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WHAT’S THE DIFFERNCE BETWEEN VIRUSES AND MALWARE?

WHAT’S THE DIFFERNCE BETWEEN VIRUSES AND MALWARE?

What’s a virus?

‘Virus’ is probably the word that’s used more than any other in this area, and it can get bandied around as a kind of catch-all. People will talk about antivirus software, and about any kind of malicious attack as being caused by a virus. Sometimes, this isn’t quite right.

A virus is actually a fairly specific kind of attack, caused by your computer either coming into contact with or booting from an infected USB or disk drive, or by the download and launch of an infected program- or even by macros, hidden in fake documents, often made to look real. As the name suggests, viruses are infectious and tend to spread across your computer system, infecting new programs or discs, laying low until the moment when the virus’ ‘payload’ is activated, and it begins to act maliciously. Viruses are often used to steal information, or to launch denial of service attacks on websites, using infected machines. They might also overwrite the information on your computer, and can generally wreak havoc.

What’s malware?

Malware, on the other hand, is the catch-all term that’s quite often meant when people use the term virus. Malware is any kind of program or software that’s being used maliciously, to attack or harm computers and computer networks. Viruses are a type of malware, but they’re just one kind. Malware includes attacks that function in different ways from viruses, such as worms, and types of software with specific objectives, such as spyware (malware designed to spy on its victims), ransomware (malware designed to extort its victims) and adware (malware designed to spam its victims with lots of ads).

What can these do?

Malware and viruses are dangerous because they can give malicious actors access to and/or control over your computer systems. They can also steal information, and make your machines complicit in attacks on other computers, whether by infecting connected systems or by rerouting their malicious actions through your system.

So what can you do?

Most ‘antivirus’ programs are actually anti-malware, working against much more than just viruses. However, free antivirus programs might not protect against all threats, as malware programs are constantly evolving and adapting, to evade efforts to stop them, avoid detection and become more effective.

Luckily, Freelance Computers provides cloud-based malware protection, meaning that our malware and virus remover keeps up-to-date with the latest developments from malicious actors, responding in real-time, and so is able to protect you against all kinds of malware attacks. Crucially, since email attachments remain a very popular method of infecting computers with malware, Freelance Computers provides a wide variety of email security services, including features like attachment filtering, to protect against common attacks.

MONGO-LOCK RANSOMWARE

MONGO-LOCK RANSOMWARE

MongoLock tries to remove files, along with formatting drives using special commands through “cmd” and targets databases with weak security settings. MongoLock will drop a ransom note in the form of a “warning.txt” using notepad or as an entry inside any database, it may find on the system. This is a new form of MongoLock ransomware that is actively being used in the wild today with a global reach. The ransom note is asking for 0.1 BTC to a specified Bitcoin wallet.

WHAT IS PHISHING?

WHAT IS PHISHING?

Phishing is a scam that uses email to try and trick you into giving out confidential information.

Phishing emails will often use familiar logos and look like they’ve come from a genuine company or person, but are actually sent by criminals who want to access your online accounts and details.

Phishing emails can be tricky to spot; which is why it is important to stay alert and report any mail that looks suspicious.

HOW TO SPOT PHISHING EMAILS

Mismatched URL’s

The email may contain a link to a website that looks genuine but isn’t. You can usually tell if the link is going to direct you to a trustworthy website by hovering your mouse over the link. If the linked website address is different from the text displayed in the email, it is probably fraudulent and could link to a fake website.

(On an iPhone or iPad, tap and hold the link until a pop-up box appears with options. Tap the link URL at the top of the pop-up).

Poor spelling and grammar

This is one of the most common signs of a malicious email. Companies will usually have their marketing emails reviewed before they’re sent so if the email is full of spelling mistakes and poor grammar, it is most likely a scam.

Unbelievable offers:

“Congratulations! You’ve won!” Emails containing exclusive offers that are too good to be true are usually scams. An email congratulating you on a prize draw or competition you’ve won but never entered usually contain links to “claim your prize”. These links will direct you to a fake website where you could be asked to give confidential information.

Sender’s email address:

It’s worth checking that the sender’s email address matches who they say they are.

Confidential questions

You should be wary of any email that asks you to give out personal or confidential information no matter how realistic it looks. A legitimate email shouldn’t ask you for security details like pin numbers, passwords or account details.

Dear customer:

Any email that doesn’t use your name and addresses you as ‘customer’ is a warning sign for a phishing scam. Scammers usually send thousands of phishing emails at a time so keep an eye out for generic greetings.

Requests to send money:

As a general rule, any email with requests to send money should be considered a scam. Scammers might ask you for money to cover expenses or fees in return for a service.

URGENT! IMPORTANT!:

You could receive an email to say ‘your account will be closed’ and scammers will try and make you panic and react quickly to send confidential information. These emails are usually made to look like they’ve been sent from your bank.

The message appears to be from a government agency:

These phishing emails claim to be from government departments such as HMRC or law enforcement agencies and are created to scare and pressure you into giving out confidential information.

HOW DO SPAMMERS GET MY EMAIL ADDRESS?

HOW DO SPAMMERS GET MY EMAIL ADDRESS

There are several common ways that spammers can get your email address:

  • Crawling the web for the @ sign. Spammers and cybercriminals use sophisticated tools to scan the web and harvest email addresses. If you publicly post your email address online, a spammer will find it.
  • Making good guesses… and lots of them. Cybercriminals use tools to generate common user names and pair them with common domains. These tools are similar to the ones that are used to crack passwords. And they work.
  • Tricking your friends. Even if you know better than to publicly post your email address on the web, it could still be stored in the email inbox of anyone who’s ever emailed you or whom you’ve ever emailed. Cybercriminals can steal contact lists or use social engineering to trick people into giving them access.
  • Buying lists. Spammers can purchase lists legally and illegally. When you sign up for a website or a service, make sure you read the privacy policy carefully to find out what the site plans to do with your email address.

It pays to keep your email address as private as possible, but sometimes it seems like there’s nothing you can do to keep it out of the hands of spammers. For this reason you have to combine smart privacy practices with strong email filters.

WEBSITE SECURITY MYTHS

WEBSITE SECURITY MYTHS

Some conversations are easy… some are difficult. Some are harmonious and some are laborious. But when it comes to website security, the conversation is confusing.

Every organisation agrees, in theory, that their websites need to be secure. But in practice, there is resistance to investing enough time and budget. Reasons for neglecting security include misconceptions surrounding Web Application security.

Below I’ve outlined some of the most common myths and misconceptions that can often put your website at serious security risks.

My website is not the target of an attack because it is small and I run a small business.

An average small business website is attacked 44 times per day. In addition, a low profile website is a nice playground for hackers to try out new tools and techniques. Hackers often use automated tools to find various vulnerable websites and don’t discriminate when it comes to the size of the target. Any web application, even if it is not itself a target, may be of interest to attackers. Web applications with lax security are easy pickings for hackers and can be subject to a mass or targeted cyber attack.

We have not been attacked in years so, there’s nothing to worry about

Just because you can’t see an attack, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

According to one of the studies, at any given moment, 18.7 million sites around the world are infected by some form of malware. Automated web attacks that fly under the radar are damaging businesses at a large scale. Some bots are dangerously adept at operating under the guise of a legitimate user.

I have thoroughly tested my website and have fixed most of the known bugs. My site is completely secured now

Security is also about constant monitoring and testing the complete stack of your application.

In the latest White Hat study, the organisations that conducted security testing had, on average, as many as 10 vulnerabilities and only 50% of them got fixed. Modern websites are constantly changing. Every new line of code has the potential to introduce a new security issue.

Good security practices include having ‘visibility’ and necessary ‘verifications’ of the traffic patterns and the security posture of your website. Many modern Web monitoring tools, like Google Alerts, provide affordable, easy to use visibility and verification strategies.

The ability to measure web application security is critical for any business having a web facing asset. Attack metrics like ill-reputed data (IP, tracking IDs), attacks by countries and IPs, most attacked URLs, etc. need to be measured. Such data provide context, awareness and actionable response about current and emerging threats.