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A Cybersecurity Horror Story: October’s Creepiest Threats and How to Stay Secure

A Cybersecurity Horror Story: October’s Creepiest Threats and How to Stay Secure

Halloween time is among us and ghosts and goblins aren’t the only things lurking in the shadows. This past month has brought a variety of spooky cyberthreats that haunt our networks and devices. From malicious malware to restricting ransomware, October has had its fair share of cyber-scares. Let’s take a look at what ghoulish threats have been leading to some tricks (and no treats) around the cybersphere this month.

Ghostcat Malware

One ghost that recently caused some hocus pocus across the Web is Ghostcat-3PC. According to SC Magazine, the malware’s goal is to hijack users’ mobile browsing sessions.

The infection begins when a user visits a particular website and is served a malicious advertisement. Ghostcat fingerprints the browser to collect device information and determines if the ad is running on a genuine webpage. Ghostcat also checks if the ad is running on an online publishers’ page that has been specifically targeted by this campaign. If these conditions are met, then the malware serves a malicious URL linked to the ad.

From there, this URL delivers obfuscated JavaScript, which creates an obscure source or machine code. The attackers behind Ghostcat use this to trick the publishers’ ad blockers, preventing them from detecting malicious content. The code also checks for additional conditions necessary for the attack, like ensuring that the malware is being run on a mobile device and a mobile-specific browser, for example. If the malware concludes that the browsing environment fits the descriptions of their target, it will serve a fraudulent pop-up, leading the user to malicious content.

Bewitched WAV Files

Ghostcat isn’t the only way malware is being spread lately, as, according to ZDNet, attackers have manipulated WAV audio files to spread malware and cryptominers. By using a technique called stenography, malware authors can hide malicious code inside of a file that appears normal, which allows hackers to bypass security software and firewalls.

Previously, cybercriminals have used stenography revolving around image file formats like PNG or JPEG. However, these crooks have now upped the ante by using WAV audio files to hide different types of malware. Most recently, researchers found that this technique is used to hide DLLs, or dynamic link libraries that contain code and data that can be used by more than one program at the same time. If malware was already present on an infected host device, it would download and read the WAV file, extract the DLL, and install a cryptocurrency miner called XMRrig. Cryptocurrency miners compile all transactions into blocks to solve complicated mathematical problems and compete with other miners for bitcoins. To do this, miners need a ton of computer resources. As a result, miners tend to drain the victim’s device of its computer processor’s resources, creating a real cybersecurity headache.

MedusaLocker Ransomware

Finally, we have the mysterious MedusaLocker ransomware. According to BleepingComputer, this threat is slithering its way onto users’ devices, encrypting files until the victim purchases a decryptor.

This strain will perform various startup routines to prep the victim’s device for encryption. Additionally, it will ensure that Windows networking is running and mapped network drives (shortcuts to a shared folder on a remote computer or server) are accessible. Then, it will shut down security programs, clear data duplicates so they can’t be used to restore files, remove backups made with Windows backup, and disable the Windows automatic startup repair.

For each folder that contains an encrypted file, MedusaLocker creates a ransom note with two email addresses to contact for payment. However, it is currently unknown how much the attackers are demanding for the victim to have their files released or if they actually provide a decryptor once they receive a payment.

With all of these threats attempting to haunt networks and devices, what can users do to help themselves have a safe and secure spooky season? Follow these tips to keep cybersecurity tricks at bay:

  • Watch what you click. Avoid clicking on unknown links or suspicious pop-ups, especially those coming from someone you don’t know.
  • Be selective about which sites you visit. Only use well-known and trusted sites. One way to determine if a site is potentially malicious is by checking its URL. If the URL address contains multiple grammar or spelling errors and suspicious characters, avoid interacting with the site.
  • If your computer slows down, be cautious. One way you can identify a cryptojacking attack – poor performance. If your device is slow or acting strange, start investigating and see if your device may be infected with malware.
  • Surf the web safely. You can use a tool like McAfee WebAdvisor, which will flag any sites that may be malicious without your knowing.
  • Use a comprehensive security solution. To secure your device and help keep your system running smoothly and safely, use a program like McAfee Total Protection.

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

The post A Cybersecurity Horror Story: October’s Creepiest Threats and How to Stay Secure appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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15 Easy, Effective Ways to Start Winning Back Your Online Privacy

NCSAM

NCSAM

Someone recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, and I had to think about it for a few minutes. I certainly don’t need any more stuff. However, if I could name one gift that would make me absolutely giddy, it would be getting a chunk of my privacy back.

Like most people, the internet knows way too much about me — my age, address, phone numbers and job titles for the past 10 years, my home value, the names and ages of family members  — and I’d like to change that.

But there’s a catch: Like most people, I can’t go off the digital grid altogether because my professional life requires me to maintain an online presence. So, the more critical question is this:

How private do I want to be online?  

The answer to that question will differ for everyone. However, as the privacy conversation continues to escalate, consider a family huddle. Google each family member’s name, review search results, and decide on your comfort level with what you see. To start putting new habits in place, consider these 15 tips.

15 ways to reign in your family’s privacy

  1. Limit public sharing. Don’t share more information than necessary on any online platform, including private texts and messages. Hackers and cyber thieves mine for data around the clock.
  2. Control your digital footprint. Limit information online by a) setting social media profiles to private b) regularly editing friends lists c) deleting personal information on social profiles d) limiting app permissions someone and browser extensions e) being careful not to overshare.NCSAM
  3. Search incognito. Use your browser in private or incognito mode to reduce some tracking and auto-filling.
  4. Use secure messaging apps. While WhatsApp has plenty of safety risks for minors, in terms of data privacy, it’s a winner because it includes end-to-end encryption that prevents anyone in the middle from reading private communications.
  5. Install an ad blocker. If you don’t like the idea of third parties following you around online, and peppering your feed with personalized ads, consider installing an ad blocker.
  6. Remove yourself from data broker sites. Dozens of companies can harvest your personal information from public records online, compile it, and sell it. To delete your name and data from companies such as PeopleFinder, Spokeo, White Pages, or MyLife, make a formal request to the company (or find the opt-out button on their sites) and followup to make sure it was deleted. If you still aren’t happy with the amount of personal data online, you can also use a fee-based service such as DeleteMe.com.
  7. Be wise to scams. Don’t open strange emails, click random downloads, connect with strangers online, or send money to unverified individuals or organizations.
  8. Use bulletproof passwords. When it comes to data protection, the strength of your password, and these best practices matter.
  9. Turn off devices. When you’re finished using your laptop, smartphone, or IoT devices, turn them off to protect against rogue attacks.NCSAM
  10. Safeguard your SSN. Just because a form (doctor, college and job applications, ticket purchases) asks for your Social Security Number (SSN) doesn’t mean you have to provide it.
  11. Avoid public Wi-Fi. Public networks are targets for hackers who are hoping to intercept personal information; opt for the security of a family VPN.
  12. Purge old, unused apps and data. To strengthen security, regularly delete old data, photos, apps, emails, and unused accounts.
  13. Protect all devices. Make sure all your devices are protected viruses, malware, with reputable security software.
  14. Review bank statements. Check bank statements often for fraudulent purchases and pay special attention to small transactions.
  15. Turn off Bluetooth. Bluetooth technology is convenient, but outside sources can compromise it, so turn it off when it’s not in use.

Is it possible to keep ourselves and our children off the digital grid and lock down our digital privacy 100%? Sadly, probably not. But one thing is for sure: We can all do better by taking specific steps to build new digital habits every day.

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Be Part of Something Big

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Become part of the effort to make sure that our online lives are as safe and secure as possible. Use the hashtags #CyberAware, #BeCyberSafe, and #NCSAM to track the conversation in real-time.

The post 15 Easy, Effective Ways to Start Winning Back Your Online Privacy appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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