Anti Virus Final Arbiter

Computer Antivirus software continues to be very relevant and necessary these days, despite the fact that social engineering and malware exploits may be more dangerous and numerous. Of course, most antivirus programs these days are combined with other security services [suites] or they do account for the various methods hackers employ to cause trouble, get your information or money. Everyone should use one of the top 4 or 5 rated antivirus programs (Norton, McAfee, ESET etc.) or at least Windows Defender on a PC, if you are on a budget.

But if you get a file or website virus type warning, it is always best to double check or cross reference from VirusTotal.Com. This super useful site allows for uploading files to the site for a quick analysis. Your antivirus would likely quarantine or delete a suspicious file but it is possible a mistake was made, so why not double check? And it is free! Also, any file can be uploaded for a quick ‘virus check’, not just the files giving warning etc. from a scan application. Finally, actual web site addresses can be checked. This can be useful if you are on a site that is acting slow, unusual or one that gives you that weird, uncertain feeling.

Site summary services:

“Any user can select a file from their computer using their browser and send it to VirusTotal. VirusTotal offers a number of file submission methods, including the primary public web interface, desktop uploaders, browser extensions and a programmatic API. The web interface has the highest scanning priority among the publicly available submission methods. Submissions may be scripted in any programming language using the HTTP-based public API.

As with files, URLs can be submitted via several different means including the VirusTotal webpage, browser extensions and the API.

Upon submitting a file or URL basic results are shared with the submitter, and also between the examining partners, who use results to improve their own systems. As a result, by submitting files, URLs, domains, etc. to VirusTotal you are contributing to raise the global IT security level.”

The website:

https://www.virustotal.com/gui/home/upload

Example of a random Windows executable file [from System32 folder] results, below.

This is a safe, standard Windows master boot record related file, called “MBR2GPT”. I know it is safe, but, this is to give a demo of the positive results. If you see a file, any file, that looks suspicious or maybe have never seen before, upload it and see for yourself.

Antivirus Companies Hacked?

In a nutshell: the cybersecurity companies that design software that is intended to protect our computers … got hacked. Therefore, it is fully possible that now the hackers understand the defense mechanisms of the companies that fight cybersecurity, at least at the PC, Mac, workstation level and maybe more. This is not good!

Details are sketchy, as is common with these hacks, and two of the victims [Norton and McAfee] deny any breach, but Trend Micro admits a breach occurred. Although Trend said the hack only affected their “lab”, this does not necessarily make customers feel any better about it, given they are in the CYBERSECURITY industry.

Read about it here

Live Cyber Attack Threat Map

This “Check Point” [or “ThreatCloud”] cyber attack map is mesmerizing. It is a live cyber or hack attack map containing oodles of attack lines that follow live, currently in progress cyber attacks. The threat map lists the time, the attack name [or virus or hack type], the source and the intended victim location: the target.

The attacks are unrelenting and endless and the lines are ongoing in this dynamic situation.

One take away I have is that every country in the world can be a cyber target. Likewise, attack sources seem to come from almost anywhere in the world, although ‘botnets’ [a group of secretly hacked, controlled computers] are likely a major factor in this.

Here is the web address for the live map:

https://threatmap.checkpoint.com/ThreatPortal/livemap.html

Atlanta hit by ransomware attack

This is actually [indirectly] courtesy of the US Government’s NSA, from a few years ago. They actually created the code that exploits Microsoft Servers that face the internet directly.

“It’s been almost a week since the City of Atlanta was hit by a ransomware attack, which encrypted city data and led to the shutdown of some services.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a press conference Monday that the city’s government is working on recovering the network after ransom notes appeared on computer displays on Thursday afternoon. The city has hired local cybersecurity firm SecureWorks to assess the situation.

Reports say the notorious SamSam ransomware was used in the Atlanta attack, which exploits a deserialization vulnerability in Java-based servers. Details of the attack remain largely unknown, but an early investigation may have identified who is behind the attack, said SecureWorks chief executive Michael Cote. Almost a million dollars has been reaped from other businesses that were infected and paid the ransom. It’s not known if Atlanta will pay the ransom.”

Article here.

Backdoor in Captcha Discovered

Nothing to see here, folks …

“Backdoor in Captcha Plugin Affects 300K WordPress Sites”

“The WordPress repository recently removed the plugin Captcha over what initially appeared to be a trademark issue with the current author using “WordPress” [Editors note: the original page has been removed, we’re now linking to a screen shot.] in their brand name.

Whenever the WordPress repository removes a plugin with a large user base, we check to see if it was possibly due to something security-related. Wordfence alerts users when any plugin they are running is removed from WordPress repo as well. At the time of its removal, Captcha had over 300,000 active installs, so its removal significantly impacts many users.”

Incredible analysis in the below link. Nicely done by WordFence.

Full article or Blog here

Equifax Breach or Hack

This is the only link [the first one, below] or site that matters when it comes to the Equifax hack. There are many phishing websites disguising themselves, and reports are coming in that hoax or fake emails are popping into Inboxes. Use caution. ONLY go through Equifax, seeming as though they are the ones who caused the mess. As they likely already have your identity, and then lost it via a hack, you may as well follow the steps off the link below to get yourself courtesy identity theft protection for a few years [that is their penance].

I would even emphasize that you should not take my [or anyone’s] word for it, and double check on Equifax’s website yourself.

https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com

Cross reference with the FTC:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do

This is a wonderful overview of the “Darknet” and the Thor browser.

Darknet 101: Your guide to the badlands of the internet

“Hacked login details. Cybersecurity exploits for hire. Drugs, guns and ammo. If there’s something shady going on online, chances are it’s happening on the darknet.”

Read it Here

New Thinking On Password Changes

I really like this way of thinking outside the box! Some of the old, and current, concepts on password complexity, length, history etc. are being revised. There is some new thinking on the matter, based mainly on trends and analytics Microsoft has done via millions of hack attempts on Azure based resources.

New Microsoft recommendations:

  • “Maintain an 8-character minimum length requirement (and longer is not necessarily better).
  • Eliminate character-composition requirements.
  • Eliminate mandatory periodic password resets for user accounts.
  • Ban common passwords, to keep the most vulnerable passwords out of your system.
  • Educate your users not to re-use their password for non-work-related purposes.
  • Enforce registration for multi-factor authentication.
  • Enable risk based multi-factor authentication challenges.”

Read it here 

Thousands of Hacked Home Routers are Attacking WordPress Sites

Thousands of Hacked Home Routers are Attacking WordPress Sites

Fascinating blog from WordFence, one of the best WordPress firewall out there. They uncovered attacks coming from various countries and regions. The target is home networks. There is a router vulnerability called “Misfortune Cookie” [really] that is being exploited. It appears many home routers are hacked with this vulnerability and they in turn launch attacks. The tricky part here is that the launched attacks are actually small per home router, so detection is difficult.

The really weird thing is that the IPS are coming from all over the place, but attacks from Algeria [!] are increasing dramatically.

Read the WordFence Blog here