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Posts Tagged ‘ malware ’

The USB stick that thinks it’s a keyboard

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012


To Covent Garden, where James Lyne – director of technology strategy at Sophos – has been presenting a review of the security landscape during 2012, and a look forward to next year’s threats. The review is an annual event, and always entertaining thanks to Lyne’s bona fide geek credentials: this year’s talk included references to Anonymous masks, the obligatory Gangnam Style allusion and several exhortations to “[verb] all the things”.

Predictions for 2013 include increasingly sophisticated and targeted attacks, on mobile platforms as well as PCs. No surprises there. More interestingly, Lyne also expects to see a rise in ransomware, which locks away your files and provides the decryption key only on payment of a fee. So far, malware ransoms have typically been around the £200 mark, but Lyne reckons criminals will soon start to recognise high value targets (such as company CEOs) and demand much higher fees for the return of sensitive documents. He describes this type of attack as “irreversible”, as there’s nothing third-party software can do to recover your files if they’ve been strongly encrypted: the only defence is to keep backups. You’ve been warned.

The part of the talk that particularly struck me, however, relates to the little device pictured above, which Lyne demonstrated with glee. Fully assembled, it looks just like a regular USB flash drive. Or, from the internal microSD slot, you might assume it was some sort of card reader. In fact – believe it or not – it’s a keyboard. (more…)

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Posted in: Random


DNSChanger a “damp squib”? That’s a good thing

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012


The DNSChanger server shutdown has come and gone, and it was nothing but a “damp squib”, a doomsday that “fizzled”, and not worth the headlines comparing it to the frenzied build-up around Y2K. The Daily Mail’s talented subs managed to shove most of that sentiment into a single headline: “Malware internet meltdown a bust as feared DNS Changer virus fizzles on ‘doomsday’.”

Uh, guys? It’s good when the internet doesn’t meltdown. Doomsdays, as should be clear from the name, are bad — when they “fizzle”, we should crack open champagne, not whine.


Prince William’s wedding is more dangerous than porn

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010


It is bad enough, for someone with no great interest in the monarchy, that the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton has now dominated TV, print and online news outlets for the past 24 hours solid. I know I risk being verbally scolded by the twin-pronged pro-Royalty army that is the combined forces of the blue-rinsed brigade and readers of Heat magazine, but I think I can safely say that the forthcoming Royal wedding is now officially bad news. I can also say that you would be safer searching for porn than searching for news about the Royal nuptials.

Security researchers at the Websense labs have uncovered the first wave of poisoned search engine results to wash onto Google and Yahoo alike, using everything from promises of ‘Prince William Wedding Photos’ through to the much more generic, and likely all the more successful as a result, ‘Prince William Wedding’ as lures to sites which will hit the unsuspecting and unprotected visitor with the latest drive-by download attacks.


Can Microsoft Security Essentials beat Norton?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

What do Microsoft and Symantec have in common? The obvious answer is that both are offering a new security package. In Symantec’s case it’s Norton Internet Security 2010, which I looked at a few weeks back. Microsoft, meanwhile, is today due to release Security Essentials, its free replacement for OneCare, formerly codenamed Morro.

They’re also both companies dogged by the sins of products past. (more…)

Uninstalled software shouldn’t hijack your browser

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Warning signFinding myself with an idle 20 minutes on the train to work this morning, I decided to give my laptop a long overdue spring clean (it’s July, after all).  I started by uninstalling a handful of applications that have served their purpose.

Once removed, no fewer than two thirds of them (yes folks, that’s two out of three, but I’m building for dramatic effect here), arbitrarily fired up my browser and sent me to their websites to fill out a survey demanding to know why I had the temerity to remove their software from my system. Bloody cheek.

Software that automatically fires up your browser and sends you without warning to a strange website is a hair’s breadth away from malware, in my book. And how long will it be before genuine malware writers find a way to adjust that URL, and send unsuspecting uninstallers off to a site that automatically executes something far nastier than a customer retention questionnaire?

The fact I’ve chosen to uninstall a piece of software means that application should no longer exert any control over my PC, let alone fire up my web browser on its way out. If software companies can’t be trusted to act responsibly with their uninstallers, then Microsoft needs to take that power away from them.

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Posted in: Rant







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