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Category: Security

‘WannaCry’ Wakeup Call For Online Security

 

Ransomware - paying for access to files

A massive cyber attack struck the globe last Friday, affecting 150 countries and over 250,000 computers including those of major government organizations and corporate operations. This ransomware dubbed ‘WannaCry’ is fearsome because once it is activated on a device, it encrypts all the files so that they are inaccessible. At that point, it instructs the computer owner to pay a ransom in Bitcoin in exchange for unlocking their files. 

So what can you do to make sure you’re protected against this vicious ransomware?

  • Be a conscious clicker: an email or some other form of message can contain infectious attachments and links that can spread malware onto your device.You can simply hover your cursor over email links to reveal the URL’s destination. If you are not sure, do a search on the sender to find out more and stay on alert.
  • Don’t be forgetful about updates: immediately install updates to your operating system and to all your software as they become available. Such updates for your device’s system are designed to fix vulnerabilities which ransomware can target. 
  • Backing up your files is key: ransomware works with a hacker first encrypting your hard drive, which makes your computer still operable, but the catch is that you can’t access any of your files. If you already have your important files backed up on an external drive, you would not have to pay a hacker to decrypt them if you get attacked.
  • Remain aware on social media: social media is all about connecting and sharing with others. Therefore, it is essential to remain in a security headspace to avoid clicking on infectious downloads when on Facebook, Instagram, or even Snapchat.
  • Always stay official: remember to only download apps from official application stores. This will reduce the probability of downloading a pirated versions of apps that contain infectious malware.

All in all, staying vigilant on the web is the most crucial wisdom. Hackers around the globe are always looking for new ways to make trouble in return for their almighty dollar, so don’t make their lives easy.  Always think twice before clicking and make sure you are using updated versions on your system. If your device becomes affected, get in touch with Europol for assistance in your native language.

Sources

Fortune, http://fortune.com/2017/05/14/ransomware-wannacry-faq/

Owl Detect, https://www.owldetect.com/uk/stay-safe-online/archive/nhs-cyber-attack-what-steps-have-you-taken/

ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/US/simple-things-protect-ransomware-attacks/story?id=47410339

5 Frequent Types of Malware: Explained

Types of malware hackers use

You may have heard malware thrown around, but do you know what it means? Learn more about the largest types of malware we come across on the web.

What is malware?

Malware is short for malicious software, meaning software that can be used to compromise computer functions, steal data, bypass access controls, or otherwise, cause harm to the host computer. Here are explanations on the five most observed types of malicious programs to watch out for:

1. Adware 

Adware is a form of financially-supported malware that usually presents itself in the form of unwanted advertisements displayed to a user. The Internet is filled with these types of programs that can hijack your PC for profit. Most of them are hidden inside so-called “free” downloads and pop-up ads that forcibly install software on systems with active vulnerabilities.

2. Spyware

This type of malware covertly collects information and transmits it to interested parties. Information gathered includes web sites visited, browser and system information and IP address. Spyware does not have any infection mechanisms and is usually dropped by a Trojan. A hacker uses spyware to track your internet activities and steal your information without you being aware of it. Credit card numbers and passwords are the two most common targets.

3. Trojan Horses 

Just like the trojan horse from ancient greek mythology, this type of malware is disguised as a safe program designed to trick users, so that they unwittingly install it on their own system, and later are sabotaged by it. Normally, the hacker uses a trojan to steal both financial and personal information. It can do this by creating a “backdoor” to your computer that allows the hacker to remotely control it.

4. Viruses

Like a virus that can infect a person, a computer virus is a contagious piece of code that infects software and then spreads from file to file on a system. When infected software or files are shared between computers, the virus then spreads to the new host.

5. Worms

Similarly, worms also replicate themselves and spread when they infect a computer. The difference, however, between a worm and a virus is that a worm doesn’t necessitate the help of a human or host program to spread. Instead, they self-replicate and spread across networks without the guidance of a hacker or a file/program to latch onto. 

 

Surf safe with UR: all downloads are automatically scanned for viruses and if you arrive on a suspicious website, you will immediately be alerted.

Top 5 Malware Threats To Watch in 2017

Cisco recently published their Annual Cybersecurity Report and presented the most common malware threats.

Top 5 Most Commonly Observed Malware: 

1. Reconnaissance: attackers look for vulnerable spots in internet infrastructure or network weaknesses that will allow them to gain access to users’ computers and, ultimately, to infiltrate organizations.

2. Suspicious Windows binaries and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs): suspicious Windows binaries deliver threats such as spyware and adware. Malicious browser extensions are an example of PUAs.

3. Facebook scams: include fake offers and media content, along with survey scams. With nearly 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is the perfect territory for cyber criminals.

4. Trojan Downloader: opening links in spam emails or downloading an image in emails, which can attach to the victim’s computer.

5. Browser redirection malware: these infections can expose users to malicious advertising (malvertising), which attackers use to set up ransomware and other malware campaigns.

Read the entire Cisco report here (email required)

So, how to prevent malware?

Install a reputable antivirus software

It goes without saying that you should invest in a good antivirus software. Read reviews and decide on one that matches your needs and price range. It will be money well spent—believe us, getting rid of viruses can be more costly in the end!

Stay on top of those updates
Regularly check for updates not only for your computer, but also for your antivirus software. Updates are often security patches to keep you safe in between large updates. It is important to have these so your computer is protected from potential threats.

Secure your network
You’ve heard it before—strong passwords are really important! You should never have an unprotected wifi network at home. Opt instead for a WPA or WPA2-encrypted password. For optimal security, use a VPN when you visit websites to create an encrypted “tunnel” between your browser and websites.

Think before you click
Avoid websites that provide illegal and pirated material. If you receive email attachments from an unknown sender, do not open them. Bright “Download” buttons should be avoided, as they often lead to malicious software. One last trick: hover over a link and look in the bottom left corner of your browser to see where it’s really leading you.

Backup your files in multiple places
No one wants to think about it, but you should prepare for losing your data, even if you are safe online. Keep your files in multiple places—on a external hard drive, in a secure backup cloud, or even at a friend’s house.

If you’re concerned about your online privacy, you’re not alone. UR is a web browser created specifically to keep your online data private and safe. Learn more here.

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