the power apps hold over our lives. In fact, in an attempt to encourage responsible app use, Facebook and Instagram recently announced it would implement tools allowing users to track how much time they spend on the apps. This mom is hoping Snapchat will follow suit.

Since its inception in 2011, Snapchat has become one of the most popular apps with an estimated 187 daily active users. A 2017 study released by Science Daily found that 75% of teens use Snapchat. But it’s not the only app winning our kids affections:

  • 76 percent of American teens age 13-17 use Instagram.
  • 75 percent of teens use Snapchat.
  • 66 percent of teens use Facebook.
  • 47 percent of teens use Twitter.
  • Fewer than 30 percent of American teens use Tumblr, Twitch, or LinkedIn.

If you have a teen, you understand the dilemma. We know that social ties are essential to a teen’s psychological well-being. We also know that excessive time online can erode self-esteem and cause depression. We can’t just yank our child’s favorite app, but we also can’t let it run in the background of our lives 24/7, right?

What we can do is take some intentional steps to help kids understand their responsibility to use apps in healthy, resilient ways. In our house, taking that step meant addressing — and taming — the elephant in the room: Snapchat. Here are a few things that worked for us you may find helpful.

4 Steps to Help Curb Excessive Snapchatting

  1. Strive for quality relationships. With so much more information available on the downside of excessive social media use, it’s time to be candid with our kids. Excessive “liking,” carefully-curated photos, and disingenuous interactions online are not meaningful interactions. Stress to kids that nothing compares to genuine, face-to-face relationships with others.
  2. Zero phone zones. This is a rule we established after one too many snaps hijacked our family time. We agreed that when in the company of others — be it at home, in the car, in a restaurant, at church, at a relative’s house — all digital devices get turned facedown or put in a pocket. By doing this, we immediately increased opportunities for personal connection and decreased opportunities for distraction. This simple but proven strategy has cut my daughter’s Snapchat time considerably.
  3. Establish a Snapchat curfew. Given the opportunity, teens will Snapchat until the sun comes up. Don’t believe me? Ask them. If not for the body’s physical need for sleep, they’d happily Snapchat through the night. Consider a curfew for devices. This rule will immediately begin to wean your child’s need to Snapchat around the clock.
  4. Track Snapchat time. Investing in software such as McAfee® Safe Family is an option when trying to strike a healthy tech balance. The software will help with time limits, website filtering, and app blocking. There is also helpful time tracking apps. For the iPhone, there’s Moment, and for Android, there’s Breakfree. Both apps will track how much time you spend on your phone. Seeing this number — in hours — can be a real eye-opener for both adults and kids.

    toni page birdsongToni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

The post Too Much Tech: 4 Steps to Get Your Child to Chill on Excessive Snapchatting appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Family Matters: How to Help Kids Avoid Cyberbullies this Summer

The summer months can be tough on kids. There’s more time during the day and much of that extra time gets spent online scrolling, surfing, liking, and snap chatting with peers. Unfortunately, with more time, comes more opportunity for interactions between peers to become strained even to the point of bullying.

Can parents stop their kids from being cyberbullying completely? Not likely. However, if our sensors are up, we may be able to help our kids minimize both conflicts online and instances of cyberbullying should they arise.

Be Aware

Summer can be a time when a child’s more prone to feelings of exclusion and depression relative to the amount of time he or she spends online. Watching friends take trips together, go to parties, hang out at the pool, can be a lot on a child’s emotions. As much as you can, try to stay aware of your child’s demeanor and attitude over the summer months. If you need help balancing their online time, you’ve come to the right place.

Steer Clear of Summer Cyberbullies 

  1. Avoid risky apps. Apps like ask.fm that allow outsiders to ask a user any question anonymously should be off limits to kids. Kik Messenger and Yik Yak are also risky apps. Users have a degree of anonymity with these kinds of apps because they have usernames instead of real names and they can easily connect with profiles that could be (and often are) fake. Officials have linked all of these apps to multiple cyberbullying and even suicide cases.
  2. Monitor gaming communities. Gaming time can skyrocket during the summer and in a competitive environment, so can cyberbullying. Listen in on the tone of the conversations, the language, and keep tabs on your child’s demeanor. For your child’s physical and emotional health, make every effort to help him or her balance summer gaming time.
  3. Make profiles and photos private. By refusing to use privacy settings (and some kids do resist), a child’s profile is open to anyone and everyone, which increases the chances of being bullied or personal photos being downloaded and manipulated. Require kids under 18 to make all social profiles private. By doing this, you limit online circles to known friends and reduces the possibility of cyberbullying.
  4. Don’t ask peers for a “rank” or a “like.” The online culture for teens is very different than that of adults. Kids will be straightforward in asking people to “like” or “rank” a photo of them and attach the hashtag #TBH (to be honest) in hopes of affirmation. Talk to your kids about the risk in doing this and the negative comments that may follow. Remind them often of how much they mean to you and the people who truly know them and love them.
  5. Balance = health. Summer means getting intentional about balance with devices. Stepping away from devices for a set time can help that goal. Establish ground rules for the summer months, which might include additional monitoring and a device curfew.

Know the signs of cyberbullying. And, if your child is being bullied, remember these things:

1) Never tell a child to ignore the bullying. 2) Never blame a child for being bullied. Even if he or she made poor decisions or aggravated the bullying, no one ever deserves to be bullied. 3) As angry as you may be that someone is bullying your child, do not encourage your child to physically fight back. 4) If you can identify the bully, consider talking with the child’s parents.

Technology has catapulted parents into arenas — like cyberbullying — few of us could have anticipated. So, the challenge remains: Stay informed and keep talking to your kids, parents, because they need you more than ever as their digital landscape evolves.

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post Family Matters: How to Help Kids Avoid Cyberbullies this Summer appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

JS-Binding-Over-HTTP Vulnerability and JavaScript Sidedoor: Security Risks Affecting Billions of Android App Downloads

Third-party libraries, especially ad libraries, are widely used in Android apps. Unfortunately, many of them have security and privacy issues. In this blog, we summarize our findings related to the insecure usage of JavaScript binding in ad libraries.

First, we describe a widespread security issue with using JavaScript binding (addJavascriptInterface) and loading WebView content over HTTP, which allows a network attacker to take control of the application by hijacking the HTTP traffic. We call this the JavaScript-Binding-Over-HTTP (JS-Binding-Over-HTTP) vulnerability. Our analysis shows that, currently, at least 47 percent of the top 40 ad libraries have this vulnerability in at least one of their versions that are in active use by popular apps on Google Play.

Second, we describe a new security issue with the JavaScript binding annotation, which we call JavaScript Sidedoor. Starting with Android 4.2, Google introduced the @JavascriptInterface annotation to explicitly designate and limit which public methods in Java objects are accessible from JavaScript. If an ad library uses @JavascriptInterface annotation to expose security-sensitive interfaces, and uses HTTP to load content in the WebView, then an attacker over the network could inject malicious content into the WebView to misuse the exposed interfaces through the JS binding annotation. We call these exposed JS binding annotation interfaces JS sidedoors.

Our analysis shows that these security issues are widespread, have affected popular apps on Google Play accounting for literally billions of app downloads. The parties we notified about these issues have been actively addressing them.

Security Issues with JavaScript Binding over HTTP

Android uses the JavaScript binding method addJavascriptInterface to enable JavaScript code running inside a WebView to access the app’s Java methods. However, it is widely known that this feature, if not used carefully, presents a potential security risk when running on Android 4.1 or below. As noted by Google: “Use of this method in a WebView containing untrusted content could allow an attacker to manipulate the host application in unintended ways, executing Java code with the permissions of the host application.” [1]

In particular, if an app running on Android 4.1 or below uses the JavaScript binding method addJavascriptInterface and loads the content in the WebView over HTTP, then an attacker over the network could hijack the HTTP traffic, e.g., through WiFi or DNS hijacking, to inject malicious content into the WebView – and thus take control over the host application. We call this the JavaScript-Binding-Over-HTTP (JS-Binding-Over-HTTP) vulnerability. If an app containing such vulnerability has sensitive Android permissions such as access to the camera, then a remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to perform sensitive tasks such as taking photos or record video in this case, over the Internet, without a user’s consent.

We have analyzed the top 40 third-party ad libraries (not including Google Ads) used by Android apps. Among the apps with over 100,000 downloads each on Google Play, over 42 percent of the free apps currently contain at least one of these top ad libraries. The total download count of such apps now exceeds 12.4 billion. From our analysis, at least 47 percent of these top 40 ad libraries have at least one version of their code in active use by popular apps on Google Play, and contain the JS-Binding-Over-HTTP vulnerability. As an example, InMobi versions 2.5.0 and above use the JavaScript binding method addJavascriptInterface and load content in the WebView using HTTP.

Security Issues with JavaScript Binding Annotation

Starting with Android 4.2, Google introduced the @JavascriptInterface annotation to explicitly designate and limit which public Java methods in the app are accessible from JavaScript running inside a WebView. However, note that the @JavascriptInterface annotation does not provide any protection for devices using Android 4.1 or below, which is still running on more than 80 percent of Android devices worldwide.

We discovered a new class of security issues, which we call JavaScript Sidedoor (JS sidedoor), in ad libraries. If an ad library uses the @JavascriptInterface annotation to expose security-sensitive interfaces, and uses HTTP to load content in the WebView, then it is vulnerable to attacks where an attacker over the network (e.g., via WIFI or DNS hijacking) could inject malicious content into the WebView to misuse the interfaces exposed through the JS binding annotation. We call these exposed JS binding annotation interfaces JS sidedoors.

For example, starting with version 3.6.2, InMobi added the @JavascriptInterface JS binding annotation. The list of exposed methods through the JS binding annotation in InMobi includes:

  • createCalendarEvent (version 3.7.0 and above)
  • makeCall (version 3.6.2 and above)
  • postToSocial (version 3.7.0 and above)
  • sendMail (version 3.6.2 and above)
  • sendSMS (version 3.6.2 and above)
  • takeCameraPicture (version 3.7.0 and above)
  • getGalleryImage (version 3.7.0 and above)
  • registerMicListener (version 3.7.0 and above)

InMobi also provides JavaScript wrappers to these methods in the JavaScript code served from their ad servers, as shown in Appendix A.

InMobi also loads content in the WebView using HTTP. If an app has the Android permission CALL_PHONE, and is using InMobi versions 3.6.2 to 4.0.2, an attacker over the network (for example, using Wi-Fi or DNS hijacking) could abuse the makeCall annotation in the app to make phone calls on the device without a user’s consent – including to premium numbers.

In addition, without requiring special Android permissions in the host app, attackers over the network, via HTTP or DNS hijacking, could also misuse the aforementioned exposed methods to misguide the user to post to the user’s social network from the device (postToSocial in version 3.7.0 and above), send email to any designated recipient with a pre-crafted title and email body (sendMail in version 3.6.2 and above), send SMS to premium numbers (sendSMS in version 3.6.2 and above), create calendar events on the device (createCalendarEvent in version 3.7.0 and above), and to take pictures and access the photo gallery on the device (takeCameraPicture and getGalleryImage in version 3.7.0 and above). To complete these actions, the user would need to click on certain consent buttons. However, as generally known, users are quite vulnerable to social engineering attacks through which attackers could trick users to give consent.

We have identified more than 3,000 apps on Google Play that contain versions 2.5.0 to 4.0.2 of InMobi – and which have over 100,000 downloads each as of December, 2013. Currently, the total download count for these affected apps is greater than 3.7 billion.

We have informed both Google and InMobi of our findings, and they have been actively working to address them.

New InMobi Update after FireEye Notification

After we notified the InMobi vendor about these security issues, they promptly released new SDK versions 4.0.3 and 4.0.4. The 4.0.3 SDK, marked as “Internal release”, was superseded by 4.0.4 after one day. The 4.0.4 SDK made the following changes:

  1. Changed its method exposed through annotation for making phone calls (makeCall) to require user’s consent.
  2. Added a new storePicture interface to download and save specified files from the Internet to the user’s Downloads folder. Despite the name, it can be used for any file, not just images.
  3. Compared with InMobi’s earlier versions, we consider change No. 1 as an improvement that addresses the aforementioned issue of an attacker making phone calls without a user’s consent. We are glad to see that InMobi made this change after our notification.

    InMobi recently released a new SDK version 4.1.0. Compared with SDK version 4.0.4, we haven't seen any changes to JS Binding usage from a security perspective in this new SDK version 4.1.0.

    Moving Forward: Improving Security for JS Binding in Third-party Libraries

    In summary, the insecure usage of JS Binding and JS Binding annotations in third-party libraries exposes many apps that contain these libraries to security risks.

    App developers and third-party library vendors often focus on new features and rich functionalities. However, this needs to be balanced with a consideration for security and privacy risks. We propose the following to the mobile application development and library vendor community:

    1. Third-party library vendors need to explicitly disclose security-sensitive features in their privacy policies and/or their app developer SDK guides.
    2. Third-party library vendors need to educate the app developers with information, knowledge, and best practices regarding security and privacy when leveraging their SDK.
    3. App developers need to use caution when leveraging third-party libraries, apply best practices on security and privacy, and in particular, avoid misusing vulnerable APIs or packages.
    4. When third-party libraries use JS Binding, we recommend using HTTPS for loading content.
    5. Since customers may have different requirements regarding security and privacy, apps with JS-Binding-Over-HTTP vulnerabilities and JS sidedoors can introduce risks to security-sensitive environments such as enterprise networks. FireEye Mobile Threat Prevention provides protection to our customers from these kinds of security threats.

      Acknowledgement

      We thank our team members Adrian Mettler and Zheng Bu for their help in writing this blog.

      Appendix A: JavaScript Code Snippets Served from InMobi Ad Servers

      a.takeCameraPicture = function () {

      utilityController.takeCameraPicture()

      };

      a.getGalleryImage = function () {

      utilityController.getGalleryImage()

      };

      a.makeCall = function (f) {

      try {

      utilityController.makeCall(f)

      } catch (d) {

      a.showAlert("makeCall: " + d)

      }

      };

      a.sendMail = function (f, d, b) {

      try {

      utilityController.sendMail(f, d, b)

      } catch (c) {

      a.showAlert("sendMail: " + c)

      }

      };

      a.sendSMS = function (f, d) {

      try {

      utilityController.sendSMS(f, d)

      } catch (b) {

      a.showAlert("sendSMS: " + b)

      }

      };

      a.postToSocial = function (a, c, b, e) {

      a = parseInt(a);

      isNaN(a) && window.mraid.broadcastEvent("error", "socialType must be an integer", "postToSocial");

      "string" != typeof c && (c = "");

      "string" != typeof b && (b = "");

      "string" != typeof e && (e = "");

      utilityController.postToSocial(a, c, b, e)

      };

      a.createCalendarEvent = function (a) {

      "object" != typeof a && window.mraid.broadcastEvent("error",

      "createCalendarEvent method expects parameter", "createCalendarEvent");

      "string" != typeof a.start || "string" != typeof a.end ?

      window.mraid.broadcastEvent("error",

      "createCalendarEvent method expects string parameters for start and end dates",

      "createCalendarEvent") :

      ("string" != typeof a.location && (a.location = ""),

      "string" != typeof a.description && (a.description = ""),

      utilityController.createCalendarEvent(a.start, a.end, a.location, a.description))

      };

      a.registerMicListener=function() {

      utilityController.registerMicListener()

      };

      Monitoring Vulnaggressive Apps on Google Play

      Vulnaggressive Characteristics in Mobile Apps and Libraries

      FireEye mobile security researchers have discovered a rapidly-growing class of mobile threats represented by popular ad libraries affecting apps with billions of downloads. These ad libraries are aggressive at collecting sensitive data and able to perform dangerous operations such as downloading and running new code on demand. They are also plagued with various classes of vulnerabilities that enable attackers to turn their aggressive behaviors against users. We coined the term “vulnaggressive” to describe this class of vulnerable and aggressive characteristics. We have published some of our findings in our two recent blogs about these threats: “Ad Vulna: A Vulnaggressive (Vulnerable & Aggressive) Adware Threatening Millions” and “Update: Ad Vulna Continues”.

      As we reported in our earlier blog “Update: Ad Vulna Continues”, we have observed that some vulnaggressive apps have been removed from Google Play, and some app developers have upgraded their apps to a more secure version either by removing the vulnaggressive libraries entirely or by upgrading the relevant libraries to a more secure version which address the security issues. However, many app developers are still not aware of these security issues and have not taken such needed steps. We need to make a community effort to help app developers and library vendors to be more aware of these security issues and address them in a timely fashion.

      To aid this community effort, we present the data to illustrate the changes over time as vulnaggressive apps are upgraded to a more secure version or removed from Google Play after our notification. We summarize our observations below, although we do not have specific information about the reasons that caused these changes we are reporting.

      We currently only show the chart for one such vulnaggressive library, AppLovin (previously referred to by us as Ad Vulna for anonymity). We will add the charts for other vulnaggressive libraries as we complete our notification/disclosure process and the corresponding libraries make available new versions that fix the issues.

      The Chart of Apps Affected by AppLovin

      AppLovin (Vulna)’s vulnerable versions include 3.x, 4.x and 5.0.x. AppLovin 5.1 fixed most of the reported security issues. We urge app developers to upgrade AppLovin to the latest version and ask their users to update their apps as soon as the newer versions are available.

      The figure below illustrates the change over time of the status of vulnerable apps affected by AppLovin on Google Play. In particular, we collect and depict the statistics of apps that we have observed on Google Play with at least 100k downloads and with at least one version containing the vulnerable versions of AppLovin starting September 20. Over time, a vulnerable app may be removed by Google Play (which we call “removed apps”, represented in gray), have a new version available on Google Play that addresses the security issues either by removing AppLovin entirely or by upgrading the embedded AppLovin to 5.1 or above (which we call “upgradable apps”, represented in green), or remain vulnerable (which we call “vulnerable apps”, represented in red), as shown in the legend in the chart.

      Please note that we started collecting the data of app removal from Google Play on October 20, 2013. Thus, any relevant app removal between September 20 and October 20 will be counted and shown on October 20. Also, for each app included in the chart, Google Play shows a range of its number of downloads, e.g., between 1M and 5M. We use the lower end of the range in our download count so the statistics we show are conservative estimates.

      applovin1117

      We are glad to see that over time, many vulnerable apps have been either removed from Google Play or have more secure versions available on Google Play. However, apps with hundreds of millions of downloads in total still remain vulnerable. In addition, note that while removing vulnaggressive apps from Google Play prevents more people from being affected, the millions of devices that already downloaded them remain vulnerable since they are not automatically removed from the devices. Furthermore, because many users do not update their downloaded apps often and older versions of Android do not auto-update apps, even after the new, more secure version of a vulnerable app is available on Google Play, millions of users of these apps will remain vulnerable until they update to the new versions of these apps on their devices. FireEye recently announced FireEye Mobile Threat Prevention. It is uniquely capable of protecting its customers from such threats.