As we have recently mentioned on our blog, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. And I’m sure we will post more to raise awareness of the risks you personally face, the risks to the institutions you do business with, and to the government itself.
Today, though, I want you to start to broaden your outlook on this issue. While you are getting acquainted with new threats like nation-state funded attacks, cyber-terrorism, and hactivism, I’d also ask you to look at some of the things our legislatures have been proposing in the name of cybersecurity. This includes early efforts to protect critical industry sectors our energy grid or banking systems against cyberattack, and requirements that we move beyond passwords when we access Web sites where we perform transactions or access personal data. As all these initiatives come with costs, none have universal support. But some cybersecurity proposals have generated more controversy than others, including: like the SOPA and PIPA bills that coddled the media industry by conflating digital piracy with cybersecurity and whose proposed remedies would have create a regime of censorship, or the federal development and control of a so-called “Internet Kill Switch“.
There will continue to be a lot going on here legislatively, and anything that changes the government’s role in the Internet will affect you as well. So let’s make also do our job as responsible, informed citizens. Let’s make October National Cybersecurity Policy Awareness Month. Let’s get educated, and involved.
A single phishing campaign can send millions of emails to consumers in an attempt to part them from their money. Hundreds of phishing websites are established online every day, designed to lure consumers to give up personal information. And it appears that there is no slow-down among the hardworking cybercrooks because the number of phishing attacks targeted at consumers remain high, reports The Anti-Phishing Working Group, an organization that tracks and reports phishing occurrences.
Social engineering and technical trickery are the cornerstones of phishing whose goal is to steal consumers’ personal identity data and financial account credentials. Spoofed emails that appear to be from legitimate businesses, lead consumers to fake websites, which can look the same as the real thing, tricking them into divulging data such as usernames and passwords. Cybercrooks can also use technical tricks to install specially designed malware onto PCs in order to capture online account user names and passwords and misdirect consumers to counterfeit websites.
Among industries, financial services are targeted by phishers more than any other. Cybercrooks have a new variation that cons financial advisers into wiring cash out of their clients’ online investment accounts. USA Today reports that, “Cybercriminals have discovered that investors now routinely rely on email to authorize personal advisers to execute financial transactions. Search engines and social networks have made finding and profiling potential victims, and their advisers, easy.”
How can you protect yourself against phishing?
The avast! Mail Shield scans all incoming and outgoing email and attachments for malware. For the highest level of home protection, avast! Internet Security has a comprehensive spam and phishing filter, which analyses all incoming email based on various criteria to determine whether it is legitimate.
Steps you can take:
- Have good habits – do not respond to the links in an unsolicited email or on Facebook
- Protect your passwords and don’t reveal them to anyone
- Do not give sensitive information to anyone—on the phone, in person or through email
- Look at the website’s URL (web address.) In many phishing cases, the web address may look legitimate but the URL may be misspelled or the domain is different (.com when it should be .gov)
- Keep your browser up-to-date and apply security patches
- Do not open attachments from unsolicited email
If you believe you have compromised sensitive information about your accounts, contact your financial institution, credit card company, or appropriate authorities.
When a fire blazes, a thief strikes or a cup of coffee spills, having a backup copy of your computer files is a major relief. Hardware can be replaced, but retrieving precious photos, your extensive music collection and the past few years’ tax returns – well, not so simple – until now.
Avast! BackUp is an online backup and recovery service that allows you to select sets of data or individual files you want to back up. For example, if you only want to back up your music, you could choose files with .mp3 extensions, or, like me, if you want a backup of Outlook to preserve work contacts, you can choose Outlook email and contacts. For a second level of protection you can also back up to a local external drive.
From a box or from scratch, they’re easy to make
Just mix up the batter and put in to bake
A personal treat, no sharing required
In frosting, sprinkles or candies attired
Peel back the paper of each yummy delight
And devour it all in three or four bites
I praise thee, Oh Cupcake, you make my heart flutter
A heavenly mixture: Flour, sugar and butter
Whimsical cupcakes are a trendy product and hugely popular in the US these days. Maybe it’s because cupcakes are the perfect guilt-free dessert: Single-serving sized so there is no need to feel guilty about not sharing and just small enough so there is no need to feel guilty about eating the whole thing either. Every town has a cupcake shop or two, cupcakes are featured in movies (the main character in Bridesmaids was a cupcake artist), and there are at least three TV shows dedicated to making cupcakes, one amusingly called Cupcake Wars.
There are many websites about cupcakes as well, and that’s where the delightful cupcake’s image gets tainted. In the past few days, the AVAST Virus Lab research has identified at least five websites and blogs about cooking which are infected with Trojans, malicious script tags, encrypted redirectors, and other types of malware. Read more…