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Unexpected Side Effects: How COVID-19 Affected our Click Habits

Phishing has been around for ages and continues to be one of the most common threats that businesses and home users face today. But it’s not like we haven’t all been hearing about the dangers of phishing for years. So why do people still click? That’s what we wanted...

Key Considerations When Selecting a Web Classification Vendor

Since launching our web classification service in 2006, we’ve seen tremendous interest in our threat and web classification services, along with an evolution of the types and sizes of cybersecurity vendors and service providers looking to integrate this type of...

4 Ways MSPs Can Fine-Tune Their Cybersecurity Go-To-Market Strategy

Today’s work-from-home environment has created an abundance of opportunities for offering new cybersecurity services in addition to your existing business. With cyberattacks increasing in frequency and sophistication, business owners and managers need protection now...

Ransomware: The Bread and Butter of Cybercriminals

Imagine a thief walks into your home and rummages through your personal belongings. But instead of stealing them, he locks all your valuables into a safe and forces you to pay a ransom for the key to unlock the safe. What choice do you have? Substitute your digital...

8 Tips to Stay Safe Online

Reading Time: ~ 4 min.

Yesterday, the New York Times published an exclusive story on what many are stating to be the largest series of hacks ever, all revealed by Hold Security in their latest report. With a report of over 1.2 billion unique username-password combinations and over 500 million e-mail addressed amassed by a Russian hacker group dubbed CyberVol (vol is Russian for thief). While the reactions among the security industry are mixed, with some researchers raising a few questions of the masterwork behind the hack, the story does bring to the public’s attention the necessity of strong, personal, online security policies for all aspects of the connected life.

As our researchers have shown in the past, gathering a collection of username and passwords can be easier than many think, with many scraping programs being sold on the deep-web market to the highest bidders. And while some companies, including Hold Security, are offering paid solutions to help detect and monitor if their accounts have been breached, this does not change the fact that the first layer of security begins at the user.

8 tips to help you stay safe and secure on the internet

  1. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.Two-factor authentication adds another layer of security when logging into a website, be it e-mail, banking, or other websites.  Some websites, such as Google, will text you a code when you login to verify your identity, while others have small devices that you can carry around to generate the code.  Authenticator apps are also available on all major smartphone platforms. Other types of two-factor authentication do exist as well, so look in the settings of your banking, shopping, and e-mail hosts for the option.
  2. Signup for login notifications. This security layer is often used in place of two-factor authentication, including by websites such as Facebook.  If your account is accessed from an unfamiliar location, a notification is sent via e-mail, app, or text-message to the account holder.  This is a great layer of security that offers you on-the-go protection.  This feature, if offered, can usually be found in the security settings of the website, such as banking and social media, you are accessing.
  3. Use a secure password. We have all signed up for some website with a basic password, thinking there is no way that someone would want to hack our account.  But that may not be the case.  Setting an easy password on one website often leads to that password being used across many websites.  The easier you make it for a thief to brute-force access your account, the more likely you are to have your other accounts hacked.  By establishing a mixture of characters, numbers, and letters into a password, recommended to be 10 characters or more, you add a high level of difficulty for any brute-force password theft. Password managers like the one included in our Internet Security Plus and Complete antivirus programs can help make managing this easier.
  4. Change your passwords regularly. There is a reason your office requires regular password changes for your e-mail.  Even if your password is compromised, by changing it regularly across all your accounts, you remove the chance of your account being accessed. A pro-tip would be to set a reminder for every 90 days on your calendar with a link to all your accounts settings pages. It makes it easiest to click through and make the changes regularly.
  5. Only access your accounts from secure locations. It might only be 30 seconds of access to your bank account on that free WiFi at the coffee shop, but if the network has been compromised, that is more than enough time to collect all the data needed for a thief. While the convenience factor is there, if you must access the accounts, you might want to look into a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to ensure an encrypted connection to your home or work network.
  6. HTTPS access. In most browsers and information heavy websites, there is a way to force a HTTPS connection when available. This connection adds another level of encrypted security when logging in, making it even more difficult for data thieves to gather your information when logging in. To check if you are on a HTTPS connection, look for a padlock in the URL bar in the browser or check the URL itself for it to begin with HTTPS.
  7. Increase junk filtering and avoid clicking through on e-mails. You just received an e-mail letting you know that you have a new deposit pending and need to login and verify. Many phishing schemes start with something looking very innocent and official, but lead unassuming users to websites designed to collect the information direct from you. If you receive an e-mail from one of the account-holding websites, open a new tab and go direct to the website instead of clicking the links provided. It adds only a few seconds to the access, but keeps you out of any legit-looking phishing websites. Most legitimate services will never ask you for your login credentials, so make sure to avoid giving out this information. By increasing your level of junk filtering with your e-mail client as well, many of these e-mails will be caught before making it to your inbox.
  8. Use an up-to-date security program. Ensure you have the most up-to-date version and have the correct security settings enabled. Security AV programs are designed to keep the malicious files such as keyloggers and data-miners off your computer and the user protected. This direct layer of security ensures your devices, from phones to tablets to computers, are all protected when you are downloading and accessing files. Note that some programs, such as Webroot SecureAnywhere, are always up-to-date and require no further action from the user.

While the threats to online accounts are out there, the tips to staying safe can help you stay protected and utilize features often already available by the companies and their websites, and most without costing you additional money. These internet safety tips should help ensure your security online while still providing the convenience online access offers.

Helpful links:

A Look at PC Gamer Security

Reading Time: ~ 2 min.
Gamer Infographic

In the new study on security and PC gamers, Webroot found that many gamers sacrifice their protection to maximize system performance and leave themselves vulnerable to phishing attacks and gaming-focused malware. The study also provides tips for protecting gaming credentials and safeguarding against phishing attacks.

Webroot PC Gamer Security Study Findings:

  • 47% experienced an online attack with 55% of the attacks impacting system performance.
  • 35% of PC gamers choose not to use security or rely on free clean-up tools.
  • “Does not slow down system performance” ranked among the most important security program characteristic to gamers and Webroot has the first antivirus for PC gamers without system impact.
  • Trojans, Phishing, and Rootkits ranked as the top attacks against PC gamers.
  • The top source for information about Internet security were from forums and fellow gamers.

The survey was conducted during E3 2014 and was based on the responses gathered from over 1,200 PC gamers. The conclusion was that one third of PC gamers do not use a security program while gaming, although 47% have experienced a malware or phishing attack.

“We understand the high expectations that gamers have of their systems, and the frustration they have had with traditional antivirus programs. But the desire for performance can’t be at the expense of protection – there’s too much to lose,” said Mike Malloy, executive vice president of products and strategy at Webroot. “We believe by following some basic best practices and using a cloud-based security program that is very light on system resources, such as Webroot SecureAnywhere Gamer Edition, PC users don’t have to choose between performance and protection.”

Running a gaming system without traditional antivirus security can improve gameplay performance, but it leaves gamers vulnerable to identity theft and online attacks that can jeopardize both their real and in-game lives. This is why Webroot created the first cloud-based antivirus for PC gamers and developed a list of tips for staying safe online.

Tips for Gaming Securely:

  • Use browser-based URL filtering.
  • Deploy anti-phishing detection.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi and use a cloud-based anti-malware program.

To read the full press release, please click here.

If you’d like to view or download the infographic on the report, you can do so by clicking here.

Successful Launch of Webroot for Gamer at E3

Reading Time: ~ 2 min.photo 4Webroot, the market leader in cloud-based, real-time Internet threat detection, recently returned from the 18th annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short, hosted by the Entertainment Software Association.  Used by many of the video game manufacturers across the various platforms, as well as hardware and software developers, the trade show is used to show off the next generation of games-related products.  Hosted at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the 2014 conference had over 50,000 reported attendees between June 9th and 12th, 2014.

With this being Webroot’s first appearance at E3, the company was on site to show off Webroot’s new gaming specific antivirus, SecureAnywhere™ AntiVirus for PC Gamers.  Designed to keep users protected with maximum performance and protection, the newest protection offering for consumers garnered a large amount of interest from those in attendance, with a busy booth all day.  From the gamers themselves to the industry experts, many were impressed with the performance, speed, and direct gaming focus that Webroot was providing with the gamer protection product.

Along with the booth presence, Webroot’s team hosted an online campaign to drive awareness of the products with the #CyborgSelfie giveaway, a contest where entrants had to submit a selfie of themselves with the specific Twitter hashtag in hopes of winning a custom built Origin PC protected by Webroot.  With over 40,000 entries, the winner, Johnny Interiano, was drawn at random, and will soon have one of the most powerful Origin PC machines at their disposal for their next gaming conquests.  And to not pass an opportunity to work with Webroot’s newest partner Plantronics, twelve runner-up winners from the same contest won Plantronics RIG gaming headsets.

Through a strong awareness campaign and booth presence, all backed by an innovative security product designed specifically for gamers, Webroot’s presence at E3 was a major success for all that were involved.



How to avoid unwanted software

Reading Time: ~ 3 min.We’ve all seen it; maybe it’s on your own computer, or that of a friend, your spouse, child, or parent. Your home page has been changed to some search engine you’ve never heard of, there’s a new, annoying toolbar in your browser. Maybe you’re getting popup ads or have a rogue security product claiming you’re infected and asking you to buy the program to remove the infection. Even worse, you don’t know how it got there! Welcome to the world of Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs.) Chances are that these programs were inadvertently installed while installing software from sites that use “download managers” that add additional software to otherwise free downloads.

Many of these “download managers” and the additional applications they install use a Pay Per Install business model that is often used by unscrupulous individuals that use various techniques to trick you into clicking on their sites rather than the official download site for the software you’re attempting to download. These techniques include using advertisements on search engines and various Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to get their sites to show up before the official downloads in search results. We’ve even seen fake image upload sites whose sole purpose is to direct you to a page that looks like an official download page for a program but uses one of these “download managers” instead.

So how do you avoid these “download managers?” It’s actually pretty simple. Whenever possible, download software from the software company’s official page (this is not always possible since some software is only available through third-party download sites.) As mentioned earlier, some of the most popular techniques to get you to install software using these “download managers” is through ads and SEO techniques on search engines, so we’ll show you how to locate the official download links in search results from Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

For this example we’ll search for the popular voice and video chat program Skype by searching for “download Skype.”

With Google it is rather easy to spot the official download link since the advertisements are clearly marked, and the first actual result is the official download link:



Let’s have a look at Bing next. Since both Skype and Bing are Microsoft products, the first two search results are for the official download links:



For a better example of Bing results, let’s search for Adobe Reader by searching for “download adobe acrobat reader.” This one is also pretty easy to spot since the ads are clearly marked.



Now let’s have a look at the results for “download Skype” on Yahoo. Once again, the ads are clearly marked and the first actual result is the official download link.



Looking at these search results, you’ll notice a few things in common: The top results are all ads, and none of the ads point to the official download links, and the first actual link that is not an advertisement is the official download link. While this will not always be the case, it is common, and fortunately the three search engines we used in this example all do a very good job at identifying their advertisements. Does this mean that all ads are bad? Of course not! But when looking to download free software, the ads may not be your best choice. Also pay attention to the URLs, the official downloads are all on “skype.com” domains, while all the adds point to other domains.

Now you should have a better understanding of how some of those unwanted toolbars and search pages ended up on your computer, that clicking on the top result on a search page may not be the best way to go about downloading free software, and how to find the official download links for software on some of the most popular search engines. Pass this information onto others, and maybe you’ll save yourself a trip to a friend or family member’s house to remove an unwanted toolbar.

Phishing For Bank Account Information

Reading Time: ~ 2 min.

When you’re a threat researcher, you are always on the look out for anything that looks ‘phishy’, even if it’s on your own personal time. Today, I opened my personal email to find this:

Although the email looked very convincing, I don’t bank with Smile Bank so I knew something was up. Smile Bank is an actual bank based in the UK. The bad guys used a spoofed email address to make it look like it came from the legit Smile Bank domain smile.co.uk. If someone did bank with Smile Bank, I can see how they could easily be tricked. It’s the “Click here to proceed” link that gives the bad guys away. The link goes to a page hosted by pier3.hk, which is a legitimate domain, but appears to be compromised with a simple HTM page that is a redirect to the real malicious site. The redirect sends you here:

Once filled in and submitted, it then sends you here:

When this page is filled in and submitted, it sends you to the legitimate Smile Bank site:

In the background, I captured the network traffic to discovery all the input I entered being sent in plain text to the malicious URL:

In comparison, I went to Smile Bank’s real login screen. It was identical except for the fact it didn’t accept my nonsense for inputs:

This trick could easily be done with any large bank. Make sure to always be suspicious of any email claiming to be from your bank that threatens your account has been locked and insists that you need to enter your account information. Also, if the link to enter your account information isn’t to the URL of the bank it claims to be from, you know it’s malicious.

Beware of Malicious Olympic 2012 Android Apps

Reading Time: ~ 2 min.By Joe McManus

There are too many events happening at one time during the Olympics, which might tempt you to install an app for that. But be careful of what you install. Not all apps are what they appear to be. As an example let’s look at the app called “London Olympics Widget”.

More details:

read more…

8 Tips for Filing Taxes Online Safely

Reading Time: ~ 5 min.By Mike Kronenberg

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Getting ready to file your taxes online — and doing it at the last minute? Well, cyber-scammers are ready for you. Thieves are schemers, and they’ve got a bag full of tricks to steal your identity. You might even be doing things to make their job easier. And if you use a PC at work to do your return,  identity theft could be as simple as a crook (or an unscrupulous coworker) digging around and finding sensitive files.

One might send you an e-mail that offers a quick refund — or a warning about a problem with your already-filed tax return. Maybe they’ll pitch you with an expert’s review of your tax return, or helpfully offer advice, asking for all the sensitive financial details you’d normally put on your return so they can “look up your account.”

Here are eight tips to stay one step ahead of these virtual pickpockets and protect yourself.

read more…

Gamers: Fight the Phishers

Reading Time: ~ 5 min.

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20090616-gamephish2-selltous_cropLast week, I posted a blog item that explained how gamers face a growing security threat in phishing Trojans — software that can steal the passwords to online games, or the license keys for offline games, and pass them along to far-flung criminal groups. We know why organized Internet criminals engage in these kinds of activities, because the reason is always the same: There’s a great potential for financial rewards, with very little personal risk.

So I thought I’d wrap up this discussion with some analysis of how the bad guys monetize their stolen stuff. After all, how do you fence stolen virtual goods? And knowing that, is there a way to put the kibosh on game account pickpockets?
read more…

5 PC Gaming Threats and How To Beat Them

Reading Time: ~ 4 min.By Mike Kronenberg

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WoW keyloggerE3, the annual trade show for the computer and video games industry, kicked off in Los Angeles yesterday, not long after the unofficial start of summer on Memorial Day. These events got me thinking about what many students might do with their free time over the next three months. I imagine that for legions of young PC gamers, this could mean hour after blissful hour spent honing their skills as a blacksmith and earning gold in their favorite online fantasy universe. You can bet cybercriminals are imagining the same thing, too – and banking on it. 

In PC gaming, it used to be that hackers would seek to steal log-in information to take control of someone’s character for their own personal enjoyment. But they’ve figured out in-game currency translates into real-world money, and now many people log onto World of Warcraft or Lineage to find their account balances wiped to zero. 

To help keep hackers out — and hopefully make their summer a little less lucrative – I’ve outlined the most common tactics for infection during gaming and how gamers (of all ages) can avoid them. read more…