Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bye bye Viruses, Hello Carelessness

It's almost like in the Everly Brothers song "Bye Bye Love" from 1957. They sang
Bye bye happiness, hello loneliness...
I am enticed to, no, don't be afraid, not sing but say
Bye bye viruses, hello carelessness...
In August 2014 I wrote in this blog the 2014 Update On Malicious Programs. Everything in this article is still valid today – which in the fast changing world of computers is astonishing all by itself. Self replicating viruses that "find and infect" our computers by their own accord have gone almost extinct.
What has massively changed though are the tricks and methods used by miscreants to foist their malicious junk software on our computers. It is so bad that I feel compelled to say
Do NOT click on any link in any email,
do NOT open any email attachment
and NEVER click in any advertisement.
Does that sound extreme to you? Good, because it is extreme. We are in an extreme situation and it's getting worse so extreme measures seem appropriate.
In the meantime you have learned to immediately delete emails with an unfamiliar sender address. But what about the email from that buddy of yours who always sends all the jokes? My advice is to IGNORE it! Just hit the Delete button. If that email really was from him and if he were a nice guy he would have told you in the email why and what he sends there. If he does not have the decency to do that you better err on the side of caution and delete that email; you may “miss” a joke but what is that compared to $100 or $200 cost for a good clean-up job?
Another way how modern malware (called PuPs) is distributed are dirty tricks pulled on us when we apply required updates. Even big, well known companies participate in these schemes; names that come to mind as examples are Oracle, Norton, McAfee and Adobe. Some visual examples are here.
And don't get me going on advertisements. Listen up:
If you see advertisements on your computer screen then you computer most likely already is compromised. Get it cleaned up!
And then the sneaky methods that well known download web sites like Download.com, Cnet.com and other use. You want to download that nice free little program and what they give you is a specially crafted downloader program that in turn is supposed to download the program you actually want. But what you get are one or several PuPs and then the program you really wanted.
The only method to help here is to watch for the tricks, traps and deceptions. 
In July 2013 I published my 10 Commandments Of Safe Computing. To heed the first of these has become more important than ever before; it reads:
Thou shalt read and think(!) before you click.
Be vigilant, pay attention to details and always remember: If it sounds too good to be true it usually is not true; especially in this day and age on the Internet.

As usual I welcome suggestions and comments right here in the blog.

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