In today’s world of brand recognition, nothing is more important than your domain name. Whether you are Coca-Cola, ESPN or Freds Furniture, you need a web page that people can find just by typing the name of your business. What happens though when a consumer gets the name wrong? On-the-ball businesses buy the domain names for common misspellings of their name and redirect consumers with fat fingers to the correct web site. Those that don’t, leave consumers and their business exposed.
Criminals are buying up the misspelled domain names of popular web sites and loading them with malware. This practice is called typosquatting. It costs businesses millions in sales and untold grief for consumers. In the best case scenario, visiting one of these sites will result in your anti-virus going spastic with pop-ups and alerts. At the worst, malware too new for your anti-virus to recognize will be quietly and efficiently deposited onto your machine. Many of these web sites can only be visited once. A repeat visit results in a 404 web page not found error, making it difficult to shut the site down.
The easiest way to protect yourself from typosquatting is to use bookmarks to visit your favourite sites. When looking for new ones, read and re read the search terms you have entered and then read them again. Don’t let a slip of a finger deliver you into the hands of a hacker.
Legitimate websites are being infiltrated by hackers who inject malware that looks like a software update into the site’s code. The malware detects which browser you are using and displays an authentic looking update notification that matches. The malware is very stealthy as it only displays the fake update notification once. This has allowed it to avoid detection until now even though researchers believe it has been in place since at least December 2017.
How do you know the difference between a legitimate update notification or malware disguised as one? You don’t. The criminals are getting just that good. If you receive a notification that an application or browser needs updating:
- Close your application/browser.
- Reopen the application/browser.
- Go to your application/browser settings.
- Locate and select the Update command.
Note that the Update command is sometimes found with the About this application information instead of with the settings. Updating the application or browser within the application itself is the only safe way to ensure your application or browser is up to date.
Adguard has found 5 very popular ad-blocker Chrome extensions in the Google Webstore which contain malware that allows a criminal to take control of your browser.
- AdRemover for Google Chrome
- uBlock Plus
- Adblock Pro
- HD for YouTube
Google has removed the extensions. However if you have installed one of them:
- Uninstall it immediately.
- Change the passwords on all your accounts.
- Keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit card statements.
The malware these extensions contain work in the background making detection very difficult. As far as the user is concerned the extension is what it appears to be. For this reason millions of unsuspecting users downloaded them onto their machines.
How do you protect yourself from malignant browser extensions? Don’t download them. If you really, really need the extension make sure you know who the developer is. Stick to well known trusted developers that you recognize.
First things first, what is cryptocurrency? Cryptocurrency is digital currency. The most known is Bitcoin, however others are popping up such as Monero. How do they work? Well, I found a nifty little video that tells you the basics. It refers to bitcoin but the premise applies to all cryptocurrencies.
Neat huh? Notice the part where they say it takes lots of computing power and lots of electricity to mine? This is where things get interesting. Criminals have figured out that if they use the computing power of other machines, they can mine more cryptocurrency faster without having to invest in all the computing power or electricity themselves.
Why should you be concerned? More and more malware is mining cryptocurrency. The malware is often hidden on legitimate websites, applications or browser extensions. Why is this a problem? After all it is just using the processing power of my computer, its not actually doing any real harm is it? Well, no and yes. No it isn’t doing anything malicious like encrypting your hard drive or stealing your data. However, it is wearing out your machine and slowing it down. The more clever mining malware waits until you aren’t actually using your machine to mine. This reduces the chance you will notice that it is actually there, but still wears out the processor, eats up bandwidth and increases your electricity bill. Less clever creations, slow your computer down to a noticeable crawl.
Having millions of other peoples computers mining cryptocurrency for you can be quite lucrative. So much so that some websites have turned from using adware to generate revenue to asking users to lend their computing power. This is just fine if the user knows it happens and consents. It is another thing entirely when its done behind the scenes. Finding out your machine is being used for mining after the fact tends to leave you feeling like you need to take a shower. Its just not nice.
So what can you do about it? First of all, if your workstation seems slow contact the Service Desk. If it is your home machine, check the CPU processes to see if you have any spikes in usage. How do you prevent the mining in the first place? The mining software is considered to be malware, so the regular security measures that you take to protect yourself from malware will protect you from crypto mining. Make sure you:
Just like clockwork, the scammers have surfaced to take advantage of the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. The have created fake gofundme pages, fake facebook pages and fake charity sites all designed to tug on your heart strings and take your money. They are enticing you to visit these fake sites by sending texts and emails encouraging you to donate and help out the unfortunate victims.
At the very best clicking one of these links or visiting one of these websites will result in the donation going to the scammer. At the worst, your financial information can be compromised or malware can be loaded onto your computer.
If you wish to donate, be careful of the sites you visit. Use a google search or bookmark to find your favorite charity. Ignore facebook posts, texts and emails asking you to donate as they could be set up by scammers.
Want to donate, but you aren’t sure who is legitimate? Visit www.charitynavigator.org. This free website will let you know if a charity is legitimate or a scam. By being aware, you can make sure your money goes to the victims and not the criminals.
A new malvertising (malware masquerading as advertising) campaign is targeting popular adult websites in Canada and the UK. Unsuspecting visitors to these trusted sites are clicking on the webpages to view content. Unfortunately instead of being rewarded with juicy pics, they receive a pop-up advertisement loaded with malware. Normally the user’s anti-virus will detect the malware and block it from doing any damage. However, some of these nasty things are brand new and unknown to many types of anti-virus software so they are not detected and infect the user’s computer.
Adult websites receive millions of visitors every month and therefore are favorite targets of hackers. However, any site can be hijacked by a cyber criminal and used to deliver malvertising. How do you protect yourself from being a victim?
- Keep your anti-virus software up to date.
- Set your browser to block pop-ups.
Unfortunately, your browser cannot determine which pop-ups are malicious and which ones are delivering legitimate content. How do you know if you are missing out on content because a pop-up is being blocked? Your browser lets you know.
After you have set your browser to block pop-ups, when you visit a website that contains them your browser notifies you. At that point you can choose to allow pop-ups for that specific site or continue to block them. Do not allow pop-ups unless you are sure the content being delivered is not malicious. Happy surfing!!