You’d be right in thinking it’s hard to program a computer virus that can spread across the world in a flash – we’re talking days of constant desk-jockey nerd-work. So why do they bother? Well, it generally comes down to 3 reasons: Money, showing off their skill, or to simply being a jerk. While showing off or being a jerk is pretty self-explanatory, the money side is fascinating.
Here’s how people are making money with computer viruses:
Bank account theft: Virus creators are more than happy to help themselves to your bank details, sneaking in to grab your login details or credit card info. They can either transfer your funds away or use your credit card details to go on a shopping spree. Sometimes they’ll leave the fun to another person though, and simply sell your details to the highest bidder.
Ransomware: Rather than a financial snatch and grab, sometimes a virus will encrypt your files and demand money for the unlock code. Without a true backup plan in place beforehand, you’re at their mercy. You’ll be given very helpful information on how to pay, plus a firm deadline before your files are destroyed permanently.
Ad swappers: A cheeky technique, this is when they create a virus that either puts annoying ads on websites you visit, or places affiliate codes on pages so that when you buy something legitimately – eg, from Amazon – they get a percentage as a ‘referral fee’. Their kickback doesn’t make your purchase cost more and you may not even know you’re supporting their activities.
Bitcoin mining: You might have heard of digital currencies being used for payment, but did you know you can also earn them with your computer processing power? Unfortunately, ‘renting’ out your computer’s processing power means paying more in running costs than you’d make – unless you were very clever and sneaky, and used a virus to rent out other people’s computers.
Botnets: Certain infected computers can be remotely controlled to do whatever the virus creator wants. In this case, they’ll usually set the infected bot computers to overwhelm a target web server, like an e-commerce store. Sometimes it’s done as revenge, but more often it’s blackmail. The ‘Botmaster’ says “pay me thousands of dollars or I’ll crash your site during the biggest shopping day of the year.”
Account stealing: Subscription accounts like Netflix and Hulu are often hijacked, leaving you to pay the bill for someone else’s entertainment. But sometimes, virus creators go one step further with online gaming accounts. All those digital items that you fought so hard for (special clothing, weapons etc.) can carry real world value and be stolen from your account and sold on a black market. Yes, that’s cheating!
Give us a call at 604-885-2410 to make sure your computer is secure and protected.
Today, IT security firm ESET® released a useful free tool to help combat the recent ransomware, WannaCry.
ESET’s EternalBlue Vulnerability Checker can be used to determine whether your Windows machine is patched against EternalBlue. This is the exploit behind the WannaCry ransomware epidemic that is still being used to spread cryptocurrency mining software and other malware.
Protecting from EternalBlue is critical. The danger is not in the WannaCry ransomware itself, but in the EternalBlue exploit. This has been using the vulnerability in unpatched Microsoft systems to spread the infection to other unpatched computers. (ESET’s network detection of the EternalBlue exploit, CVE-2017-0144, was added on April 25, prior to the outbreak of the WannaCry threat. To learn more about how ESET solutions proactively protect against WannaCry and EternalBlue, click here.)
While the WannaCry ransomware remains the most visible, the exploit can still be used in the wild by any other malware – not only ransomware.
Read the full article here!
Why You Should Backup Your Files
In today’s fast-paced world, backing up your files is of the utmost importance. Typically music, movies, films, data files, projects, and photos are all stored in one place – your computer. Laptops and desktops have decreased in cost, and the amount of storage inside them has increased greatly over the last few years. Unfortunately having all of your data in only one place is dangerous.
Computer loss, theft, natural disaster, and accidental deletion, are just some of the ways that you can lose the data you’ve spent so long creating and accumulating. The only way to prepare for the unexpected is to have a good backup strategy in place. There are many different ways to backup your computers, and using multiple forms of backup will minimize the risk of ever losing your valuable files.
Can I Use Thumb Drives for Backup?
Technically, yes. In most cases, a simple thumb drive (or flash drive) is the first way most people save their data. Thumb drives are easy to transport, work with most computers, and are relatively small. That makes them a great way to save small amounts of data like presentations or working documents. It’s also easy to give them to others, making them great for collaborative projects.
The downside to thumb drives is that they are usually very small and often are not very dense (meaning, they cannot store a lot of data). This makes them problematic for a few reasons. If your thumb drive is small it’s easy to lose. If you lose your thumb drive then you’re no longer backed up! Not having a lot of storage density is also problematic, as typically a thumb drive will not be able to hold all of the data that is on your computer. For all of those reasons thumb drives are not an ideal solution for backing up your computer.
Read the full article here!
I receive spam in my personal email almost daily. Usually I just ignore it and delete right away. However, I’ve gotten a bit more curious since I’ve become more immersed in security. What would happen if I actually clicked?
Social Engineering: to click or not to click
With one or two wrong clicks, your computer can become infected with a virus or Trojan. You may not even notice, and someone may have complete control of your computer – watching you through your webcam, browsing your files, stealing your passwords and recording all of your keystrokes.
It is far too easy for cyber criminals to lure you into clicking. They will try every social engineering trick in the book. These tricks include email subject lines like “Notice to appear in court” or “Unpaid Invoice” or “Order Form” and the list goes on.
I too even sometimes pause and have to think twice before clicking. And I’m a security expert. What about regular computer users who don’t have the same experience and level of education that I have? So I decided to click, with the goal of showing you what actually happens when you fall prey to ransomware.
Read the full article here!