Posts Tagged ‘malware’

Email Giants Move to Slash ‘Phishing’

Posted on: January 31st, 2012 by Jim Collier No Comments

Email-service providers Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and AOL Inc. are backing a new effort intended to dramatically reduce “phishing” emails, which attempt to trick recipients into thinking they come from a legitimate source.

Some of the underlying technologies are already used widely in protecting email, relying on the equivalent of digital signatures that help identify a message’s sender.

The companies—along with others such as financial-service companies Bank of America Corp., FMR LLC’s Fidelity Investments and eBay Inc.’s PayPal—are hoping to create an environment that allows the recipient of an email from, say, a bank, to feel secure that it isn’t a trick.

To achieve that, the firms have created DMARC.org, a working group of 15 companies that plans to promote a standard set of technologies that they say will lead to more secure email.

Some of the underlying technologies are already used widely in protecting email, relying on the equivalent of digital signatures that help identify a message’s sender. But senders don’t always authenticate every message they send, so recipients are forced to rely on complex and imperfect ways to distinguish trusted messages from potentially fraudulent ones, backers of the effort say.

Brett McDowell, chair of DMARC and a senior manager at PayPal, says senders also need policies that tell email providers how to treat messages that aren’t authenticated. That way, the email provider will be able to vouch for the authenticity of the real emails—and block fake ones or label them suspicious.

PayPal has been using the authentication technologies with Yahoo’s email service since 2007 and with Google’s since 2008, Mr. McDowell says, and is now blocking around 200,000 fake emails per day. Adam Dawes, a product manager at Google, says that 15% of the messages the company delivers to inboxes—a count that doesn’t include spam and other junk emails—is currently protected with the authentication safeguards.

Such volumes could be the reason that this effort to secure email can succeed where past ones have failed, representing a “critical mass” of key companies, says Mr. McDowell.

If the system were to work and email could be authenticated, it would allow businesses to communicate with customers in new ways—or rather in old ways that have been compromised by phishing attacks. A bank customer would be able to trust an email advising him to follow a link and update his account information, for example. Currently, many companies tell customers not to trust emails with this kind of message, and many consumers assume that such messages are phishing attacks.

“If you are a big bank or a retailer, you have a very strong interest in making sure people trust your messages,” says Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, which tracks the messaging industry. While past efforts to secure email have fallen short, DMARC “has a lot of promise,” he says.

Even if every email can be authenticated, it won’t bring an end to email fraud, Mr. McDowell acknowledges. But it will mean that scammers need to find new addresses with which to launch their attacks. Instead of crafting an email that looks like it comes from paypal.com, for instance, it would need to come from “paypalpayments.com” or some other fake site.

The DMARC working group officially launches Monday. Besides email providers and financial-service firms, initial participants include social-networking companies such as Facebook Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. and messaging-security providers such as Agari Data Inc.

Mr. McDowell said it won’t cost a lot for companies to start using the standards, but it will require them to identify every server that sends email and ensure that the technologies are in use. The same holds true for third-party firms such as marketing agencies that send email on behalf of a company.

When it comes to receiving emails, it’s likely that email vendors or security firms will add the capability to authenticate messages into future versions of their systems, Mr. McDowell says. He hopes that makers of security and email software also adopt the DMARC standards.

Write to Ben Worthen at ben.worthen@wsj.com.

Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.

MalwareBytes: to Remove Stubborn Malware

Posted on: July 7th, 2011 by Jim Collier No Comments

Malware is an ever-growing problem with today’s computer systems. Your computer is constantly at risk from infection by malware including viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, dialers, and spyware. Malwarebytes specializes in fighting these malware processes.

If viruses are mischief, malware is mayhem. Malware doesn’t just want to disrupt your network, it wants your keystrokes, logins, passwords, address book, data, credit card information, favorite t-shirt and possibly your cat.

Malware is not going away any time soon. Malware is growing, developing, constantly evolving. Malware is becoming more difficult to detect, and even harder to remove.

Only the most sophisticated anti-malware techniques can detect and remove malicious programs from your computer. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware PRO combines powerful new technologies designed to seek out, destroy, and prevent malware.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware PRO detects AND protects in an easy-to-use, straightforward, heavy-hitting but lightweight anti-malware application.

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Corporate and business customers need annual licenses; please see our Corporate Licensing program.

Malwarebytes technology takes the next step in the fight against malware. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware PRO detects and removes malware where even the best known anti-virus and anti-malware applications fail.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware PRO monitors every process and stops malicious processes before they even start. The Proactive Protection Module keeps your system safe and secure with advanced heuristic scanning technology. The comprehensive Threats Center keeps you up-to-date with the latest malware threats.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware PRO Features include:

  • Flash – Lightning fast scan speeds
  • Thorough – Full scans for all drives
  • Works Well With Others – Cooperative functionality
  • Puts YOU first! – Priority database updates
  • Puts Malware in the Slammer – Quarantine function holds threats and lets you restore at your convenience
  • Talk to the hand – Ignore list for both the scanner and Protection Module
  • For Your Pleasure – Customizable settings enhance performance
  • Toolbox – Extra utilities to help remove malware manually
  • Nitty Gritty – Command line support for quick scanning
  • RPP, Yeah You Know Me – Realtime Proactive Protection Module (not included in the free version)
  • Hablamos Everything! – Multi-lingual support (Klingon still in beta)
  • Support for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Citigroup Breach Now Reportedly Affecting More Than 360k

Posted on: June 17th, 2011 by Jim Collier No Comments

More than 360,000 North American credit cards were exposed in May when an attack on Citigroup infiltrated that company’s card account management website according to a report by IDG News.

The breach exposed the names, account numbers, and contact information of account holders, but not other personal information such as Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, and card expiration dates, according to the report.

Citigroup declined to provide further information on the attack, citing an on-going investigation. The company has thus far failed to explain how the breach occurred and how the company plans to keep such breaches from occurring in the future, prompting criticism from Connecticut Attorney General, George Jepson.

The New York-based financial services company initially disclosed the breach last week, claiming that only 210,000 accounts had been compromised. The company acknowledged a 20-day gap between when it became aware of the breach and when notification letters were sent to those affected.

Citi is the latest in a growing line of financial and e-commerce companies to suffer such breaches. Back in May, Finnish authorities arrested 17 individuals in connection with an attack in Nordea Finland’s online banking system. Other financial companies have suffered breaches in recent years as well, as hackers focus their energy on high-value targets to yield the more lucrative data.

As with banking itself, much of the fraud has moved online according to a 2011 study by the Business Banking Trust. The issue of attributing blame in these compromises is proving to be a contentious one as well, with a number of cases making their way through Federal and state courts questioning whether customers or the banks are to blame lapses in security.

On Thursday, BITS, a group made up of executives of leading financial services firms, published a report on malware that urged financial services companies to share more information about attacks and breaches with their counterparts, and to adopt better methods for detecting and responding to malware and other security incidents.