Category Archives: Frauds

Important things you need to know about phishing

Phishing is when an attacker misuses technology to trick someone into divulging sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords or credit card numbers. People often associate phishing with fraudulent email messages—think Nigerian prince scams—but
phishing also reaches victims through web pages, documents, text messages, social media content, instant messaging, advertisements, and even phone calls.
  •  A phishing website lives, on average, for 15 hours. Cybercriminals take phishing websites down quickly so authorities can’t track them down.
  • Attackers use safe websites to hide their phishing websites to keep their operations going.
  • In 2016, cyber security researchers have found over 400,000 phishing websites each month! That’s almost 5 million phishing websites in a year!
  • Cybercriminals impersonated Google, PayPal, Yahoo and Apple the most this year, using them to manipulate users and trick them into revealing their confidential information.
Despite its humble beginnings, phishing has come a long way
since those first crudely constructed phishing emails. The
following are the most important findings from this report:
Strengthening an organization’s anti-phishing strategy means
moving beyond old techniques that use static phishing
domain or URL lists to highly automated technologies based
on sophisticated machine learning methods. These more
advanced technologies can quickly check the characteristics
and metadata for each requested webpage to look for signs of
phishing, then report a score or rating that the organization can
use to make automated decisions about allowing or denying
access to the page. When phishing sites can appear and
disappear in the length of a coffee break, highly automated
machine learning solutions are the only way to prevent
successful phishing attacks and the major data breaches they
facilitate.

‘Tis the season for stopping robocalls


Nothing puts a damper on the holidays like unwanted calls interrupting your day.

Maybe you’ve gotten one — you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person. Internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal sales robocalls from anywhere in the world.

Fortunately, you have some options to block robocalls and other unwanted calls. Some are free and others cost money.

  • Check with your carrier about call-blocking services. Many carriers now offer services that block unwanted calls for wireless phones and for some types of home phones, too.
  • Try a call-blocking app. These apps use blacklists to weed out or flag unwanted calls and give you options about how to handle the calls — ringing through with a warning, going straight to voicemail, or blocking the call altogether. Many apps also let you flag additional numbers that should have been blocked, which helps improve the app. Some apps even use complaints to the FTC as a source of information.
  • Use features built into your mobile phone. These features can let consumers block specific contacts, identify unwanted incoming calls for future blocking, and set “do not disturb” hours.
  • Consider a call-blocking device for your home phone. Devices can be installed directly on a home phone.

During the last few years, the FTC has stopped billions of robocalls that offer everything from fraudulent credit card services to so-called auto warranty protection. We recently announced a case against a company offering allegedly bogus credit card interest rate reduction services.

If you get a robocall, hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it could lead to more robocalls.

Reference

Ransomware can now encrypt your smart TV too

Ransomware keep evolving and can now encrypt smart TVs.

According to the software developer, when he first contacted LG’s tech support, he was told that a technician would have to come over and take a look for a fee of around $340.

The ransom amount itself was $500 although even paying that would have been difficult because there was no way to click on the payment section to find the instructions on how to do so. The only thing that worked was just moving a mouse-like pointer on a portion of the TV screen via an accompanying smart remote.

In order to keep your smart TV safe, avoid downloading strange apps (even if they are in the Google Play store), keep your software up to date and protect your home Wi-fi.

Top 10 Tips To Stay Safe Online


With hacks, scams, malware and more, the Internet can feel like a dangerous place these days. And, the recent proliferation of devices, from smartphones and tablets to Internet-connected appliances, has opened us up to even greater risks.

But the good news is that by taking just a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Create Complex Passwords. We know you’ve heard it before, but creating strong, unique passwords for all your critical accounts really is the best way to keep your personal and financial information safe. This is especially true in the era of widespread corporate hacks, where one database breach can reveal tens of thousands of user passwords. If you reuse your passwords, a hacker can take the leaked data from one attack and use it to login to your other accounts. Our best advice: use a password manager to help you store and create strong passwords for all of your accounts.

Then, check to see if your online accounts offer multi-factor authentication. This is when multiple pieces of information are required to verify your identity. So, to log into an account you may need to enter a code that is sent to your phone, as well as your password and passphrase.

2. Boost Your Network Security. Now that your logins are safer, make sure that your connections are secure. When at home or work, you probably use a password-protected router that encrypts your data. But, when you’re on the road, you might be tempted to use free, public Wi-Fi.The problem with public Wi-Fi is that it is often unsecured. This means it’s relatively easy for a hacker to access your device or information. That’s why you should consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a piece of software that creates a secure connection over the internet, so you can safely connect from anywhere.

3. Use a Firewall. Even if your network is secure, you should still use a firewall. This an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your computers and devices, and is often included with comprehensive security software. Using a firewall ensures that all of the devices connected to your network are secured, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart thermostats and webcams. This is important since many IoT devices aren’t equipped with security measures, giving hackers a vulnerable point of entry to your entire network.

4. Click Smart. Now that you’ve put smart tech measures into place, make sure that you don’t invite danger with careless clicking. Many of today’s online threats are based on phishing or social engineering. This is when you are tricked into revealing personal or sensitive information for fraudulent purposes. Spam emails, phony “free” offers, click bait, online quizzes and more all use these tactics to entice you to click on dangerous links or give up your personal information. Always be wary of offers that sound too good to be true, or ask for too much information.

5. Be a Selective Sharer. These days, there are a lot of opportunities to share our personal information online. Just be cautious about what you share, particularly when it comes to your identity information. This can potentially be used to impersonate you, or guess your passwords and logins.

6. Protect Your Mobile Life. Our mobile devices can be just as vulnerable to online threats as our laptops. In fact, mobile devices face new risks, such as risky apps and dangerous links sent by text message. Be careful where you click, don’t respond to messages from strangers, and only download apps from official app stores after reading other users’ reviews first. Make sure that your security software is enabled on your mobile, just like your computers and other devices.

7. Practice Safe Surfing & Shopping. When shopping online, or visiting websites for online banking or other sensitive transactions, always make sure that the site’s address starts with “https”, instead of just “http”, and has a padlock icon in the URL field. This indicates that the website is secure and uses encryption to scramble your data so it can’t be intercepted by others. Also, be on the lookout for websites that have misspellings or bad grammar in their addresses. They could be copycats of legitimate websites. Use a safe search tool such as McAfee SiteAdvisor to steer clear of risky sites.

8. Keep up to date. Keep all your software updated so you have the latest security patches. Turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it, and make sure that your security software is set to run regular scans.

9. Lookout for the latest scams. Online threats are evolving all the time, so make sure you know what to look out for. Currently, ransomwareis on the rise. This is when a hacker threatens to lock you out of all of your files unless you agree to pay a ransom. Stay on top of this and other threats by staying informed.

10. Keep your guard up. Always be cautious about what you do online, which sites you visit, and what you share. Use comprehensive security software, and make sure to backup your data on a regular basis in case something goes wrong. By taking preventative measures, you can save yourself from headaches later on.

Reference

Beware of fake delivery notifications (emails)

Cybercriminals have been using fake delivery notification emails to spread malware for many years now. In spite of their history and frequency, this attack tactic still works.

Some of the reasons include lack of proper security measures taken by the companies you purchase things from, but also emotions clouding people’s judgement when prompted by such an alert.

[why%20so%20many%20people%20fall%20for%20the%20fake%20delivery%20notifications?]You can see an example here and read the words of an experienced malware researcher on the topic.

Be very, very careful when receiving and reviewing delivery notifications, as they’re very effective for spreading the worst kind of malware, including financial malware and ransomware.

FBI Warns of Dramatic Increase in Business E-Mail Scams


FBI officials are warning potential victims of a dramatic rise in the business e-mail compromise scam or “B.E.C.,” a scheme that targets businesses and has resulted in massive financial losses in Phoenix and other cities.

The schemers go to great lengths to spoof company e-mail or use social engineering to assume the identity of the CEO, a company attorney, or trusted vendor. They research employees who manage money and use language specific to the company they are targeting, then they request a wire fraud transfer using dollar amounts that lend legitimacy.

There are various versions of the scams. Victims range from large corporations to tech companies to small businesses to non-profit organizations. Many times, the fraud targets businesses that work with foreign suppliers or regularly perform wire transfer payments.

  • Law enforcement globally has received complaints from victims in every U.S. state and in at least 79 countries.
  • From October 2013 through February 2016, law enforcement received reports from 17,642 victims.
  • This amounted to more than $2.3 billion in losses.
  • Since January 2015, the FBI has seen a 270 percent increase in identified victims and exposed loss.
  • In Arizona the average loss per scam is between $25,000 and $75,000.

If your company has been victimized by a BEC scam:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately
  • Request that they contact the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent
  • File a complaint—regardless of dollar loss—with the IC3.

Tips for Businesses:

  • Be wary of e-mail-only wire transfer requests and requests involving urgency
  • Pick up the phone and verify legitimate business partners.
  • Be cautious of mimicked e-mail addresses
  • Practice multi-level authentication.

Resources:

Recognizing and Avoiding Spyware

What is spyware?

Despite its name, the term “spyware” doesn’t refer to something used by undercover operatives, but rather by the advertising industry. In fact, spyware is also known as “adware.” It refers to a category of software that, when installed on your computer, may send you pop-up ads, redirect your browser to certain web sites, or monitor the web sites that you visit. Some extreme, invasive versions of spyware may track exactly what keys you type. Attackers may also use spyware for malicious purposes.

Because of the extra processing, spyware may cause your computer to become slow or sluggish. There are also privacy implications:

  • What information is being gathered?
  • Who is receiving it?
  • How is it being used?

How do you know if there is spyware on your computer?

The following symptoms may indicate that spyware is installed on your computer:

  • you are subjected to endless pop-up windows
  • you are redirected to web sites other than the one you typed into your browser
  • new, unexpected toolbars appear in your web browser
  • new, unexpected icons appear in the task tray at the bottom of your screen
  • your browser’s home page suddenly changed
  • the search engine your browser opens when you click “search” has been changed
  • certain keys fail to work in your browser (e.g., the tab key doesn’t work when you are moving to the next field within a form)
  • random Windows error messages begin to appear
  • your computer suddenly seems very slow when opening programs or processing tasks (saving files, etc.)

How can you prevent spyware from installing on your computer?

To avoid unintentionally installing it yourself, follow these good security practices:

  • Don’t click on links within pop-up windows – Because pop-up windows are often a product of spyware, clicking on the window may install spyware software on your computer. To close the pop-up window, click on the “X” icon in the titlebar instead of a “close” link within the window.
  • Choose “no” when asked unexpected questions – Be wary of unexpected dialog boxes asking whether you want to run a particular program or perform another type of task. Always select “no” or “cancel,” or close the dialog box by clicking the “X” icon in the titlebar.
  • Be wary of free downloadable software – There are many sites that offer customized toolbars or other features that appeal to users. Don’t download programs from sites you don’t trust, and realize that you may be exposing your computer to spyware by downloading some of these programs.
  • Don’t follow email links claiming to offer anti-spyware software – Like email viruses, the links may serve the opposite purpose and actually install the spyware it claims to be eliminating.

As an additional good security practice, especially if you are concerned that you might have spyware on your machine and want to minimize the impact, consider taking the following action:

  • Adjust your browser preferences to limit pop-up windows and cookies – Pop-up windows are often generated by some kind of scripting or active content. Adjusting the settings within your browser to reduce or prevent scripting or active content may reduce the number of pop-up windows that appear. Some browsers offer a specific option to block or limit pop-up windows. Certain types of cookies are sometimes considered spyware because they reveal what web pages you have visited.

How do you remove spyware?

  • Run a full scan on your computer with your anti-virus software – Some anti-virus software will find and remove spyware, but it may not find the spyware when it is monitoring your computer in real time. Set your anti-virus software to prompt you to run a full scan periodically
  • Run a legitimate product specifically designed to remove spyware – Many vendors offer products that will scan your computer for spyware and remove any spyware software. Popular products include Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware, Microsoft’s Window Defender, Webroot’s SpySweeper, and Spybot Search and Destroy.
  • Make sure that your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are compatible – Take a phased approach to installing the software to ensure that you don’t unintentionally introduce problems

“Locky” ransomware – what you need to know

The rise of ransomware is one of the biggest cybersecurity trends of the past few years, and out of all the variations out there, Locky is the most widespread one.

It is technologically impossible to decrypt, so once you get hit you either abandon the files or pay up the ransom to get them back.

“Locky” feels like quite a cheery-sounding name.

But it’s also the nickname of a new strain of ransomware, so-called because it renames all your important files so that they have the extension .locky.

Of course, it doesn’t just rename your files, it scrambles them first, and – as you probably know about ransomware – only the crooks have the decryption key.

The most common way that Locky arrives is as follows:

  • You receive an email containing an attached document (Troj/DocDl-BCF).
  • The document looks like gobbledegook.
  • The document advises you to enable macros “if the data encoding is incorrect.”

  • If you enable macros, you don’t actually correct the text encoding (that’s a subterfuge); instead, you run code inside the document that saves a file to disk and runs it.
  • The saved file (Troj/Ransom-CGX) serves as a downloader, which fetches the final malware payload from the crooks.
  • The final payload could be anything, but in this case is usually the Locky Ransomware (Troj/Ransom-CGW).

Locky scrambles all files that match a long list of extensions, including videos, images, source code, and Office files.

Locky even scrambles wallet.dat, your Bitcoin wallet file, if you have one.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-site. There are dozens of ways other than ransomware that files can suddenly vanish, such as fire, flood, theft, a dropped laptop or even an accidental delete. Encrypt your backup and you won’t have to worry about the backup device falling into the wrong hands.
  • Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email. Microsoft deliberately turned off auto-execution of macros by default many years ago as a security measure. A lot of malware infections rely on persuading you to turn macros back on, so don’t do it!
  • Be cautious about unsolicited attachments. The crooks are relying on the dilemma that you shouldn’t open a document until you are sure it’s one you want, but you can’t tell if it’s one you want until you open it. If in doubt, leave it out.
  • Don’t give yourself more login power than you need. Most importantly, don’t stay logged in as an administrator any longer than is strictly necessary, and avoid browsing, opening documents or other “regular work” activities while you have administrator rights.
  • Consider installing the Microsoft Office viewers. These viewer applications let you see what documents look like without opening them in Word or Excel itself. In particular, the viewer software doesn’t support macros at all, so you can’t enable macros by mistake!
  • Patch early, patch often. Malware that doesn’t come in via document macros often relies on security bugs in popular applications, including Office, your browser, Flash and more. The sooner you patch, the fewer open holes remain for the crooks to exploit.

Source/Reference

Top Ten: The Most Important Cyber Security Tips for all Users

  1. Realize that you are an attractive target to hackers. Don’t ever say “It won’t happen to me.”

  2. Practice good password management. Use a strong mix of characters, and don’t use the same password for multiple sites. Don’t share your password with others, don’t write it down, and definitely don’t write it on a post-it note attached to your monitor.

  3. Never leave your devices unattended. If you need to leave your computer, phone, or tablet for any length of time—no matter how short—lock it up so no one can use it while you’re gone. If you keep sensitive information on a flash drive or external hard drive, make sure to lock it up as well.

  4. Always be careful when clicking on attachments or links in email. If it’s unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it. Double check the URL of the website the link takes you to: bad actors will often take advantage of spelling mistakes to direct you to a harmful domain. Think you can spot a phony website?

  5. Sensitive browsing, such as banking or shopping, should only be done on a device that belongs to you, on a network that you trust. Whether it’s a friend’s phone, a public computer, or a cafe’s free WiFi—your data could be copied or stolen.

  6. Back up your data regularly, and make sure your anti-virus software is always up to date.

  7. Be conscientious of what you plug in to your computer. Malware can be spread through infected flash drives, external hard drives, and even smartphones.

  8. Watch what you’re sharing on social networks. Criminals can befriend you and easily gain access to a shocking amount of information—where you go to school, where you work, when you’re on vacation—that could help them gain access to more valuable data.

  9. Offline, be wary of social engineering, where someone attempts to gain information from you through manipulation. If someone calls or emails you asking for sensitive information, it’s okay to say no. You can always call the company directly to verify credentials before giving out any information.

  10. Be sure to monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. If you see something unfamiliar, it could be a sign that you’ve been compromised.

Reference

Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks

Author US-CERT Publications

Do not give sensitive information to others unless you are sure that they are indeed who they claim to be and that they should have access to the information.

What is a social engineering attack?

In a social engineering attack, an attacker uses human interaction (social skills) to obtain or compromise information about an organization or its computer systems. An attacker may seem unassuming and respectable, possibly claiming to be a new employee, repair person, or researcher and even offering credentials to support that identity. However, by asking questions, he or she may be able to piece together enough information to infiltrate an organization’s network. If an attacker is not able to gather enough information from one source, he or she may contact another source within the same organization and rely on the information from the first source to add to his or her credibility.

What is a phishing attack?

Phishing is a form of social engineering. Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to solicit personal information by posing as a trustworthy organization. For example, an attacker may send email seemingly from a reputable credit card company or financial institution that requests account information, often suggesting that there is a problem. When users respond with the requested information, attackers can use it to gain access to the accounts.

Phishing attacks may also appear to come from other types of organizations, such as charities. Attackers often take advantage of current events and certain times of the year, such as

  • natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane Katrina, Indonesian tsunami)
  • epidemics and health scares (e.g., H1N1)
  • economic concerns (e.g., IRS scams)
  • major political elections
  • holidays

How do you avoid being a victim?

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
  • Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information.
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
  • Don’t send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website’s security.
  • Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
  • If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information. Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
  • Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic.
  • Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.

What do you do if you think you are a victim?

  • If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
  • If you believe your financial accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close any accounts that may have been compromised. Watch for any unexplainable charges to your account.
  • Immediately change any passwords you might have revealed. If you used the same password for multiple resources, make sure to change it for each account, and do not use that password in the future.
  • Watch for other signs of identity theft.
  • Consider reporting the attack to the police, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

Source