BlueKeep Malware

BlueKeep?

BlueKeep is a a piece of malware affecting older versions of Microsoft Windows. Its risk is significant because it attacks an operating system’s Remote Desktop Protocol, which connects to another computer over a network connection. This would allow a cyberthreat to spread very quickly. Microsoft has been imploring around a million users to apply a patch in blunt warnings since mid-May. It could spread without any human interaction. For this reason, Microsoft said, “We are taking the unusual step of providing a security update for all customers to protect Windows platforms.”

Does it affect me?
It could, if you haven’t updated the software in your personal computer in a while. Microsoft says that vulnerable in-support systems include Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2008. Out-of-support systems include Windows 2003 and Windows XP. Customers running Windows 8 and Windows 10 are not affected by the vulnerability.

What should I do about it?
You should download and apply the patch, or software update, addressing the vulnerability.

Windows 10 update.

For all Windows 10 users – there is a large update arriving at your PC soon (if it hasn’t already arrived).

The download alone takes 45+ minutes and the installation/update at least the same amount of time – longer depending on your machine – and includes several restarts.

So when you get warned about an update pending choose a time when you can be without your PC for an hour or so.

Don’t be put off by the amount of time involved and remember that all system updates are likely to include security elements so don’t avoid it. Do the update as soon as is possible.

It’s that time of year.

It’s that time of year again and your email in-boxes will have been full of ‘Black Friday’ offers. Some of them were genuine but a great many were not. I hope you were careful.

Now that that ‘event’ is over we are on the run-up to Christmas and our bank balances will be cowering in fear and our in-boxes will again be full of wonderful offers. In  among these will be a deluge of ‘get rich quick’ offers particularly concerning cryptocurrencies (Bitcoins etc). Take care and ask yourself the question – if these schemes are so good why are the people contacting you wasting their time emailing you (a complete stranger) and not concentration on making their own millions.

Enjoy the festive season and take care.

cold snow holiday winter

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Phishing emails are on the increase

  • Take care – Phishing emails have started to increase in number. These are emails that try to make you part with your hard earned money or your identity (which is arguably more valuable than your cash).
  • The main variations that I have seen so far are – :

An email from what appears to a respectable organisation telling you that there is a problem with your account and that you need reconfirm your account details. They then include a link for you to follow.

  • Don’t click on the link

An email claiming to have hacked into your email account and computer and to prove it the email appears to have come from yourself. They then tell you that they have recorded you, using your webcam, visiting ‘inappropriate’ websites and all your friends will be told unless you pay them £300 / £500 in Bitcoins.

Don’t fall for it

  • Your email has been ‘Spoofed’.  That is the email has had the ‘from’ part changed to look like another email address. Do you even have a webcam? Have you visited ‘inappropriate’ websites.
  • They want to cause panic – so calmly delete the email.

 

How do you get ransomware?

Ransomware is most commonly distributed by email, social network messages and infected websites.

Email

Most ransomware is distributed by the popular malware infection technique known as “phishing”, in which you receive an email that is designed to look like it comes from someone you know or should trust. The goal is to get you to open an attachment or click on a web link in the email, which then downloads malware like ransomware to your system. Criminals will study your social networks and other public information to learn details about you to make their phishing emails more believable, e.g., by discovering where you went to school and crafting a message that looks like it comes from your alumni association.

Social networks

One of the many new techniques that ransomware gangsters are using to distribute their malicious wares includes the use of social network and instant messaging apps.

For example, criminals may send you a Facebook Messenger post that includes a graphics attachment with the commonly-used .SVG file name extension. SVG files look legitimate to the Messenger app and your browser’s white-list filtering, and so execute automatically when viewed in a standard web browser. Once opened, the file executes and redirects the reader to a website which invites the user to install a browser extension so that they can view a (fake) YouTube video. Installing this extension opens the door for a ransomware infection.

What does it mean for you? Be wary of installing software or browser extensions in response to social media posts and instant messages.

Social networks

One of the many new techniques that ransomware gangsters are using to distribute their malicious wares includes the use of social network and instant messaging apps.

For example, criminals may send you a Facebook Messenger post that includes a graphics attachment with the commonly-used .SVG file name extension. SVG files look legitimate to the Messenger app and your browser’s white-list filtering, and so execute automatically when viewed in a standard web browser. Once opened, the file executes and redirects the reader to a website which invites the user to install a browser extension so that they can view a (fake) YouTube video. Installing this extension opens the door for a ransomware infection.

What does it mean for you? Be wary of installing software or browser extensions in response to social media posts and instant messages.

What is Ransomware?

If you don’t know what ransomware is, read on. You’re in danger of losing all of the files on your computer. Ransomware is a small piece of criminal software that highjacks your computer by encrypting your files, denying you access to them, and then demands online payment for their release. It’s one of the most shameless forms of cyber extortion, and in some cases, actual blackmail.

The threat is very real. If you use email, browse websites, spend time on social networks, connect to local networks (at work, at home, or in public spaces), or use removable USB drives, whether on a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet, you are always a click or two away from a ransomware infiltration. Don’t be a victim. Outsmart cyber-criminals with a few simple steps. It’s easy, but only if you know what to look for.

Top tips for password safety

  1. Use a different password for each website that you use
  2. Keep your password secret
  3. Ensure the password is at least 8 characters in length and uses at least one capital letter and one number.
  4. Banks and similar institutions will never ask you to share your password with them (i.e. in an e-mail).

If you have used the same password that you use on your bank account on any other sites or may have shared your password with someone else, I recommend that you change your password, to stay safe.

A Guide to Ransomware

Ransomware is a small piece of criminal software that highjacks your computer by encrypting your files, denying you access to them, and then demands online payment for their release. It’s one of the most shameless forms of cyber extortion, and in some cases, actual blackmail.

Please read this article on the Acronis website to learn how ransomware is encountered, what an attack looks like, and most importantly what to do if you are a victim (hint: it helps to have an up-to-date backup!).