Cyber Attack Trends to Watch out for

With all new technology trends come new cyber attack trends. According to an article in TechRepublic.com, 90 million attacks will hit tech users in a year and 70 percent of them will go unnoticed! Because of this, we have searched for the patterns of cyber attacks to be on the look out for years to come. Here is what we found:

Ransomware will continue to rise:

There have been many cases of ransomware in the past and they are expected to rise as a security problem in taking advantage of vulnerable servers. A large part of the reason for its rise is because this is one of the easiest ways of getting confiscated data back; you just pay the ransom.

Rise in attacks on Industrial Control Systems:

Let’s face it; many of our Industrial Control Systems are past the outdated stage of technology. Because these outdated systems were not designed with cyber security in mind, they are expected to be a security issue for the future.

More Sophisticated Spear Phishing:

With more sophisticated spear phishing, it will be more difficult to tell which emails should be avoided from those that are legitimate. Spear phishing emails are no longer as simple as a scam link being sent and asking to be clicked on. They are disguised as important business/company emails.

Hacking on Internet of Things:

Because the Internet is being applied in every device, even those, which were not originally built to connect online, many every-day appliances are expected to be hit with cyberattacks. These devices can be anything from an app-controlled coffee maker to self-driven vehicles. With these devices, privacy is limited once they are hacked. Hackers can get access to your home and business through these technologies.

Simply being aware of these cyber attack trends is not enough. Security measures need to be taken in order to prevent such attacks. For information on how to get ahead of these attacks, contact M&H Consultants!

What is Antispyware?

In order to fully understand what anti-spyware is, you must understand what spyware is and does. As we have mentioned before, spyware is a type of malware that can monitor your computer by either tracking the web pages you visit or everything you could be navigating to in order to collect any information available. In order to fully protect your devices from such malware, you must download a security program, like anti-spyware.

Anti-Spyware works very similarly to an antivirus program. It detects any unwanted spyware program, deactivates it and then removes it. The way it does this is by analyzing the codes of the programs and files installed into your devices. It then compares the codes to the spyware definitions the programs already knows. Detection in anti-spyware can either be based on the rules or the actual definition of the active spyware.

Once the security program detects a match between the program’s, or file’s, code and that of which the antispyware knows, it will disable with program and send an alert. When alert is sent, it will ask whether or not you would like to remove the spyware program and, sometimes, even give you the details on the spyware, like the name of it and where it came from. Of course, fully removing the spyware is the best option.

There are many types of malware protection programs. When asked if simply downloading an antimalware program can take care of all system infestations, the answer is no. The reason why there are so many different protection programs (antivirus, antispyware, antimalware, etc.) is because there are so many infections that target your devices a single malware program can only focus on so many. There are new malware being created all the time, it’s best to protect your systems for all those that are predicted as well as the unpredicted ones.

If you are not sure which antispyware program is best for your system(s) contact M&H for guidance.

Most Common Malware

According to CNN Money, there are almost 1 million new malware threats being released daily. If that news isn’t bad enough, they also report that malware is becoming increasingly more creative and hard to detect, even for top enterprise companies. Malware is an abbreviated term meaning “malicious software.” Malware is software that is specifically designed to gain access or damage a computer without the knowledge of the owner. It is also designed to be used to compromise computer functions, steal data, bypass access controls, or otherwise cause harm to the host computer. There are a variety of malware such as: adware, bots, bugs, spyware, Trojan horses, viruses, and worms.

 

    • Adware (short for advertising-supported software) is a type of malware that automatically delivers advertisements. Common examples of adware include pop-up ads on websites and advertisements that are displayed by software. In addition, it is not uncommon for adware to come bundled with spyware (see below) that is capable of tracking user activity and stealing information.
    • Bots are software programs created to automatically perform specific operations. While some bots are created for relatively harmless purposes (video gaming, internet auctions, online contests, etc), it is becoming increasingly common to see bots being used maliciously. For example, bots can create an army of infected computers (known as ‘zombies’) that are remotely controlled by the originator. These bots can send spam emails with viruses attached, spread all types of malware, or they can use your computer as part of a denial of service attack against other systems.
    • A bug is a flaw that produces an undesired outcome. Security bugs are the most severe type of bugs and can allow attackers to bypass user authentication, override access privileges, or steal data.
    • Spyware is generally software that performs actions on your computer with or without approval and many times without you even knowing. These spying capabilities can include activity monitoring, collecting keystrokes, data harvesting (account information, logins, financial data), and more.
    • Trojans are destructive programs that look legit but attack systems as soon as they are opened and executed. Attacks can include pop up windows, or worse, they can allow unauthorized system access for hackers through back doors.
    • A virus is a form of malware that is capable of copying itself and spreading to other computers. Viruses often spread to other computers by attaching themselves to various programs and executing code when a user launches one of those infected programs.
    • Computer worms are among the most common types of malware. Worms typically cause harm to their host networks by consuming bandwidth and overloading web servers.

 

 

 

Antivirus vs. Antimalware

There is a lot of confusion about what exactly are antivirus and antimalware, and what which one works best. Well in order to find out what their purposes are, we must clear out what viruses and malware actually are.

A virus is a code within a program that can copy itself over and can cause damage to a computer by corrupting the system and, even, destroying data.

Malware, on the other hand, is a general word for any malicious infection. This includes Trojans, Spyware, worms, adware, ransomware, and (you guessed it) viruses.

Now that this is cleared out, you are probably wondering why antivirus exists when antimalware can take care of it. Well, let’s get into the differences between these two security software.

Antivirus software was created during the uprising of computers and the Internet. Therefore, this security software was created to tackle older forms of infections, like Trojans, viruses and worms. They are programmed to protect computer users from any traditional malware that are predictable and, still, dangerous.  

Opposite to antivirus, antimalware was created more recently as newer threats began to rise. These malware tend to be much less predictable since new ones are constantly being created and released at high speeds. Antimalware seeks out for more dangerous threats than those that antivirus programs are used to handling.

With that said, if you are wondering which one should be used, the answer is both. You want to protect your computer from all malware, whether it is predicted or unpredicted.

If you need more advice on which antivirus and/or antimalware programs are best, contact M&H for help!

Why your PC is Infected, Again

You’ve probably just got through getting rid of a malware issue when, all of a sudden, a new infection has tampered with your computer again. There are many reasons why this happens but one of the main issues could be that you don’t have an efficient security system. There are many different types of malware that can infect your computer in different ways.

Viruses are codes that copy themselves over causing damages to the running system it has hooked onto.

Worms are also codes that copy themselves over but run in the background of your computer rather than hooking onto the system.

Trojans are software that usually gets downloaded because they appear to be one thing but end up turning into something malicious.

Drive-by Downloads is malware that recognizes the weaknesses in your browser and causes your system to become infected.

Adware is usually hooked onto software and uses an advertising delivery system. These are easy to get rid of by simply uninstalling the downloaded software it came with.

Spyware is software that monitors your computer by either tracking the web pages you visit or everything you do with your mouse and keyboard in order to collect any information available.

Ransomware locks down your computer so that you can’t get regular access to certain programs unless a payment is made to unlock it.

Scareware is software that scares you into believing that your computer has been infected and that they have the solution to get rid of the infection if they are paid to do so.

As you can see, digital infestation is getting more and more sneaky and much more difficult to detect and prevent on your own. The best solution for this madness is to run valuable security systems in your computer. For more information on this and other ways to prevent malware from infecting your system, contact M&H by phone or email!

Avoiding Malware by Changing Habits

Business happens some days at a breakneck speed with many tasks to complete and clients to handle. Most business professionals, from employees to company leadership, have more than enough work to keep them busy. Part of the daily workload probably includes accessing  business software and the internet through emails, social media and more. Unfortunately, the long list of things-to-do may not include appropriate online security for your data including work habits that may leave your company vulnerable to malware and viruses. Complacency about work habits can mean dealing with malware or other security issues down the line. Here are a few guidelines to help your company avoid malware and viruses that can open your company up to a host of security issues.

 

  • PasswordsStopSign Internet Security recommends protecting your passwords just as carefully as you do your social security number. Don’t make it easy for hackers or people who have evil intentions to get to your data. Use passwords that use a combinations of letters, numbers, symbols and characters. Gone are the days of 123456 and QWERTY. Change passwords regularly and dont, dont keep them on a sticky not at your desk.
  • Attachments – Businesses deal with hundreds of emails a day from known clients, contractors, and sometimes unknown sources. Do not open attachments when you do not know the sender. Hackers love to slip their viruses and malware into email attachments because they know they’re going to get clicked. If they’re clicked, they’re getting their bad stuff installed. Scrutinize every email attachment and don’t click on it, download it, or even preview it until you’re sure it’s from a reliable source. (Source: StopSign Internet Security)
  • Questionable Sites – Yes business professionals visit multiple sites daily, weekly and monthly. Avoid questionable sites including adult sites and sites asking for money or log in information, and data about your company.
  • Software Updates – Keep your software current – this includes Java, Adobe Flash, and internet browsers like Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox – as well as regular Windows Updates. The more updated your software is, especially your security software, the less likely you are to get malware. Make one person in your office in charge of regular updates or choose update automatically where possible.
  • Firewall Updates – A firewall is a set of rules that chooses which information can access your PC. It can help prevent malware infections by stopping suspicious programs from getting onto your PC, or accessing the internet once installed.

Spyware

There are many types of cyber threats that business owners and individuals need to be alert for in our tech driven world today.  Spyware is one such malicious threat.  Let’s examine what spyware is, how it can impact your system or your business computer system and steps to take to prevent spyware in the future.

What is Spyware?

Spyware is software designed with the goal of gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge and that may send such information to another entity without the consumer’s consent, or that takes control over a computer without the consumer’s knowledge. Spyware is usually in one of the following categories:  system monitors, trojans, adware, and tracking cookies. The main use of spyware is tracking and storing Internet users’ movements on the Web and serving up pop-up ads to Internet users. Spyware can get in a computer as a software virus or as the result of installing a new program. In addition, spyware is often installed without the user’s consent, as a drive-by download, or as the result of clicking some option in a deceptive pop-up window. Software designed to serve advertising, known as adware, can usually be thought of as spyware as well because it almost invariably includes components for tracking and reporting user information.

How does it impact your system?

  • Spyware can gather information about e-mail addresses and even passwords and credit card numbers.
  • Spyware can also negatively affect a computer’s performance by installing additional software, redirecting web browser searches, changing computer settings, reducing connection speeds, changing the homepage or even completely disrupting network connection ability.
  • Spyware software uses valuable Internet bandwidth that isn’t available for your other activities. Not only is the spyware sending your personal information without your consent, it is slowing down your computer to do it.

Preventing Spyware – Here are a few tips from the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

  • Don’t click on links within pop-up windows.
  • Choose “no” when asked unexpected questions on your device.
  • Be wary of free downloadable software.
  • Don’t follow email links claiming to offer anti-spyware software.
  • Adjust your browser preferences to limit pop-up windows and cookies.

If you suspect an installation of spyware on your system contact M&H Consulting. We will be able to run a full scan on your computer with your anti-virus software, run a legitimate product specifically designed to remove spyware, and make sure that your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are compatible.

All About Macs

Joshua Hewitt

So you have a Mac and you hear about all the PC users getting some sort of “virus”, “spyware” or “malware”. You do not have to worry because you have a Mac, right? Wrong! Macs are now becoming the target of viruses, spyware and malware. Back in the day, there was much less worry about any “junkware” infecting your PC. Now that Macs are becoming more popular in homes and offices, they are becoming bigger targets than previously seen. While there is no I 00% fool proof protection, here at M&H, we highly recommend to make sure that your investment in a computer is protected. The Apple system OS began setting up some built in protection since system release 10.6. 7, but as you know, computers and programs evolve by the minute! The built-in security features of OS X reduce the risk of malware attack, but they’re not absolute protection. It’s very important to have not only an antivirus solution (such as Sophos antivirus for example), but to also have a malware/spyware solution as well. So, how can you get said “malware” and/or “spyware”?

  • Software from an untrustworthy source
    • Software of any kind is distributed via BitTorrent or Usenet.
    • Software with a corporate brand, such as Adobe Flash Player, doesn’t come directly from the developer’s website.
    • Rogue websites such as Softonic and CNET Download distribute free applications that have been packaged in a superfluous “installer.”
    • The software is advertised by means of spam or intrusive web pop ups.
  • Software that is plainly illegal or does something illegal
    • Software that you would otherwise have to pay for is “cracked” or “free.”
    • An application helps you to infringe copyright, for instance by circumventing the copy protection on commercial software, or saving streamed media for reuse without permission.
  • Conditional or unsolicited offers from strangers
    • A web page tells you that you have a “virus” and offers to help you remove it. (Some reputable websites did legitimately warn visitors who were infected with the “DNSChanger” malware. That exception to this rule no longer applies.)
    • A web site offers free content such as video or music, but to use it you must install a “codec,” ” plug-in,” “player,” “downloader,” “extractor,” or “certificate” that comes from that same site, or an unknown one.
    • You win a prize in a contest you never entered.
    • Someone on a message board such as this one is eager to help you, but only if you install an application of his choosing.
    • A “FREE WI-FI!!!” network advertises itself in a public place such as an airport, but is not provided by the management.
  • Unexpected events
    • You open what looks like a document and get an alert that it’s “an application downloaded from the Internet.” Click Cancel and delete the file or message.
    • An application does something inexplicable, such as asking for permission to access your contacts, your location, or the Internet for no obvious reason.
    • Software is attached to email that you didn’t request, even if it comes (or seems to come) from someone you trust.

macs

So here is the bottom line, be careful of what sites you visit, what emails you open and what programs you run. Say if you were walking on the streets of Boston, and someone came up to you and said “Hey, I got a free watch! You want it?” I would be very cautious of that person. The same thing should go for using the internet. You want to make sure you have your information protected, and again, we advise to protect your investment. Macs are great machines, but like a car, they need to be taken care of Remember, if you ever have any questions or concerns, ask our tech experts at M&H during your next tech for a day visit or email us at support@mhconsults.com

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