Why does China want your gmail account?

Google is certain that the latest hacking attempt comes from Jinan, China as a phishing scam to obtain gmail passwords. This type of attack happens all the time, but since senior level US government officials, military personnel and political activists were targeted the intent seems much more sinister. The attacks were common phishing schemes that are not very sophisticated opening speculation that this was testing the water and that the information may be used for broader attacks. If someone has your username and password, they can hijack your account.  Not only will they have access to your email, but they can change account settings, forward email and send email as you.  If you are unaware that your account has been compromised, the hacker can play havoc with your information and identity. Certainly, you have heard these warnings: create a strong password, don’t divulge username … [Read more...]

How to Protect Your Computer Against Malware

Each year the damages from computer malware cost US businesses billions of dollars. These costs are not only in lost productivity, but permanent loss of critical business data. Arguably, most if not all infections are preventable with the proper understanding, training and protection. Don’t be the next victim, take the steps now to ensure protection and recovery if the worst should happen. First, let’s understand computer malware. Often the term virus is used to describe all malware. Technically speaking, there are viruses, rootkits, Trojan horses, worms and spyware. The attack method may differ but they are all malicious. A virus is a program that runs itself and replicates itself. It can affect files or the boot sector and can delete all your data. The “Melissa” and “I Love You” viruses gained global attention. A rootkit or Trojan horse allows access to your system without … [Read more...]

One-Third of World Spam

With the arrest of Oleg Nikolaenko, the young Russian responsible for billions of spam messages each day, the world is wondering what it would be like with one-third less spam. There are over 250 billion email messages sent each day. With 86,400 seconds in a day, that’s about 3 million email messages a second.  Conservatively, 80% is spam.  That means that 2.5 million emails each second are spam.  Many of those emails are caught by spam filters, but the spam that makes it to inboxes still cause major problems.  Spam is profitable and despite the repeated warnings, people still click on spam. Ordering pharmaceuticals or fake Rolex watches from spam hurts you in two ways. First, they take your money for the item and you get an empty box if you get anything at all.  And second, you can be highjacked and become part of the botnet.  A botnet is like the Borg for computers. Your computer … [Read more...]

What Hackers Want

Especially after someone has been the victim of a hacking attack, they want to know why. Hackers have many motives and trying to decipher their behavior is complicated. The classification of white hats, black hats, grey hats and such is an interesting attempt to legitimatize electronic spying and sabotage.  Perhaps there are “good hackers” that perform a valuable service, but most attacks are malicious in nature.  Generally, hackers want to take something from you, teach you a lesson or show their programming skills. Taking something from you.  This can be financial information, social media login and password, your time or your peace of mind.  Many victims of infections that cause pop-ups with objectionable material are traumatized.  They often react like the victim of a physical crime.  Anyone that has been hit with difficult to remove malware knows that it can be time-consuming and … [Read more...]

Fighting Spam

Over 90% of email is unsolicited and unwanted. Junk emails flood the electronic delivery system with messages that we just don’t want and phishing schemes fool millions each year.  These abuses waste time and resources and are one of the biggest productivity drains that businesses face. Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of all spam but you can manage the problem and protect your business from incidental damage.  Make sure you have a clear email policy and train users so they don’t fall for spam tricks. Use a Spam Filter – although spammers work on beating the filter, this is your best first defense. Never reply to spam, not even to unsubscribe – often this just confirms your email is valid. Disable automatic downloading of HTML pictures -  spammers get confirmation that you opened the message if the graphics (pictures) are downloaded. Don’t participate in chain emails – these … [Read more...]