There is no evidence of a Twitter data breach
32,888,300 login details of Twitter users have been put up for sale on the Dark Web. A user going by the alias Tessa88@exploit.im is asking for 10 bitcoins (£4060.20 at todays exchange rate) from anyone that wants a copy of the list. Twitter however, is confident that this is not a breach of its network.
It is believed that the details may have been gathered from combining information from other recent website breaches, malware on victim machines that are stealing passwords for all sites, or a combination of both. Twitter has cross-checked data with their own records and Twitter accounts identified for extra protection have been locked and require a password reset by the account owner.
LeakedSource, a site that keeps a database of leaked login credentials, added a copy of the data to their searchable repository of leaked data. Credentials on the list have been verified as real and valid and LeakedSource use the following explanation as proof this was not a Twitter data breach.
The join dates of some users with uncrackable (yet plaintext) passwords were recent. There is no way that Twitter stores passwords in plaintext in 2014 for example.
There was a very significant amount of users with the password “<blank>” and “null”. Some browsers store passwords as “<blank>” if you don’t enter a password when you save your credentials.
The top email domains don’t match up to a full database leak, more likely the malware was spread to Russians.
LeakedSource also list some of the passwords Twitter users use and it shows that there are a lot of people who are not following good password practices. You can read an earlier post of mine regarding password security and if you are using simple passwords and/or using them on multiple sites, change your habits now.
There is also a large concern of malware harvesting credentials, not just for Twitter but for any website that your browser may have saved passwords for. Check your computer regularly for viruses and malware, if you don’t feel confident in doing this, take your computer to a local computer repair company and ask them to check for you.
Adobe Flash Player is one of those items of software that many people are unsure about updating. A window will appear on the desktop offering an update and it will be closed because people are not sure what Adobe Flash Player is or what it does.
Adobe Flash Player is software used to stream and view video, audio and multimedia and rich internet applications on your computer. Without it some websites you visit may not function as intended. Like all software on your computer it needs to be kept up-to-date to keep it secure.
Adobe delivers updates on the second Tuesday of every month. When critical vulnerabilities in the software are discovered though, further updates are released. These subsequent updates are often ignored as people think they have already updated and sometimes are annoyed at repeated updates. These updates are an essential part of helping to keep your machine secure.
Adobe has released security updates for Adobe Flash Player for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. These updates address a critical vulnerability (CVE-2015-3113) that could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.
Adobe is aware of reports that CVE-2015-3113 is being actively exploited in the wild via limited, targeted attacks. Systems running Internet Explorer for Windows 7 and below, as well as Firefox on Windows XP, are known targets.
Adobe recommends users update their product installations to the latest versions
How can I check Adobe Flash Player is up-to-date?
Adobe Flash Player installed with Google Chrome and Adobe Flash Player installed with Internet Explorer on Windows 8.x will automatically update to version 188.8.131.52 (the latest version as of 01 July 2015). If in any doubt, visit Adobe Flash Player help and click the “Check Now” button.
Towards the end of 2014 TalkTalk customer details were accessed following a data breach against a third party contractor that had legitimate access to the customer accounts. The data that was accessed was names, home addresses, phone numbers and TalkTalk account numbers. No financial data such as bank or credit card details, or dates of birth were taken.
Scammers may be using the information they have illegally obtained to trick people into thinking they are genuine TalkTalk callers, and encouraging them to hand over more detailed information, such as their bank details.
With scams of all kinds on the rise, it is so important for us all to remain aware and alert, especially when asked for personal banking details or to remote access your computer.
If you are in any doubt about the legitimacy of a caller, HANG UP and call the company on a trusted number.
- Never reveal personal or financial data including usernames, passwords, PINs, or ID numbers.
- Be very careful that people or organisations you are supplying payment card information are genuine, and then never reveal passwords. Remember that a bank or other reputable organisation will never ask you for your password via email or phone call.
- When calling any company, ensure you get the number from a trusted source – such as the official website or your latest bill or statement.
- If you get a call that feels suspicious, hang up and call back on the official number.
- You should always ensure the fraudster has hung up before you dial as sometimes they keep the line open to try to trick you. If you are in any doubt you should phone a friend or a trusted number first to make sure it goes through correctly.
Social Engineering is the act of manipulating people into certain actions. Criminals use social engineering tactics because it is easier to exploit your natural inclination to trust than exploit your computers security.
The technical support phone call is a very common way criminals use this tactic to persuade you to pay for a service you didn’t actually need. I posted on this subject back in April 2013 and you can read the article at http://www.sig-ma.co.uk/phone-scam/
The reason I am posting about the subject again is, the criminals have not stopped using this form of social engineering and unfortunately people are still falling for their very persuasive tactics.
I receive a number of calls throughout the year from people wanting advice after being phoned by ‘Tech Support’ or ‘Windows’, ‘Microsoft’ etc. Last week a customer phoned me after receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be from ‘TalkTalk’. They managed to persuade her to allow them remote access to her computer and whilst she was unwilling to part with any payment details the damage was already done. The caller had applied a password to her Security Account Manager (known as SAM). This is a database that stores user account and security information and runs automatically when you start your computer. Without access to this your computer is not going to boot beyond asking for a password.
If you receive a phone call from anyone claiming to be aware of problems on your computer
Even if they ask for you by name or can give other information that might relate to you.
If you are having problems with your computer or have given remote access to someone who phoned up then I suggest you contact a local computer repair company to have your computer checked.
It is extremely important in our technology led world that the security on the computers you use is kept up to date. This week the National Crime Agency (NCA) has announced it has taken temporary control of communications used to connect with infected computers that could steal your financial information or hold your computer to ransom. The NCA expects only a very limited window of opportunity for you to ensure you are protected.
The threat that is causing most concern is one that uses two different types of malware to infect your computer.
Also known as GOZeus or P2PZeus, is malware used to infect computers so that they can be ‘taken over’ by the criminals. This can then be used to download and install additional malware, view your files, monitor your bank accounts, send emails in your name and even use your webcam to spy on you. This type of malware will normally go unnoticed as it does not make visible changes to your computer. If the criminals are unable to make a profit in this way CryptoLocker is downloaded.
This type of infection is known as ‘ransomware’. Your files are encrypted, which prevents you from opening them, and you are issued with a ransom demand. If you pay the ransom there is no guarantee that your files will be unlocked. Once any files are encrypted they are effectively useless to you, there is no way to get them back without the encryption key.
Computers normally get infected by email attachments being opened or links clicked to go to bogus websites. If you are not sure of an email you have been sent, delete it, do not open it. Do not open attachments that you are not expecting and be wary of clicking on links in emails to access your accounts or reset passwords etc. Phishing emails can be very convincing and you may see even more connected with this threat claiming to be from your broadband provider, law enforcement agencies or even friends and family. If in doubt, delete it!
Windows XP, like every Windows product, has a lifecycle. This lifecycle ends when it’s no longer supported or sold. Windows XP will no longer be supported from April 08, 2014. The countdown in the right-hand column tells you how long you have until this point, but what happens then?
In all honesty, nothing. Your Windows XP computer will still boot up and you can continue to use it as you would normally, but your computer will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your computer from harmful viruses, spyware and other malicious software that can steal your personal information. Any exploits found in newer versions of Windows are likely to be tested to see whether they can also be adapted to attack Windows XP, and, if they’re successful, there will be no help from Microsoft in fixing the problem.
Windows XP users options?
You have a number of options and cost will play a part in your decisions.
You could buy a new computer with Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed. Many people do not like the idea of Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 8 as it is a big change from what people have been used to. The onus is on a more ‘touch screen’ environment with a need to still swap between the new look desktop and the old familiar desktop environment to carry out certain tasks. Windows 7 computers are still available to buy though they are harder to find from the large retailers as sales are concentrated on Windows 8 based computers.
We can provide both Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers at very reasonable prices. Our ‘economy’ computer is priced at £305 and can have Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed, the price includes setting up the computer in your home, free antivirus and an hour of free tuition on your new computer, if you should need it. The price does not include a monitor, keyboard or mouse. You could upgrade your current computer but this may not be the most cost effective option especially if your computer is relatively old as hardware will need upgrading or replacing and may work out more expensive than a new computer.
Better still, why not replace Windows XP with Ubuntu.
It is the world’s most popular free Operating System used by over 20 million people worldwide. Buy an economy computer from Sig-ma with Ubuntu installed for £235 – and that still includes the setup and hours tuition. You can read about Ubuntu on their website which is www.ubuntu.com and you can always book a free session with Sig-ma so you can experience it for yourself and ask any questions.
For an idea of the computers we sell visit http://www.sig-ma.co.uk/custom.html
Browser security is a very important part of keeping you safe online. Your browser is one of the main tools you use to access the Internet. It is a software program that allows you to visit web pages and use web applications. Unless you have been more adventurous than most you are probably using one of the top five browsers: Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Opera.
Whichever browser you are using though, cyber attackers can be pretty certain you will have at least one on your computer which is why they make browsers one of their primary targets. They search for, and find, programming errors and other flaws in browsers which are known as vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can be exploited, giving attackers access to, and sometimes even complete control, over your computer.
The browser developers release patches to fix these vulnerabilities which is why it is essential that you always have the latest version of your browser installed. Having the latest version will ensure your browser has these known issues fixed.
Check the browser security of all browsers installed on your computer, even if you do not use them they are still vulnerable to attacks.
To manually check whether your browser is up to date follow the instructions below:
Updates for Internet Explorer are included when you install Windows updates.
Safari is no longer developed for Windows and the last update was in May 2012. If you have Safari installed on your Windows based computer it is recommended that you remove it.
Scams never seem to go away; this particular phone scam has been around since at least 2009 and keeps resurfacing on a regular basis.
Do NOT follow the advice of these unsolicited phone calls, they are scams.
The phone scam starts with a member of the household being asked for by name, the scammer will say they are working for Microsoft or will give the name of what sounds to be a legitimate tech company. They will then tell you that your computer is infected or that it has errors which will cause the computer to fail and you will lose your data etc.
Most of the phone scammers will get you to open a program called event viewer on your computer and you will see warnings and error messages which the scammer will claim as proof of your computer being infected or its imminent demise. These errors and warnings are legitimate, harmless errors and do not mean you have an infected computer or that your computer is failing.
Next the scammer might ask you for a payment so that they can repair your computer. You might be asked to visit a website and give remote access to the scammer, who could then access your personal data, or download software that will give them access.
Do NOT give your card details out to unsolicited callers. Do NOT give remote access to unsolicited callers. Do NOT download software or click on links that you are not sure about.
HANG UP. They might call back, just hang up every time they do. They will get bored and give up at some point. If you pay money to these scammers you probably wont get it back and will end up needing the services of a legitimate computer repair company which will cost you more money.
Protect yourself and friends by forwarding this on to anyone you think it might help.
Java has been in the technology news recently after vulnerabilities were found in the latest release. Vulnerabilities in software leave computers open to attack, so it is important that the software on your computer is up to date.
But what is Java and why do you need it?
Java allows programs written in the java programming language to run on your computer. It works on multiple operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS or Linux and means that the programmers only have to write a program once and not worry about whether the user has a PC or a Mac computer, or be concerned with which browser is being used.
Java runs on more than 850 million personal computers worldwide, and on billions of devices worldwide, including mobile and TV devices.
Is your version up to date?
The easiest way to check is to go to www.java.com and click on the verify java version button. Follow the prompts and install the latest version if needed. Clear the checkbox if you do not want the Ask Toolbar installed during installation.
A computer health check with us at Sig-ma is £50.00, we will give your computer a thorough clean and make sure it is running at its best, this includes removing unnecessary files and programmes, installing important updates and software patches.
Rogue security software is a form of internet fraud that tricks you into paying money for fake removal of malware. The software reports a number of infections and lures you into paying for a service or additional software to remove or fix these problems.
In most instances these infections do not exist but the software will disable methods of its removal and leave you open to further infections.
How did it get onto my computer?
The software relies on tricking you into believing you are infected and persuading you to install the software, this could be from an official looking window claiming viruses/malware have been found on your machine and encouraging you to click to remove them.
- You can accidentally install them yourself believing them to be legitimate tools
- They can be installed via browser plug-ins or extensions (typically toolbars)
- An image, screensaver or file attached to email
- Multimedia codecs required to play certain video clips
- Software shared on peer-to-peer networks.
Some rogue anti virus software can be installed onto your computer without any interaction from you, these exploit security vulnerabilities in web browsers, pdf viewers or email clients to do this.
How do I protect myself?
Make sure your computer software is up to date, this means your operating system and any other software that you use. Do you have up to date antivirus and antispyware software installed on your machine and run regular scans? Install a firewall and keep it turned on and always use caution when you click on links in emails or on social networking sites.