Tag Archives: malware

Beware Pop-up Survey Scams

Pop-up ads are generally merely annoying, but some can actually pose a threat. Of course, it’s the worst that try the hardest to make themselves look legitimate and helpful. You might find yourself faced with one that purports to be a survey of Internet services. And it looks quite official, even down to the legalese text on the bottom, and offers valuable gifts for a few minutes of your time. And above all, it looks totally innocuous, with easy, objective, multiple-choice questions. What could be the harm in that? Plenty, though you might not realize it for awhile. Filling in the form can leave your computer infected, maybe just with more annoying adware, or something more serious. But any adware is a breach in your privacy defenses, and other nasties you may run into while browsing can make the gap worse. Now, this “survey” may be for a site you visit, or even your ISP,  which is why we’re issuing this warning. We’re seeing more reports of our members being asked to rate Southwest Cyberport. Some customers, wishing to give SWCP a good word or help us improve, have gone ahead and filled out the form, to their regret. The only party that got a favor from it were the scammers. The best response is the same for all pop-ups: ignore it, close the window without clicking anything. If you think you might have been infected see here for steps … Continue reading

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Superfish Troubles Continue

The March 2015 Portal just came out. It’s all about Superfish, adware preinstalled on certain Lenovo laptops, supposedly to enhance user choices and options while shopping. But the software breaks the basic protections embedded in TLS and the digital certificate system that are vital to online commerce. Superfish, to paraphrase our Vice President Jamii Corley, is like a salesman so pushy that he breaks all the locks on your house in his eagerness to enter and leaves them broken so that anybody else, salesman or impersonator, can get in. Another way of looking at it is that Superfish forged the seals on the documents that make sure the party you’re talking to is the one intended, rendering the whole system worthless. Either way, it smells. It’s such a dangerous threat that the Department of Homeland Security has recommended it be removed ASAP. However, it turns out it’s not that easy. Lenovo claims to have stopped installing it on their computers, but some are still being shipped. And while Lenovo has published removal instructions, it turns out that their method leaves the application and libraries intact. Fortunately, there are other options.  First of all, there’s a simple online test to see if your brand-new laptop is affected. And here’s Lenovo’s list of models that “may be” infected. It may prove safer, if more complicated, to remove it by hand. Some commercial software antivirus programs offer removal tools available for those less technically oriented. … Continue reading

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US Leads the World in Spam

One interesting fact that didn’t make it into this month’s newsletter article on “The Secret Life of Spam” is that the United States leads the world in the overall volume of spam produced. And by a huge margin, too: according to security site Sophos, 24% of all spam generated this spring. That’s nearly a quarter! France and China, the runners-up, come in at less than 7% each. The full results can be accessed here. The results may be surprising because we tend to think of spam originating in Russia or Nigeria, or the actual place where the criminals who generate it live. But spam is a world-wide problem, and one would think the bad guys generally know enough to not spoil their own nests. Instead, the countries which actually generate the most spam are those where the most computers are infected with malware. The US merits the top billing for volume not so much due to poor security practices, but to our large and highly-connected population. When the overall amount is divided by population, the US doesn’t do so badly. In a per-person comparison, we come up merely twelfth, near the bottom with Bulgaria and Belarus being tops at 2.7 and 1.9 times the American rate. However, the US is still spewing a lot of crap messages, and if you’re infected, you’re part of the problem. Once your machine becomes part of a botnet, it’s essentially a zombie out of … Continue reading

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