Tag Archives: botnets

Web Security Snapshot Has Some Surprises

Symantec, a major Net security company, has published a report on Internet security threats of 2011. It’s an interesting snapshot of trends and statistics that makes sobering reading, along with a few eyebrow-raising surprises. Here are some of its highlights: A dangerous new trend among criminals is using shortened URLs to distribute and disguise spam and phishing attacks. These links are conveniently provided by numerous websites to handily replace lengthy strings in addresses, but where they actually point to may be hard to guess. Users are advised to use preview tools to check them out before clicking. Social media sites, especially Facebook, have been cleverly used to spread links to infected sites by crooks taking advantage of people’s expectations and profiles. People using social networking sites are cautioned to be careful about what personal information they post, and when clicking on URLs in email or posted on social media sites even when they come from friends or trusted sources. Macs are not immune: the first Mac-based botnet occurred in 2009. New threats emerged in 2011, including Mac Defender, a fake antivirus program that installs itself without permission. Symantec claims to have identified 4,989 new computer vulnerabilities in just 2011. However, the number of new problems with popular browsers has decreased slightly, Google Chrome having the most dramatic reduction. The amount of spam is actually decreasing, from over 88% of all email in 2010 down to 68% by the end of … Continue reading

Posted in Security, Warnings | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Flashback Trojan is a Warning to Mac Owners

It finally happened: for the first time, Macintosh computers have been attacked by a trojan virus in a big way. Few viruses have ever targeted them before, and for decades Apple owners were told simply not to worry, that viruses were a Microsoft problem. Now the owners of over a half-million Mac OS X computers share the pain – and some of the vulnerability – that Windows users have long been familiar with. The malware is called Flashback, and was discovered not long ago by Kaspersky Labs, a leading Moscow-based software security firm. Flashback can hijack a Mac without even an administrative password, due to its exploit of a flaw in Java. Though discovered last September, Oracle, the company that makes Java, patched the hole back in February, but that didn’t solve the problem. It turns out Apple ships its own version of Java, and their patches weren’t issued until early April. (Obviously, the company has a learning curve about prompt and effective security responses in front of them.) By now there are a lot of infected Macintoshes – not really all that many by Windows standards, but it can still spoil your day if you have one. The virus masquerades as an installer for Adobe’s Flash, and it can install itself. All you have to do is visit an infected website with an unprotected computer. As of the latest reports, the trojan has created a botnet – a network … Continue reading

Posted in News, Security, Warnings | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Zombie Alert!

With Halloween coming up, the fear and fascination with the walking dead is everywhere. In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control have used zombie alerts to warn of the flu. Highway departments have also zombie mania to get people to try to slow down, though that has drawn a lot of criticism. But they’re all latecomers. Back in 2007, the FBI issued a warning about zombie attacks. Nothing tongue in cheek about this one, either; it was very serious indeed. These weren’t the kind of modern zombie that wants to eat your brains; these zombies were more traditional in that they have become unwitting, helpless slaves of an evil master. Yet these zombies are not undead flesh and blood; they lust after your PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to turn them into zombie machines just like the rest to attack other devices. The threat is still quite real, and an infestation can not only quickly destroy your files and render your computer useless to you, but makes it a danger to the entire Internet. Hordes of zombies Zombie programs, also called “bots”, hijack computers through trickery. Infection often occurs when the user is tricked into opening an email attachment with a virus or visits a booby-trapped webpage, though they can also appear in downloaded files. Free screensavers are also a common means of infection, because a screensaver is an executable program. The virus quickly commandeers the computer, to steal … Continue reading

Posted in Security | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off