UPDATE: This sweepstakes is now closed. The winner will be contacted and then announced via our Facebook page.
Facebook recently announced a new feature: One-time passwords sent to users via text message.
[To use this feature, go to “Account “> “Account Settings”. Under “My Account”, click “Mobile”. If you already have a mobile activated, you’re ready to go. If not, you need to “Sign up for Facebook Mobile.” Facebook will text you a code to activate your phone. Now, whenever you need a One-time password, just text “otp” to 32665 (FBOOK).]
Does Facebook just want access to more mobile phones, as security expert Larry Zeltser has suggested? Probably. But Facebook has looked at its user base and attempted to solve a serious security problem.
If you’ve ever taken a look at the screen on the public computers in libraries, Internet cafes and schools, you see that nearly everyone has Facebook open. And the problem with public computers is that you have no idea what has been installed on them—including a keylogger.
A keylogger can track every key you hit, possibly revealing your most intimate credentials to a cybercriminal. That’s why entering your Facebook password on an unsecured public PC is risky. And shopping or banking on an unsecured PC is like shouting your credit card number through a megaphone. You would never do that. People do things online that they would never in the real world.
So here’s this week’s question. Have you ever shopped or banked on a public computer? Yes or no will do. But we’d love to hear your story.
Read the rules and post your answer in the comments for your chance to win a brand new Nokia N8 plus F-Secure Internet Security 2011.
F-Secure Internet Security 2011
GET REAL SWEEPSTAKES WEEK #5- COMPETITION RULES AND PRIZES
If you do not accept these rules, please do not enter this promotion.
1. The sponsor of this promotion is F-Secure Corporation, located at Tammasaarenkatu 7, Po. Box 24, 00181 Helsinki, Finland (“Sponsor”).
2. The promotion will begin at 6:00 PM PDT on October 17, 2010 and end at 6:00 PM PDT October 24, 2010.
3. This promotion is void where prohibited or restricted by law. No purchase is necessary to enter.
4. 3 prizes a Nokia N8 with a retail value of $549 and 2 F-Secure Internet Security licenses with a retail value of $119.98 will be given as prizes in this promotion at the close of the competition.
5. Only one (1) entry, per person per Sweepstakes will be accepted. Each comment posted constitutes an entry. Further attempts made by the same person and entries generated by a script, computer programs, macro, programmed, robotic or other automated means will be disqualified.
6. The winner will be chosen randomly from the people who participated in the competition by commenting on the “Get Real Sweepstakes Week #5“. Sponsor will notify the winner via email. If the winner does not respond within seven (7) days, he or she will forfeit the prize and another winner will be randomly chosen. This prize is shipped to the winner within 30 days of the promotion closing date.
7. The winners are responsible for any taxes associated with receipt of the prizes. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute the prizes with other prizes of equal or greater value if the prize is not available for any reason.
8. Odds of winning the prizes depend upon the total number of eligible entries received.
9. No purchase or software download is necessary to enter or win. Purchase or software download will not increase your chances of winning.
10. To enter, visit http://safeandsavvy.f-secure.com/2010/10/15/get-sweepstakes-week-5/ and comment on the post. To comment you must provide your email address, which will not be made public. Entries are the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. Comments made be edited by F-Secure without explanation.
11. Any entrant who attempts to cheat or tamper with the Get Real Sweepstakes shall be disqualified by the Sponsor’s sole discretion.
12. The name of the winner will be announced via the F-Secure Twitter channel http://twitter.com/FSecure, F-Secure Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/FSecure and F-Secure’s Safe and Savvy blog http://safeandsavvy.f-secure.com/ once the winner has been contacted. By entering, the entrant agrees that his/her name, country and/or picture can be published at F-Secure’s aforementioned channels if he/she wins.
13. By entering, entrants agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor and all of its representatives from and against any and all costs, expenses, claims, demands, proceedings, suits, actions and/or liabilities for any injuries, death, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with accidents, terrorism, theft, natural disaster, the promotion of the Get Real Sweepstakes, the distribution of any prize, entrants’ participation in and/or entry into the Get Real Sweepstakes, acceptance or use of any prize or unavailability of any prize. Prizes are provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind from the sponsor.
14. Employees of Sponsor and family members of such employees are not eligible to enter.
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CC image by Andres Rueda.
It's been well over a year since the first revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden became public. Though President Obama has called for reforms in his government's mass surveillance polices, the one significant attempt to reform U.S. laws and end "bulk collection" of data-- the USA Freedom Act -- failed in November. And many privacy advocates warned that even that bill was far too limited to do much good or excite the public. With the PATRIOT Act, the law passed in the immediately aftermath of 9/11, up for renewal in 2015, there may be a larger debate about the tactics embraced by the NSA over the last decade and a half coming. But for now, all that has changed is that we are slightly more informed about how governments may be spying on us. Will we just give in to an "aquarium" life and a perverse definition of "privacy"? Watch our Mikko Hypponen's latest talk "The Internet is On Fire" and see if you're ready to grab the microphone. [protected-iframe id="5ce619b9eead69a01a130cf64c867a33-10874323-9129869" info="//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/QKe-aO44R7k?rel=0" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"] How have the Snowden revelations changed your views about privacy? [Image by Josh Hallett via Flickr]
“Sorry for the inconvenience, I'm in Limassol, Cyprus. I am here for a week and I just lost my bag containing all my important items, phone and money at the bus station. I need some help from you. Thanks” Many of you have seen these messages and some of you already know what the name of the game is. Yes, it’s another type of Internet scam, an imposter scam variant. I got this message last week from a photo club acquaintance. Or to be precise, the message was in bad Swedish from Google translate. Here’s what happened. First I got the mail. Needless to say, I never suspected that he was in trouble in Limassol. Instead I called him to check if he was aware of the scam. He was, I wasn’t the first to react. Several others had contacted him before me and some were posting warnings to his friends on Facebook. These scams start by someone breaking in to the victim’s web mail, which was Gmail in this case. This can happen because of a bad password, a phishing attack, malware in the computer or a breach in some other system. Then the scammer checks the settings and correspondence to find out what language the victim is using. The next step is to send a message like the above to all the victim’s contacts. The victim had reacted correctly and changed the Gmail password ASAP. But I wanted to verify and replied to the scam mail anyway, asking what I can do to help. One hour later I got this: “Thanks, I need to borrow about 1000 euros, will pay you back as soon as I get home. Western Union Money Transfer is the fastest option to wire funds to me. All you need to do is find the nearest Western Union shop and the money will be sent in minutes. See details needed WU transfer below. Name: (Redacted) Address: Limassol, Cyprus you must email me the reference number provided on the payment slip as soon as you make the transfer so I can receive money here. Thank you,” Now it should be obvious for everyone how this kind of scam works. Once the scammers get the reference number they just go to Western Union to cash in. Most recipients will not fall for this, but the scammers will get a nice profit if even one or two contacts send money. But wait. To pull this off, the scammers need to retain control over the mail account. They need to send the second mail and receive the reference number. How can this work if the victim had changed his password? This works by utilizing human’s inability to notice tiny details. The scammers will register a new mail account with an address that is almost identical to the victim’s. The first mail comes from the victim’s account, but directs replies to the new account. So the conversation can continue with the new account that people believe belongs to the victim. The new address may have a misspelled name or use a different separator between the first and last names. Or be in a different domain that is almost the same as the real one. The two addresses are totally different for computers, but a human need to pay close attention to notice the difference. How many of you would notice if a mail address changes from say Bill.Gates@gmail.com to BiII_Gates@mail.com? (How many differences do you notice, right answer at the end?) To be honest, I was sloppy too in this case and didn’t at first see the tiny difference. In theory it is also possible that webmail servers may leave active sessions open and let the scammers keep using the hacked account for a while after the password has been changed. I just tested this on Gmail. They close old sessions automatically pretty quickly, but it is anyway a good idea to use the security settings and manually terminate any connection the scammers may have open. I exchanged a couple of mails with this person the day after. He told that the scammers had changed the webmail user interface to Arabic, which probably is a hint about where they are from. I was just about to press send when I remembered to check the mail address. Bummer, the scammer’s address was still there so my reply would not have reached him unless I had typed the address manually. The account’s reply-to was still set to the scammer’s fake account. OK, let’s collect a checklist that helps identifying these scams. If someone asks for urgent help by mail, assume it’s a scam. These scams are a far more common than real requests for help. We are of course all ready to help friends, but are YOU really the one that the victim would contact in this situation? Are you close enough? How likely is it that you are close enough, but still had no clue he was travelling in Cyprus? Creating urgency is a very basic tool for scammers. Something must be done NOW so that people haven't got time to think or talk to others. The scammers may or may not be able to write correct English, but other languages are most likely hilarious Google-translations. Bad grammar is a strong warning sign. Requesting money using Western Union is another red flag. Wire transfer of money provides pretty much zero security for the sender, and scammers like that. Many scammers in this category try to fake an embarrassing situation and ask the recipient to not tell anyone else, to reduce the risk that someone else sees through it. These messages often state that the phone is lost to prevent the recipient from calling to check. But that is exactly what you should do anyway. Next checklist, how to deal with a situation where your account has been hijacked and used for scams. Act promptly. Change the mail account’s passwords. Check the webmail settings and especially the reply-to address. Correct any changed settings. Check for a function in the web mail that terminates open sessions from other devices. Gmail has a “Secure your account” -wizard under the account’s security settings. It’s a good idea to go through it. Inform your friends. A fast Facebook update may reach them before they see the scammer’s mail and prevent someone from falling for it. It also helps raising awareness. And finally, how to not be a victim in the first place. This is really about account security basics. Make sure you use a decent password. It’s easier to maintain good password habits with a password manager. Activate two-factor authentication on your important accounts. I think anyone’s main mail account is important enough for it. Learn to recognize phishing scams as they are a very common way to break into accounts. Maintain proper malware protection on all your devices. Spyware is a common way to steal account passwords. The last checklist is primarily about protecting your account. But that’s not the full picture. Imagine one of your friends falls for the scam and loses 1000 € when your account is hacked. It is kind of nice that someone cares that much about you, but losing money for it is not nice. Yes, the criminal scammer is naturally the primarily responsible. And yes, people who fall for the scam can to some extent blame themselves. But the one with the hacked account carries a piece of responsibility too. He or she could have avoided the whole incident with the tools described above. Caring about your account security is caring about your friends too! And last but not least. Knowledge is as usual the strongest weapon against scams. They work only as long as there are people who don’t recognize the scam pattern. Help fighting scam by spreading the word! Safe surfing, Micke PS. The two mail addresses above have 3 significant differences. 1. The name separator has changed from a dot to an underscore. 2. The domain name is mail.com instead of gmail.com. 3. The two lower case Ls in Bill has been replaced with capital I. Each of these changes is enough to make it a totally separate mail address. Image by Yumi Kimura
Fresh off his latest talk at at TEDxBrussels, our Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen sat down for a little session of "ask me anything" on reddit. You can read all of the questions people had for him and answers here. WARNING: There is a lot to go through. With over 3,200 comment's, Mikko's AMA ranks among one of the more popular threads in the subreddit's history. For a quick taste of what Mikko had to say about artificial intelligence, Tor, and Edward Snowden, here are slightly edited versions of 5 of our favorite questions and answers. How safe are current smart phones and how secure are their connections? - Jadeyard The operating systems on our current phones (and tablets) are clearly more secure than the operating systems on our computers. That's mostly because they are much more restricted. Windows Phones and iOS devices don't have a real malware problem (they still have to worry about things like phishing though). Android is the only smartphone platform that has real-world malware for it (but most of that is found in China and is coming from 3rd party app stores). It is interesting the Android is the first Linux distribution to have a real-world malware problem. Lots of people are afraid of the viruses and malware only simply because they are all over the news and relatively easy to explain to. I am personally more afraid of the silently allowed data mining (i.e. the amount of info Google can get their hands on) and social engineering style of "hacking". How would you compare these two different threats and their threat levels on Average Joes point of view - which of them is more likely to cause some harm. Or is there something else to be more afraid of even more (govermental level hacks/attacks)? - BadTaster There are different problems: problems with security and problems with privacy. Companies like Google and Facebook make money by trying to gather as much information about you as they can. But Google and Facebook are not criminals and they are not breaking the law. Security problems come from criminals who do break the law and who directly try to steal from you with attacks like banking trojans or credit card keyloggers. Normal, everyday people do regularily run into both problems. I guess getting hit by a criminal attack is worse, but getting your privacy eroded is not a laughing matter either. Blanket surveillance of the internet also affects us all. But comparing these threats to each other is hard. Hi, Mikko! Do you subscribe to Elon Musk's statements and conceptions of AI being the single biggest threat to humans? - matti80 Elon is the man. I've always thought of Tony Stark as my role model and Elon is the closest thing we have in the real world. And he's right. Artificial Intelligence is scary. I believe introducing an entity with superior intelligence into your own biosphere is a basic evolutionary mistake. Europol's cybercrime taskforce recently took down over a hundred darknet servers. Did the news shake your faith in TOR? - brain4narchy People use Tor for surfing the normal web anonymized, and they use Tor Hidden Service for running websites that are only accessible for Tor users. Both Tor use cases can be targeted by various kinds of attacks. Just like anywhere else, there is no absolute security in Tor either. I guess the takedown showed more about capabilities of current law enforcement than anything else. I use Tor regularly to gain access to sites in the Tor Hidden Service, but for protecting my own privacy, I don't rely on Tor. I use VPNs instead. In addition to providing you an exit node from another location, VPNs also encrypt your traffic. However, Tor is free and it's open source. Most VPNs are closed source, and you have to pay for them. And you have to rely on the VPN provider, so choose carefully. We have a VPN product of our own, which is what I use. If you ever met Snowden what would be the first question you would ask him? - SaPro19 'What would you like to drink? It's on me.' Cheers, Sandra