It’s summer holiday season, when people pack up their smartphones and tablets, sunscreen and tank tops and set off for a change of pace. With connected devices it’s never been easier to find one’s way around, record memories, and stay in touch with friends back home.
When traveling it’s convenient to use public WiFi hotspots in places like airports and restaurants, Our Security Advisor Sean Sullivan says that public WiFi networks should be thought of as just that: public.
Because you’re sharing the network with strangers, there’s the risk that someone is using readily available software that snoops on what you’re doing.
“It may feel private because you’re using your personal device, but it’s not,” he says.
Sean advises against doing anything via public WiFi that you wouldn’t want an eavesdropper to know – including logging into accounts with passwords. “I use public WiFi happily for a topic I would discuss with a friend on the metro. Banking, I do at home,” he says.
Here’s a quick look at how people feel about traveling with their devices and how to stay safe online when you’re on the road.
Here are some more tips that will keep you secure wherever you may roam:
• Don’t let your device connect to public WiFi spots automatically.
• Delete out the WiFi access points you’ve used when you arrive home.
• Don’t be logged into apps you don’t need while traveling.
• Check with the establishment you’re at to make sure the network you log onto is really theirs, and not one a snoop has set up to trick you.
• Be aware of your surroundings and anyone who could be trying to peek over your shoulder.
• Use a unique password for each account.
• For laptops, disable file sharing and turn on the firewall, setting it to block incoming connections.
• Use a VPN (virtual private network) if possible, which secures your connection even on public WiFi.
• Use a travel router with a prepaid SIM card for your own personal WiFi network.
• At the very least, watch for the padlock and “https” in the address bar for any site with your personal information. If they’re not there, avoid the site.
• A good general rule: Assume anything you do over public WiFi is part of a public conversation.
[Photo by uros velickovic via Flickr.com]
If you run a Wordpress site, you know that criminals around the world would love to use it to spread malware. Last month, F-Secure Labs spike in "Flash redirectors" that automatically redirect the visitor to a site with the goal of infecting them with malware, in this case the Angler exploit kit. The source was compromised websites -- specifically Wordpress sites. This isn't a new find for the Labs but what is unique is one of the tactics of the attack -- seeking out Wordpress usernames. Why? "After obtaining the username, the only thing that the attacker would need to figure out is the password," Patricia from The Labs explains. "The tool used by the attacker attempted around 1200 passwords before it was able to successfully login." If you happen to have one of those passwords, bam. You site is serving up malware, which is not only harmful to your visitors, it can cost you tons of traffic as Google delists you. Keeping your server and plugins up to date is essential for avoiding most attacks. Beyond that, this attack points to the need to both protect your Wordpress username AND always use a unique, strong password. "Furthermore, in order to defend against this kind of WordPress attack, you should not use a WordPress admin account for publishing anything," Patricia notes. You can also protect your server from enumeration attacks that discover the usernames of your bloggers. To see how to do that, visit our News from the Labs blog. It's pretty amazing what people can figure out about you with just your login and password. But when you're running a website, which can be part or all of your livelihood, the only way to keep from handing criminals the key to your front door is to make sure your password can't be figured out by anyone but you. And turn on two-step authentication if you haven't already. Cheers, Jason
We have a dilemma, and maybe you want to help us. I have written a lot about privacy and the trust relationship between users and software vendors. Users must trust the vendor to not misuse data that the software handles, but they have very poor abilities to base that trust on any facts. The vendor’s reputation is usually the most tangible thing available. Vendors can be split into two camps based on their business model. The providers of “free” services, like Facebook and Google, must collect comprehensive data about the users to be able to run targeted marketing. The other camp, where we at F-Secure are, sells products that you pay money for. This camp does not have the need to profile users, so the privacy-threats should be smaller. But is that the whole picture? No, not really. Vendors of paid products do not have the need to profile users for marketing. But there is still a lot of data on customers’ devices that may be relevant. The devices’ technical configuration is of course relevant when prioritizing maintenance. And knowing what features actually are used helps plan future releases. And we in the security field have additional interests. The prevalence of both clean and malicious files is important, as well as patterns related to malicious attacks. Just to name a few things. One of our primary goals is to guard your privacy. But we could on the other hand benefit from data on your device. Or to be precise, you could benefit from letting us use that data as it contributes to better protection overall. So that’s our dilemma. How to utilize this data in a way that won’t put your privacy in jeopardy? And how to maintain trust? How to convince you that data we collect really is used to improve your protection? Our policy for this is outlined here, and the anti-malware product’s data transfer is documented in detail in this document. In short, we only upload data necessary to produce the service, we focus on technical data and won’t take personal data, we use hashing of the data when feasible and we anonymize data so we can’t tell whom it came from. The trend is clearly towards lighter devices that rely more on cloud services. Our answer to that is Security Cloud. It enables devices to off-load tasks to the cloud and benefit from data collected from the whole community. But to keep up with the threats we must develop Security Cloud constantly. And that also means that we will need more info about what happens on your device. That’s why I would like to check what your opinion about data upload is. How do you feel about Security Cloud using data from your device to improve the overall security for all users? Do you trust us when we say that we apply strict rules to the data upload to guard your privacy? [polldaddy poll=9196371] Safe surfing, Micke Image by balticservers.com
This is the seventh in a series of posts about Cyber Defense that happened to real people in real life, costing very real money. "If I weren’t a lawyer, I probably wouldn’t have survived today”, Kate thought, as she opened a bottle of whiskey. She had earned it. It was a hard day, a disaster. Well, not a total disaster. When she had closed down her law firm and joined Mordor, Inc., she thought she would finally get a little peace of mind… She could not have been more wrong. * * * [The same day, 12 hours earlier] As every morning, she got into her white BMW slightly late and drove to work through the city streets. Caught in the traffic jam, she had time to do the makeup and swipe through some photos on Tinder. “I can't wait to add my skydiving picture and fill in my height,” she thought. “My profile is too polite and too boring. But that's going to change...” A few days ago she had ordered a new parachute. A gift for herself her 50th jump. It was red and went very well with her blonde hair. Unfortunately, the Tinder crowd would have to wait for the parachute picture. As usual, the Post Office was still holding up the package. She spent the first few hours at work doing what she always did. She checked some outstanding contracts, adding comments. Her golden rule: at least one note per page to justify her existence. Then she moved on to writing proposals. This was her favorite task. She could do it quickly, using templates she had dating all the back to law school. Copy-and-paste time. She was finishing adding few words the last sentence of the document when she heard that happy sound indicating that a new e-mail had arrived. FROM: firstname.lastname@example.org TO: email@example.com SUBJECT: Poczta Polska S.A. Order update Your package could not be delivered to the delivery address on October 27, 2015, because no one was at home. In order to obtain information regarding your shipment, click the link. You can pick up the shipment at the nearest Poczta Polska office by presenting the printed ADVICE NOTE: Your ADVICE NOTE WARNING! If the package is not picked up within 7 days, a storage fee will be charged. After another 7 days, the package will be sent to the warehouse in Koluszki and destroyed or auctioned under supervision of a committee. Kind regards, Poczta Polska. "Damn. I should have picked the thing up," she thought. But then she remembered that a few days back the company hired her an assistant. “Wonderful. Someone else will stand in line for me.” She forwarded the message to her assistant, adding one sentence to appropriately prioritize the matter: Yvonne, no one will hold it against you if you can’t pick it up today, but I hope you can go to the post office ASAP. What was Yvonne to do? She set aside the invoices she'd been assigned to pay online when the accountant called in sick and clicked the link to download Kate's claim note. Because ASAP means ASAP. On the page that appeared, she immediately saw a large “View details” button. She clicked again to download the file named awizo.pdf. After saving the file on the disk, she opened it and printed the notice. She locked her computer screen just as IT had instructed her during her orientation. What Yvonne didn't know is she had downloaded an awizo.pdf.pif file. PIF is a very interesting extension. Even if Windows has been configured to display file extensions, the PIF extension does not show up. The icon does not look like a PDF file, but icons are constantly changing. So who knows? It was too late. Her computer was infected. The antivirus did not react because… there was no antivirus. To cut costs, Mordor Inc. had not renewed the license. The company calculated that it will be cheaper to train the employees that “bad file formats that cannot be opened in any circumstances." Still PDF files were allowed… It was almost lunchtime. To get to the post office as soon as possible, Yvonne couldn't let the elevator open for each of the building's 20 floors. She pressed both the “ground floor” and “close the door” buttons and held them down for three seconds. This trick enabled “fast travel mode.” It was often used by security staff to get to the selected floor without stopping. It worked only on elevators made by OTIS, like this one. Before the elevator got to the ground floor, malware known as VBKlip was installed on Yvonne’s computer. It worked in a very simple way. If a bank account number appeared in the infected computer's clipboard, e.g. copied from an invoice, VBKlip changed it into another one. This way the victims were oblivious to the fact that by using copy and paste they were helping online criminals rob them. * * * “Let me explain it again. We don’t have your package and we do not send emails to customers. This is Poczta Polska! Stamps and date-stamps are sacred! Any notice without a stamp is invalid. OK? Now, would you like to buy some Wite-Out or Exorcist Guide magazine? We have also candles”. Yvonne, who had waited in the line for 30 minutes, was not happy. But there was nothing she could do. She got back to the office and finished paying the invoices. An hour later the lights in her office suddenly turned off. * * * “You had a very simple task. Pay the invoices. How tough is that?” In the dark, the CEO looked more threatening than ever. “Rent. That's pretty important, in case you didn't notice. You see, Mrs. Yvonne, it's hard to work without power”. “But...” Yvonne stared, but the CEO would not let her talk. “You will now go down to the building’s manager office and convince the building manager that we didn't mean to deceive him. And promise him that this time we were willing to pay on time. And do it quickly." “But I paid all the invoices… I have confirmations here." Yvonne logged into the bank's website. But after entering the login and password, she saw a message: her computer was likely infected. The bank had cut off access for security reasons. "Hmmm," she said. "One of the accounts she paid must have marked as 'suspicious' by the bank." IT came and quickly confirmed the infection. A quick phone call to the bank dispelled any doubts. The money had already gone and could not be recovered. To make matters worse, in addition to VBKlip, another Trojan had been discovered that targeted credit card numbers. Yvonne had written the company’s credit card data in the text file so she could easily paste it into other sites. The Trojan had located the file, and the credit card number had been immediately put up for sale on the carder forum. The credit limit (PLN 20,000) has been used up in just one hour to purchase electronics... Yvonne was heartbroken. To cover all the losses, it would be PLN 75,000, out of her own pocket. With tears in her eyes, she began searching for similar cases of theft on the online. She wished she had found the article that warned against such attacks and explained how to safely perform money transfers earlier, before it was too late. * * * Kate felt partly responsible for Yvonne’s troubles. After all, she told Yvonne to print the fake mail claim. So she decided to do what lawyers do. After many phone calls to the bank, she obtained information about the accounts and banks the money went to. Another batch of calls ensured that the money was blocked on dummy accounts. It was a matter of time before it would be returned to Mordor’s account. She did not have much trouble recovering the funds from the credit card, either. Kate decided to use an effective, though little-known chargeback procedure offered by banks in cooperation with payment organizations. She simply had to ask an agent to send the appropriate form, in which she would describe the circumstances of the event and indicate fraudulent transactions on the bank statement. After several days, the money would be back in Mordor's account -- but all the whiskey would be gone.