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Cyber News Rundown: Botnet Targets Brazil’s Banks

Brazilian Bank Traffic Rerouted by Massive Botnet A botnet containing more than 100,000 routers and other devices was recently spotted hijacking traffic destined for several Brazilian banks. The hijacking victims are then sent to one of at least 50 confirmed phishing...

Unsecure RDP Connections are a Widespread Security Failure

While ransomware, last year’s dominant threat, has taken a backseat to cryptomining attacks in 2018, it has by no means disappeared. Instead, ransomware has become a more targeted business model for cybercriminals, with unsecured remote desktop protocol (RDP)...

EICAR – The Most Common False Positive in the World

If you saw a file called eicar.com on your computer, you might think it was malware. But, you would be wrong. Readers, if you haven’t yet met the EICAR test file, allow me to introduce you to it. If you have used the EICAR test file, let’s get a bit cozier with it. If...

Crime and Crypto: An Evolution in Cyber Threats

Cybercriminals are constantly experimenting with new ways to take money from their victims. Their tactics evolve quickly to maximize returns and minimize risk. The emergence of cryptocurrency has opened up new opportunities to do just that. To better understand...

3 Cyber Threats IT Providers Should Protect Against

With cybercrime damages set to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, a new bar has been set for cybersecurity teams across industries to defend their assets. This rings especially true for IT service providers, who are entrusted to keep their clients’ systems...

Webroot WiFi Security: Expanding Our Commitment to Security & Privacy

Reading Time: ~3 min.

For the past 20 years, Webroot’s technology has been driven by our dedication to protecting users from malware, viruses, and other online threats. The release of Webroot® WiFi Security—a new virtual private network (VPN) app for phones, computers, and tablets—is the next step in fulfilling our commitment to protect everyone’s right to be secure in a connected world.

“Launching Webroot WiFi Security is a valuable and exciting progression in our mission,” said Webroot Director of Consumer Product Andy Mallinger. “Antivirus solutions protect your devices from malware and other cyber threats, and a VPN protects your data as it’s sent and received over networks—especially public networks. This combination allows us to extend our protection of personal data beyond the device to the network.”

Shifting tides

Webroot WiFi Security arrives at a time when the fragile state of our online privacy is becoming more apparent and better understood by internet users around the world. Recent revelations of government surveillance via the Snowden leaks, social media data collection like that in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, and data breaches including the Equifax hack have fueled a palpable rise in data privacy concerns.

Over half of internet users from around the world say they are “more concerned about their online privacy than they were a year ago,” according to a 2018 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust.

Another key factor with grave implications for data privacy in the United States specifically was the 2017 repeal of privacy regulations for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which aimed to ensure broadband customers had choice, greater transparency, and strong security protections for their personal info collected by ISPs.

“ISPs are facing less regulation today, and so can continue to share, sell, and profit by passing on user information to third parties— browser history, location, communications content, financial details, etc.—without the user’s knowledge or consent,” said Webroot Sr. VP of Product Strategy & Technology Alliances Chad Bacher.

Taking control of privacy

Now more than ever, individual users must take steps to regain control over their online privacy and security. Along with keeping trusted antivirus software installed on mobile and home devices, users should actively protect their data in transit over networks with a VPN.

But it’s important to note that all VPN applications are not created equal. Many users looking for a privacy solution find themselves wondering if they can trust that their VPN provider has their interests at heart. Consumer wariness concerning the privacy of VPN products is justified—some VPN apps, especially free ones, are guilty of sharing or selling their user data to third parties, limiting bandwidth, or serving ads. Facebook’s VPN app was recently removed from the Apple App Store® following concerns over the app’s misuse of user data.

Webroot WiFi Security provides one of the most powerful forms of encryption available, AES 256-bit encryption, and protects user data from cybercriminals and ISPs alike. Webroot WiFi Security does not collect your browsing activity, the sites you visit, downloaded data (or shared or viewed), DNS queries, or IP addresses. The full Webroot WiFi Security Privacy Statement can be found here.

Privacy plus the protection of Web Filtering

In addition to the privacy safeguards of Webroot WiFi Security that protect users while they work, share, bank, and browse online, users also benefit from the integration of Webroot BrightCloud® Threat Intelligence.* The app’s Web Filtering feature provides an extra layer of protection to keep your financial information, passwords, and personal files from being exploited. Webroot WiFi Security is powered by the same threat intelligence platform the world’s leading IT security vendors trust.

“Not only is Webroot protecting user privacy, it’s also shielding users from phishing sites and websites associated with malware,” said Malinger.

Webroot WiFi Security is compatible with devices running iOS®, Android, macOS® and Windows® operating systems, and is now available to download on the Apple App Store, Google Play store, and Webroot.com.

*Only available on Windows, Mac and Android systems

Social Media Malware is Deviant, Destructive

Reading Time: ~4 min.

We’ve seen some tricky techniques used by cybercriminals to distribute malware through social media. One common threat begins with a previously compromised Facebook account sending deceptive messages that contain SVG image attachments via Facebook Messenger. (The SVG extention is an XML-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics with support for interactivity and animation.)

Cybercriminals prefer this XML-based image as it allows dynamic content. This enables the criminals to add malicious JavaScript code right inside the photo itself—in this case, linking to an external site. Users who click on the image find themselves on a website posing as YouTube that pushes a popup to install a browser extension or add-on or to view a video. There are plenty of red flags here like the URL clearly not being YouTube.com, as well as the fact that YouTube does not require any extensions to view videos.

Facebook messenger spreading an SVG image containing a harmful script

An example of a fake YouTube page with malicious browser extension popup

Worm-like propagation

If a you were to install this extension, it will take advantage of your browser access to your Facebook account to secretly mass-message your friends with the same SVG image file—like a worm, this is how it spreads. Victims don’t need to have very many friends for this tactic to be successful at propagating. For instance, if you have over 100 friends, then you only need less than 1% of your friends to fall for this for the scam for it to continue to propagate.

To make matters worse, the extension also downloads Nemucod, a generic malware downloader generally used to download and install a variety of other threats. Usually the go-to threat is ransomware given it’s proven business model for criminals.

Social media managers at risk

Those who manage social media accounts on behalf of businesses are particularly at risk of advanced malware and other cyberattacks. Earlier this spring, a new Windows trojan dubbed Stresspaint was found hidden inside a fake stress-relief app and likely spread through email and Facebook spam campaigns to infect 35,000 users, according to researchers at Radware who discovered the malware.

Stresspaint was rather deviant in the way it stole Facebook account credentials and logged into accounts looking specifically for data such as “each user’s number of friends, whether the account manages a Facebook Page or not, and if the account has a payment method saved in its settings,” according to Bleeping Computer.

Allowing cybercriminals to gain control of brand social media accounts can carry grave consequences such as reputation damage, loss of confidential information, and deeper access into an organization’s network. Last year, HBO was humiliated on their social profiles when the notorious hacker group OurMine breached several the network’s accounts and posted messages before the company finally regained control of their logins.

Source: u/marialfc on Reddit.

Crypto users targeted

Following the recent trend in malware, sophisticated variants of existing strains are now aimed at cryptocurrency users. A malicious Google Chrome extension called FacexWorm, which spreads through Facebook Messenger, was found to have morphed with a new ability to hijack cryptocurrency transactions made on a host of popular online exchanges, according to Coindesk. This further underlines the importance of exercising caution with the information you share on social media to avoid being a target, particularly if you are a user of cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency scams are another common threat that spreads throughout social media. Twitter is particularly notorious an outbreak of crypto scam bots that pose as high-profile tech leaders and industry influencers. Learn more about this type scam in my previous post.

Don’t let your guard down

Given the nature of social networks, many are likely to consider themselves to be in the company of friends on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, this assumption can be dangerous when you begin to trust links on social sites more than you would in your email inbox or other websites. For instance, a simple bot-spam message on Twitter was able to grant a hacker access to a Pentagon official’s computer, according to a New York Times report published last year.

It’s wise to be wary of clicking on all links, even those sent by friends, family or professional connections, as compromised social media accounts are often used to spread scams, phishing, and other types of cyberattacks. After all, just one wrong click can lead to an avalanche of cyber woes, such as identity theft, data loss, and damaged devices.

Have you encountered malware or other threats on social media? Share your story or ask a question in the comments below!

American Cybercrime: The Riskiest States in 2018

Reading Time: ~4 min.

Nearly 50 percent of Americans don’t use antivirus software

That’s right; something as basic as installing internet security software (which we all know we’re supposed to use) is completely ignored by about half the US. You’d be amazed how common this and other risky online behaviors are. We did a survey of people’s internet habits across the United States, and the numbers aren’t pretty.

For reference, some very common (and very risky) online behaviors include:

  • Not using antivirus software
  • Sharing your account passwords
  • Using too-simple passwords, or reusing the same password for multiple accounts
  • Not using an ad or pop-up blocker
  • Opening emails, clicking links, and downloading files from unknown sources
  • Not installing security on mobile devices

State-by-state Breakdown of the Riskiest Cyber Behaviors

We analyzed all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to rank them on their cyber hygiene habits. This ranking system uses positive and negative survey questions weighted by the relative importance of each question. These questions address several topics, including infection incidents, identity theft, password habits, computer sharing, software update habits, antivirus/internet security usage, backup habits, understanding of phishing, etc.

*Read the full report here.

Florida wins the dubious distinction of riskiest state with the worst cyber hygiene. But before anyone pokes fun, we’d like to point out that the average resident of any state in the nation has pretty poor cyber hygiene. Only 6 states in the nation had good cyber hygiene scores.

Impacts of Risky Behavior

When you engage practice poor cyber hygiene, you’re not just running the risk of getting infected or losing a few files.

In our research, we asked respondents who had suffered identity theft, “what were the main consequences of the identity theft incident?” Some of the self-reported fall-out was both surprising and tragic, including responses like divorced spouse, bankruptcy, failed to obtain mortgage, had to get second job, had to sell house, increased alcohol consumption, delayed retirement, and diminished physical health.

When we consider that identity theft can mean such devastating consequences as divorce, bankruptcy, and even damage to our health, it becomes clear just how important good cyber hygiene really is.

What the Riskiest States are Doing Wrong

Stats from the 5 riskiest states (Florida, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Illinois):

  • Identity theft had little to no impact on their cyber hygiene habits. That means even after learning the consequences first hand, very few people changed their habits.
  • These states had the highest per-person average (28 percent) of having experienced 10+ malware infections in a single year.
  • 50 percent+ of respondents in Florida, Illinois, Montana, and 45 percent of respondents from New Mexico and Wyoming said they don’t use any kind of antivirus or internet security.
  • 47 percent of respondents never back up their data.
  • An average of 72 percent share their passwords.

What the Safest States are Doing Right

The 5 safest states had many behaviors in common that kept them ahead of the malware curve.

  • Following cases of identity theft, nearly 80 percent of respondents from the 5 safest states reported that they had altered their online habits, and almost 60 percent changed their passwords.
  • Only 14.4 percent of respondents the safe states experienced 10 or more infections a year.
  • The safest states typically reported running paid-for antivirus/security solutions, rather than freeware, unlike their risky counterparts.
  • Finally, nearly half (43 percent) of the 5 safest states automatically update their operating systems, and 35 percent of respondents regularly back up their data, either on a daily or continuous basis.
  • And of the top 4, password sharing was hardly an issue (88 percent of respondents from those states reported they don’t share passwords at all.)

The Role of Demographics and additional findings

Given Florida’s reputation as a retirement hotspot, we wanted to point out that 50 percent of Florida’s respondents in our study were age 30 or below, and the national average of respondents aged 30 or below was 47 percent. This means age demographics in our survey were consistent throughout all 50 states and D.C. and our responses actually skew younger rather than older.

How to Increase Your Personal Cyber Hygiene Score (It’s not too late!)

Here’s a quick to-do list that will help keep you safe from malware, identity theft, and other online risks. It’s not as hard as you might think.

  1. Use antivirus software. And keep in mind, while there are plenty of free tools out there that are better than nothing, you get what you pay for. Your online security, and that of your family, is worth a little investment.
  2. Create strong passwords for each account, change them often, make sure each one is unique, and, if possible, add spaces for increased security. If you’re worried about keeping track of them all, use a password manager.
  3. Stop sharing your login credentials with friends, family, and coworkers. We mean it.
  4. Closely monitor your financial accounts for any fraudulent activity, and consider using a credit monitoring or identity protection service.
  5. Regularly update your operating system and software applications. Lots of infections start by exploiting out-of-date systems.
  6. Don’t open emails from people you don’t know, and don’t download anything from an email unless you’re certain it’s legitimate. And if you get a message that appears to be from an official or financial institution asking you to take an action, don’t click any links. Go straight to the institution’s official website, or call them to confirm whether the message you received was real.
  7. Back up your files and important data regularly to a secure cloud or physical drive.

There are a lot of risks out there, and as an internet user, you have a responsibility to use good judgement when you work, bank, shop, browse, and take other actions online. But by following these easy tips, you can dramatically change your cyber hygiene score, and reduce your risk of falling victim to cybercrime.

Update 8/15/18: The cyber hygiene survey previously embedded in this blog is now closed.

Bad Apps: Protect Your Smartphone from Mobile Malware

Reading Time: ~2 min.

Smartphone apps make life easier, more productive, and more entertaining. But can you trust every app you come across? Malicious mobile apps create easy access to your devices for Android and iOS malware to wreak havoc. And there are many untrusted and potentially dangerous apps lurking around in app stores determined to outsmart your smartphone. With the average user having 35 apps installed on their phone, according to Google, it’s easy to see why smartphones can be such a easy target.

But my iPhone is safe, right?

Both Apple iOS and Android devices are targeted by hackers, and while the latter is a more popular target,  both platforms are both susceptible to various types of cyberattacks. After all, Apple’s latest version of iOS 11 was cracked just one day after its release via vulnerabilities in the Safari web browser, according to ZDNet.

Protect yourself from bad apps:

All of this means that unprotected smartphones are soft targets for cybercriminals, with weaknesses that hackers can ultimately exploit to generate revenue. The first defense is knowing that you can’t trust all apps. These tips will also help you stay protected as you search for the good ones:

  1. Download apps from reputable stores. The major, reliable providers are Galaxy Apps (Samsung), the App Store (iOS), Amazon App Store, and Google Play (Android).
    Google Play, for example, scans 50 billion apps daily to detect malware before publishing new ones.
  2. Disable “Unknown Sources” for Android devices, which prevents installing apps from sources other than the Google Play Store. So, if you use Amazon App Store, you’ll need to enable “Unknown Sources”. In that case, be mindful before allowing any other app or website to install something on your phone. It should also be noted that changes to this functionality are coming with the latest update to Android’s Oreo operating system.
  3. Keep Android USB debugging off. It can prevent outside malware from accessing your phone through corded connections, such as from a public charging station.
  4. Don’t jailbreak your iPhone. Allowing access and changes to your phone’s software can allows outsider apps that may not be trustworthy.
  5. Beware of any website, text, email, or anything asking you to install an app. Search for your own apps at the store and research all apps before installing.
  6. Beware of granting excessive permissions. Apps that perform basic functions, such as a flashlight, don’t need to access your personal information, for example.
  7. Read app reviews before installing, and review and report sinister apps. Users working together as a community can help alert unsuspecting victims to phony apps.
  8. Be cautious about providing your credit card or banking information. Avoid making transactions over apps that are not well known to you or the user community and be careful about hidden charges such as microtransactions.
  9. Install OS and other software updates. It always recommended to keep your OS and apps updated with the latest patches. It’s also smart to consider phones from vendors that release prompt security patches. Many software updates are designed to defend against malware and other emergent threats.
  10. Use trusted internet security software. No matter how careful you are, it is wise to employ a reputable layer of online security.

Prevention, prevention, prevention.

Sometimes free mobile apps, including free security software apps from unknown providers, are suspect. The convenience of a quick download and excessive trust are not worth saving a few seconds or cents. Do your research, follow these 10 tips, and protect your well-being on any mobile device.

 

Tech Support Scams: From Bad to Worse

Reading Time: ~2 min.

Fake tech support scams aren’t going anywhere. In fact, recent data shows this type of social engineering attack is on the rise—with phony tech support calls, emails, and pop-ups peddling the digital equivalent of snake oil to unsuspecting internet users around the world.

While many people have grown wise enough to spot the warning signs of the typical tech support scam, a significant percentage fall victim, and exploiting their naivety can prove quite profitable for cybercriminals. A recent report from Microsoft describes a growing global problem: 153,000 reports were received from Microsoft customers involved in tech support scams in 2017, leading to a 24 percent rise in tech scams reported by Microsoft from the previous year. Those who lost money forked over an average of $200 and $400.

“It doesn’t require a great deal of technical knowledge to carry out a support scam, so it’s easy to see why criminals are choosing to jump into this field,” said Marcus Moreno, Supervisor of Threat Research at Webroot. “All that’s is needed is gaining the user’s trust and knowing more than they do about their computer. Whether criminals pay websites to host their fake support banners, or they proactively reach out to you, it doesn’t take much expertise.”

Due to the lucrative nature and relative success rate of these social engineering tactics, tech support fraud continues to propagate. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received around 11,000 cases of tech support scams in 2017, with victims claiming nearly $15 million in losses. That’s a shocking 86 percent increase from 2016!

The IC3 report also noted new variations of the typical tech support scam, with attackers resorting to posing as law enforcement to re-target previous victims by offering phony recovery assistance in exchange for a fee. Tech support scams are also turning to target cryptocurrency users, where the stakes can be higher, netting potentially thousands of dollars from a single victim.

Cold calls? Hold the phone!

The number one thing to keep in mind is that major tech companies—whether that’s Microsoft, your security software provider, or your device manufacturer—will never call you out of the blue. Beyond attempting to dupe a victim out of a fee for fake support services, cybercriminals can also try to gain remote access to your computer to steal personal information and install malware that can carry on the attack after the phone call has ended.

It’s also important to know that tech support scams also appear in the form of malvertising, such as pop-ups that can be found even on legitimate websites. These scam ads try to trick users with various fake system errors or malware infection warnings. Thousands of websites were recently discovered to be infected with malicious ads that lock users’ browsers and display a fake infection warning, according to SC Magazine. Web-based threats like this highlight the importance of keeping your devices updated and secure, as well as practicing safe browsing habits.

Visit our Cybersecurity Education Resources to understand more about common tech support scams and how to avoid falling victim. There you can also find blacklists of URLs and phone numbers known to impersonate Webroot and target our customers.

‘Smishing’: An Emerging Trend of Phishing Scams via Text Messages

Reading Time: ~3 min.

Text messages are now a common way for people to engage with brands and services, with many now preferring texts over email. But today’s scammers have taken a liking to text messages or smishing, too, and are now targeting victims with text message scams sent via shortcodes instead of traditional email-based phishing attacks.

What do we mean by shortcodes

Businesses typically use shortcodes to send and receive text messages with customers. You’ve probably used them before—for instance, you may have received shipping information from FedEx via the shortcode ‘46339’. Other shortcode uses include airline flight confirmations, identity verification, and routine account alerts. Shortcodes are typically four to six digits in the United States, but different countries have different formats and number designations.

The benefits of shortcodes are fairly obvious. Texts can be more immediate and convenient, making it easier for customers to access links and interact with their favorite brands and services. One major drawback, however, is the potential to be scammed by a SMS-based phishing attack, or ‘Smishing’ attack. (Not surprisingly given the cybersecurity field’s fondness for combining words, smishing is a combination of SMS and phishing.)

All the Dangers of Phishing Attacks, Little of the Awareness

The most obvious example of a smishing attack is a text message containing a link to mobile malware. Mistakenly clicking on this type of link can lead to a malicious app being installed on your smartphone. Once installed, mobile malware can be used to log your keystrokes, steal your identity, or hold your valuable files for ransom. Many of the traditional dangers in opening emails and attachments from unknown senders are the same in smishing attacks, but many people are far less familiar with this type of attack and therefore less likely to be on guard against it.

Text messages from shortcodes can contain links to malware and other dangers.

Smishing for Aid Dollars

Another possible risk in shortcodes is that sending a one-word response can trigger a transaction, allowing a charge to appear on your mobile carrier’s bill. When a natural disaster strikes, it is common for charities to use shortcodes to make it incredibly easy to donate money to support relief efforts. For instance, if you text “PREVENT” to the shortcode 90999, you will donate $10 USD to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

But this also makes it incredibly easy for a scammer to tell you to text “MONSOON” to a shortcode number while posing as a legitimate organization. These types of smishing scams can lead to costly fraudulent charges on your phone bill, not to mention erode aid agencies ability to solicit legitimate donations from a wary public. A good resource for determining the authenticity of a shortcode in the United States is the U.S. Short Code Directory. This site allows you to look up brands and the shortcodes they use, or vice versa.

Protect yourself from Smishing Attacks

While a trusted mobile security app can help you stay protected from a variety of mobile threats, avoiding smishing attacks demands a healthy dose of cyber awareness. Be skeptical of any text messages you receive from unknown senders and assume messages are risky until you are sure you know the sender or are expecting the message. Context is also very important. If a contact’s phone is lost or stolen, that contact can be impersonated. Make sure the message makes sense coming from that contact.

After the Hack: Tips for Damage Control

Reading Time: ~4 min.

According to the Identity Theft Research Center, in 2017 alone, nearly 158 million social security numbers were stolen as a result of 1579 data breaches. Once a cybercriminal has access to your personal info, they can open credit cards, take out loans that quickly ruin your credit, or leave you with a giant bill. But that’s not all. Many people don’t realize that, depending on how much information a hacker gets and what their intentions are, you could lose a lot more than money. From sending malware to your contacts from your account to spamming your coworkers with phishing attacks to compromise your employer’s network, the damage a hacker can wreak on your personal and professional life can extend far beyond the monetary bounds.

Additionally, according to Dave Dufour, VP of Engineering and Cybersecurity at Webroot, we’re seeing more evolution in cybercriminal tactics that take advantage of internet users and their trust:

“What’s happening lately is that people are hacking social media accounts. Why would anyone want your social media information? One reason is that, if I have access to one of your social media accounts, I can spread malware to all your followers who trust you. Pretending to be you, I can send out a link, your followers click it, and my malware is now on all of their devices.”

So, what do you do if you’ve been hit with malware, ransomware, phishing, or a social media attack? First, don’t panic. Second, follow these steps to deal with the fallout.

You’ve been hacked. Now what?

Change your passwords
The first step is one you’ve probably already heard: change all your passwords. Yes, all of them. Don’t forget make them strong by using at least 12 characters, changing out at least two or three of the characters to uppercase, using numbers or symbols (e.g., replacing an A with a @ or an S with a 5), avoid using places you’ve lived, acquaintances names, your pets, birthdays, or addresses—and don’t even think about using ABC or 123. If you have trouble keeping track of your passwords, we recommend you use to a secure password manager application that saves your credentials in an encrypted database and automatically fills them in when you log into a site.

Turn on two-factor authentication
Most accounts that house your personal information, such as email or banking, offer two-factor authentication. This provides an additional layer of security that goes beyond your username and password by asking you to confirm your login with an extra step, such as a short-term security code sent via text message or phone call. You can turn on two-factor authentication from the login screen of the account.

Check for updates
One of the best ways to keep your devices protected is to update your operating system regularly and ensure that any applications you use are patched and up to date. If you have questions, you can always call your device provider’s helpline. To make things even easier, most systems and software allow you to set up Automatic Updates, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to check for them manually.

Install antivirus protection and run a scan
Antivirus software is an extremely beneficial tool that doesn’t just help detect and remove malicious software that could be lurking on your computer, it can also stop threats before they infect your device in the first place. But be careful: avoid the temptation to download a free antivirus program, as these often come bundled with malware or potentially unwanted applications. Instead, invest in a reputable option. Once installed, be sure to run a scan and turn on automatic scans and updates.

Delete sensitive data from the compromised account
As soon as you realize you’ve been hacked, go to the compromised account and delete any sensitive data you can. For example, if you know you’ve stored your credit card information, bank statements, social security number etc. in your email or on any retail site, immediately delete them from those locations. This also goes for any personal photos or information you wouldn’t want released. And don’t forget to clear out your folders on any cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive™ or iCloud®.

Monitor bank statements and account activity
One of the top motivations of a cyberattack is to steal your money or identity to go on a shopping spree or use your financial accounts in some way. Be vigilant about monitoring your accounts for recent activity and check to make sure no new shipping addresses, payment methods, or accounts have been added. Also, call your bank and let them know about the incident so they can have their fraud department monitor your accounts.=

Deauthorize apps on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.
To protect your accounts and remove malicious individuals, check which apps are connected to your social media accounts and deactivate all of them. Did you sign into a site using your Facebook so you could see which historical figure you look like? That’s an example of something you should deactivate. You can find directions on how to do this for each account in its help or settings section or by contacting the associated customer service line.

Tell friends you’ve been hacked, so they don’t become victims, too
Another important step to take after you’ve been hacked is to alert your contacts. Many social media and email attackers will send messages from your account that contain malicious links, attachments, or urgent requests for money. Letting contacts know right away that your account has been compromised, and what to watch out for, can save them from the same fate.

Because technology continues to advance and the number of connected devices is growing exponentially, being the target of a cyberattack or identity theft is becoming more commonplace. But we’re here to help. Learn more about protecting yourself and your family online, and what you can do to stay safe from modern cybercrime.

Home Sweet Hackable Smart Home

Reading Time: ~4 min.

We live in the future. Not one with teleportation, time travel, or flying cars, but one where talking to inanimate objects is the “normal,” even “cool” thing to do.

According to The Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research, 39 million people now own an interactive, voice-activated smart speaker and, in just a few short years, the smart speaker has been joined by countless other smart gadgets, forming a network of connected devices known as the internet of things (IoT). These connected household devices have evolved from assisting with simple tasks like having Alexa play music, to having the ability to control nearly every part of the home, from the ambient temperature to the food that’s purchased for your refrigerator.

It’s pretty amazing, as long you remain in the captain’s chair. But what happens when you’re no longer the one in control?

They see you when you’re sleeping, know when you’re awake

Imagine coming home on a hot day to find your thermostat set to Phoenix-in-August-like temperatures and realizing you can’t change it. Or discovering your internet-connected appliances have been hijacked to do the bidding of cybercriminals in a DDoS attack by a massive IoT botnet. And what could be worse than finding out hackers have the ability to peek into the feed from the nursery webcam? These examples may sound like fear-mongering or idle, worst-case-scenario musings. But they’ve all already happened.

The more consumers buy and use internet-connected home devices, the more opportunities are created for hackers to break in, both digitally and physically. Since IoT products include everything from to fitness bands and home security cameras, to lights, doors, and cars, we run the risk of painting a detailed, time-stamped digital portrait of our daily lives for any hacker with the know-how to access these devices. All they need to access your entire network is one weak link.

Hacked by default

Why are IoT products so vulnerable? According to Webroot senior threat researcher Tyler Moffitt, “the underlining problem with all these emerging IoT devices is that the vendors are only focused on functionality, and have little to no budget for security vetting. Minimum viable product for maximum profit.”

The result? More vulnerabilities leading to more opportunities for attackers to hack your home. The proliferation and widespread adoption of IoT devices presents hackers with billions more targets than previously available, and their success rate need not be high. A single security oversight on a mass-produced device can be devastating.

For example, many smart home devices like Nest Learning Thermostat devices come with a default username and password that most consumers don’t think to change. In some cases, that’s simply not an option, as passwords are sometimes hardcoded into the firmware. Oftentimes, hackers can easily find default login information online and sneak onto your device. Then, with the help of a little malware, they can gain control of your entire fleet of smart-home devices. And hundreds of other people’s.

Patches and updates are another gaping door left open to hackers. Many IoT devices either simply can’t be patched to protect against the latest threats, or their manufacturers don’t have the budget or resolution to release prompt updates. In an up-and-coming market segment filled with startups, there isn’t even a guarantee your device manufacturer will be around to release a much-needed security update when an emergent threat comes knocking.

Secure is the new smart

Before you run home and to rip your Nest or other IoT connected device off the wall, read on. There are ways to keep your home smart and secure.

“Smart homes are still a new space as far as security goes,” says Moffit. “Down the road, we expect security to be protecting internet connected devices. But for now, we recommend a layered approach and taking all the proper precautions. Similar to antivirus, pay for the well-reviewed, vetted products.”

Here are a few more tips for being a smart IoT consumer:

Update login info

Update your usernames and passwords (the stronger the better). Do this for every device you have, and avoid using the same password twice. While you’re at it, change the passwords on your other accounts, too — especially if you’ve had the same one since you opened your first email account in 1998.

Secure wireless networks

Set up two different networks to help reduce the risk of hacking across devices — one for smartphones, computers, and tablets, and another for your smart home products. Add a strong password and give your home network a random name having nothing to do with your username, password, or address. Also, make sure your home network is protected by the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol, disable guest access, and most importantly, disable remote access. 

Update software and firmware

Updating helps ensure the latest security measures are being implemented by your device. Many smart home devices don’t update automatically, so check for them about once a month.

Install security software and malware protection

Because there is no singular solution for protecting your smart home products themselves, it’s important to use a layered approach for your security measures. Safeguarding your network, for example. Adding security apps and software to your computer and smartphone can protect against attackers accessing information via a malicious site or app.

Invest in proven solutions

Since so many companies are trying to get on the smart home train and many aren’t keeping security top-of-mind, it’s important to invest in proven solutions and stick to well-known brands that have a reputation for being secure. This helps guard against the aforementioned problem of timely updates not being available, too.

Oh, and you know those home gadgets that come with a hard-coded password? Don’t buy them.

Malvertising: Avoid Bad Ad Invasion

Reading Time: ~3 min.

The way people shop has changed drastically over the last 10 years. E-commerce continues to boom. In fact, 80% of Americans made an online purchase in the past month, according to the Omni-Channel Retail Report from BigEcommerce. Because what’s not to love about shopping online, receiving your items in just two days, and not having to put pants on?

Not surprisingly, the increase in online shopping has been accompanied by a spike in online advertisements. And in recent years, thanks to malvertising, things like display ads and social media promotions have gone from annoying to dangerous.

A Threatening Combination

The term malvertising is a merger of two words, malicious and advertising. It is defined as the use of online advertising as a vehicle to spread malware.

Malverts are created when cyber criminals embed malware-laden or malicious code into normal-looking online ads like pop-ups (fake browser updates, anti-virus programs, etc.), paid ads using Google AdWords, display ads, drive-by downloads, in-text or in-content advertising, and more.

These ads are then placed on the pages of legitimate websites — such as The New York Times, the BBC, MSN, and AOL, to name a few—by an agency or an automated ad server. Infections are then very difficult to avoid when you visit a site running malverts. In fact, users don’t even have to click on anything to have their device compromised. Sometimes, all it takes is loading the page.

Online Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

To understand how malvertising sneaks onto sites, you first have to understand how online ads are placed. Many large, popular websites use third-party vendors or software called an ad server to find the ad that will make the site the most money. To get an ad on a vendor’s network, oftentimes all you need to do is sign up and submit. Because of this, many cybercriminals will submit clean advertising to ad networks for weeks to gain legitimacy and circulation, and ultimately get their work through the system. Once they do, they quickly switch out their ads for malverts. These booby-trapped ads are usually only active for a few hours before the attackers switch back to legitimate ones.

Since ad servers typically don’t have strict vetting processes or are automated, it’s relatively easy for attackers to slip malverts through without anyone knowing. In fact, the cyber security firm Confiant reported that some attackers, like the Zirconium group, set up 28 fake ad agencies in 2017 through which to create and submit their malverts.

What’s more, these third-party networks often display different ads on the same page, meaning two people could visit the site and only one would be infected — again making malverts even harder to track down and stop.

Defend your devices from malvertising

Even though large, sophisticated malware campaigns were mounted in 2017, there are #cybersmart ways to protect yourself against an attack in the year to come:

  • Use an ad-blocker. Ad-blockers remove all online advertising, significantly reducing malvertising’s effects on the user. There have been cases of sophisticated malverts bypassing ad-blockers, but using one is still a great place to start.
  • Keep your devices updated and secure. Make sure your operating system and plugins are updated, keep software patched, only run the latest browsers, and invest in a good anti-virus or malware detection program.
  • Lock down your Java and Flash settings. Enable click-to-play plugin settings on your browser configuration for Java and Flash, which makes you give your device permission before running those plugins. Or disable Java and Flash altogether. You probably won’t miss them.
  • Stay on top of WordPress. WordPress continues to be one of the most popular targets for hackers. The plugins have been exploited and abused the same way as Adobe, Flash, Java, and Silverlight have. If you use WordPress, protect yourself by keeping your website up to date, updating themes and plugins to the patched versions, and staying aware of the latest WordPress-related vulnerabilities.
  • Practice safe browsing. Since malvertising can affect you even if you’re staying on legitimate sites (i.e. not trying to buy a kidney on the darknet), using safe browsing practices can greatly decrease your risk. Set up browser plugins to increase security and privacy, keep browsers and applications up-to-date, regularly check which plugins are being used and disable unnecessary ones, scan files before downloading, and watch out for phishing attacks.

And of course, using a reliable internet security product is the best way to protect yourself from cybercriminals. For extra credit, here are a few more general tips to protecting your devices.

  • Skip public WiFi networks
  • Pay with credit cards over debit cards online when possible
  • Deactivate Bluetooth in public settings
  • Always back up your files

Cyber News Rundown: Malware Attack Targets 2018 Winter Olympics

Reading Time: ~2 min.

The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cybersecurity news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any questions? Just ask.

Winter Olympics Disrupted by Malware Attack

The Winter Olympics are in full swing, and cybercriminals seem to be working just as hard as the athletes. Their nefarious minds are focused on distributing malware that targets several internal WiFi and television systems. In addition to a delay during the opening ceremonies, the malware caused major damage to the networks by wiping non-critical network files and using stolen credentials to traverse the networks with ease. With plenty of international information on hand, it’s surprising the attack focused more on destruction over data collection.

Cryptocurrency Scams from Celebrities on Twitter

At least two dozen fake Twitter accounts impersonating celebrities, and others closely tied to cryptocurrencies, have been promising to distribute various currencies to followers. These accounts are all very similar to the real celebrities’ user accounts, barring small spelling changes, and can be found commenting amongst their target’s posts. Although Twitter appears to be working swiftly to remove these types of accounts, more continue to appear.

News Site Offers Compromise to Disabling Ad-Blockers

With the increasing popularity of cryptojacking—the process of using cryptomining scripts on highly-trafficked sites to generate revenue—Salon.com is now offering a choice to visitors: disable your ad blocker or let them use your CPU for cryptomining. While this new offering may seem unusual, it’s likely to become more prevalent, since many sites depend on ad revenue to remain operational. The logic is that most users would prefer to allow mining scripts to run over being subjected to ads.

Telegram Leaves Zero-Day Bug Unfixed for Months

Researchers discovered a vulnerability within the Telegram messenger client that would allow attackers to send malware by using a specific character to mask the actual file without making any additional changes to it. This method can be used to fully commandeer a system by sending victims a simple downloader over SMS. The downloader deploys a variety of malicious tools onto the system itself. Telegram has since resolved documented issues, which appear to have targeted mainly Russian victims from as long ago as March 2017.

Canadian Telecom Firm Faces Security Flaw

A hacker has contacted Canadian Telecom firm Freedom Mobile to inform them of the security risks that their nearly 350,000 customers could face if a flaw in their system isn’t fixed. The flaw would allow any attacker to use a brute force attack on the account login page to compromise customer information. The hacker doesn’t appear to be acting maliciously, and he has posted proof of his findings, along with a strong recommendation that Freedom Mobile re-examine its security offerings.

Use Caution with Free-to-Play Mobile Games

Reading Time: ~2 min.

Who doesn’t like a good mobile game? Especially a free one! They allow you to blow off steam while fine-tuning your skills, competing with others or maybe even winning bragging rights among friends.

Free games can be fun to play, yet there are some common-sense guidelines to make sure these apps don’t surprise you with unexpected costs or other problems.

Like anything digital, opportunities for malware and other cyber threats do exist. Here are some things to beware of as you protect your privacy, well-being and wallet.

In-app purchases and unauthorized transactions

Free game providers make revenue by selling upgrades to the games’ cosmetic value or the means to advance to another level of play. For example, on a popular kids’ game, players can buy special coins that help boost their overall gaming experience.

But according to a 2017 Tech Crunch article, Amazon recently agreed to refund millions of these types of in-app purchases because they were technically unauthorized – made by children on mobile devices linked to its site. Much to the parents’ regret, these transactions did not require passwords.

Apple and Google have settled similar agreements with the Federal Trade Commission.

So, keep an eye on transactions, banking records and your kids as they play. Most mobile devices even have the option of disabling or PIN-protecting in-app purchases so the little ones aren’t able to make purchasing decisions on their own.

Little extras can add up to a big cost for mom or dad. Or, in a more malicious case, someone with bad intentions could be purposely adding unwanted charges to your credit card.

Malware and privacy threats

Free mobile apps typically feature advertising and, of course, users can pay a premium to turn that off. That’s another transaction-based upgrade that turns free into not-so-free.

However, beyond the clutter and interruptions caused by real ads, malware can deliver a darker spin on free-to-play games through fake ads.

The Economic Times reports that Google has removed nearly 60 games, many of which were aimed at children, from its Play Store. The games were found to be infected with malware and bogus ads.

The malware displayed images that looked like real advertisements, causing concern and prompting users to download fake security software. The users were then encouraged to click on other links that would require payment.

Along with encouraging users to download scareware and pay for premium services, the malware also stole personal information. Those types of sensitive, personal records could include passwords, device ID’s and credit card information.

And that can lead to identity theft and even larger financial threats.

So remember, only use trusted providers, read the reviews before installing the game and there’s never any need to allow extensive access to your device or personal information. You’re just playing free mobile game apps after all.

Free-to-Play mobile gaming security tips

Transaction-based issues and malicious malware are two of the most common concerns associated with free-to-play mobile games. But by no means do they make up a complete list of potential risk factors.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play free games online. But use caution. Scrutinize games labeled as free and realize that paying a reasonable price for software versus getting it for no charge is sometimes worth it.

Here are some more detailed security tips from US-CERT, the United States Government Computer Readiness Team:

  • Use antivirus software
  • Be cautious about opening web files
  • Verify download authenticity
  • Configure web browsers securely
  • Back up personal data
  • Use strong passwords
  • Update operating and application software

Just Keep Swimming: How to Avoid Phishing on Social Media

Reading Time: ~3 min.

From Facebook to LinkedIn, social media is flat-out rife with phishing attacks. You’ve probably encountered one before… Do fake Oakley sunglasses sales ring a bell?

Phishing attacks attempt to steal your most private information, posing major risks to your online safety. It’s more pressing than ever to have a trained eye to spot and avoid even the most cunning phishing attacks on social media.

Troubled waters

Spammers on social media are masters of their craft and their tactics are demonstrably more effective than their email-based counterparts. According to a report by ZeroFOXup to 66 percent of spear phishing attacks on social media sites are opened by their targets. This compares to a roughly 30 percent success rate of spear phishing emails, based on findings by Verizon.

Facebook has warned of cybercriminals targeting personal accounts in order to steal information that can be used to launch more effective spear phishing attacks. The social network is taking steps to protect users’ accounts from hostile data collection, including more customizable security and privacy features such as two-factor authentication. Facebook has also been more active in encouraging users to adopt these enhanced security features, as seen in the in-app message below.

Types of social phishing attacks

Fake customer support accounts

The rise of social media has changed the way customers seek support from brands, with many people turning to Twitter or Facebook over traditional customer support channels. Scammers are taking advantage of this by impersonating the support accounts of major brands such as Amazon, PayPal, and Samsung. This tactic, dubbed ‘angler phishing’ for its deepened deception, is rather prevalent. A 2016 study by Proofpoint found that 19% of social media accounts appearing to represent top brands were fake.

To avoid angler phishing, watch out for slight misspellings or variations in account handles. For example, the Twitter handle @Amazon_Help might be used to impersonate the real support account @AmazonHelp. Also, the blue checkmark badges next to account names on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram let you know those accounts are verified as being authentic.

Spambot comments

Trending content such as Facebook Live streams are often plagued with spammy comments from accounts that are typically part of an intricate botnet. These spam comments contain URLs that link to phishing sites that try to trick you into entering your personal information, such as a username and password to an online account.

It is best to avoid clicking any links on social media from accounts you are unfamiliar with or otherwise can’t trust. You can also take advantage of security software features such as real-time anti-phishing to automatically block fake sites if you accidently visit them.

Dangerous DMs

Yes, phishing happens within Direct Messages, too. This is often seen from the accounts of friends or family that might be compromised. Hacked social media accounts can be used to send phishing links through direct messages, gaming trust and familiarity to fool you. These phishing attacks trick you into visiting malicious websites or downloading file attachments.

For example, a friend’s Twitter account that has been compromised might send you a direct message with a fake link to connect with them on LinkedIn. This link could direct to a phishing site like the one below in order to trick you into giving up your LinkedIn login.

While this site may appear to look like the real LinkedIn sign-on page, the site URL in the browser address bar reveals it is indeed a fake phishing site. 

Phony promotions & contests 

Fraudsters are also known to impersonate brands on social media in order to advertise nonexistent promotions. Oftentimes, these phishing attacks will coerce victims into giving up their private information in order to redeem some type of discount or enter a contest. Know the common signs of these scams such as low follower counts, poor grammar and spelling, or a form asking you to give up personal information or make a purchase.

The best way to make sure you are interacting with a brand’s official page on social media is to navigate to their social pages directly from the company’s website. This way you can verify the account is legitimate and you can follow the page from there.

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