Free tool promises to bust a cap in uninvited browser add-ons and other adware
We've praised Bitdefender's Internet Security software on more than one occasion, as it typically performs well in our annual antivirus roundups. The company also offers a free antivirus solution for those who don't need a full fledged security suite, and adding to its pro bono portfolio, Bitdefender just launched a free tool to scan for and rid your system of various kinds of adware.
BitDefender flies in the face of conventional wisdom in more ways than one. Like most security suites, BIS runs the risk of spreading itself too thin by combining antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing, a firewall, parental controls, antispam, and more into a single package. That’s a challenge in and of itself, but BitDefender also attempts to cater to computer users of all skill levels, whether you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate, or expert. A tough challenge, but BitDefender proves up to the task.
According to security firm BitDefender, malware aimed at social networks like Facebook pose the biggest threat for mobile platforms and is as widely spread as malware that targets PCs.
"When data security researchers focus on finding malware specifically designed for mobile platforms, they lose sight of an important mobile platform threat source -- the social network," said George Petre, BitDefender Threat Intelligence Team Leader. "Statistics indicate that malware targeting social networks may be the biggest current threat for mobile devices, and BitDefender can help users stay safe against these types of threats."
Sure it's a self-serving study, but there's still a lesson here. Citing goo.gl statistics, BitDefender points out that one of the URLs used for a recent massive Facebook scam duped a large number of users. One of the URLs making the rounds promised to show users a girl's Facebook status that supposedly got her expelled from school. The simple scam generated 28,672 clicks, and nearly a quarter of those came from mobile platforms.
"Users who clicked on the link -- whether on PC or mobile device -- downloaded a Facebook worm and fell victim to an adword-based money grabbing scheme," BitDefender says.
The furor over Facebook’s lax attitude towards privacy died down as quickly as it began. But BitDefender feels it still isn’t too late to cash in on privacy and security concerns voiced by many Facebook users. The Internet security firm has released a beta version of its new safego Facebook app that performs a security and privacy audit of Facebook accounts for their owners.
"It's clear that a large number of people don't understand how much personal information they're sharing with the world. The BitDefender safego app makes it easy to identify what's shared and make the necessary changes," said Catalin Cosoi, head of the BitDefender Online Threats Lab. "Additionally, we've seen an increasing number of attacks targeted at the 500 million users of Facebook."
According to security firm BitDefender, there's an unsolicited email making the rounds that promises to keep iPad software updated "for best performance, newer features, and security." Follow the provided link, however, and all you'll get is a Backdoor.Bifrose.AADY infection.
The download page looks exactly like the real iTunes site, but rather than update your iTunes software, the malicious code instead injects itself into the explorer.exe process and opens up a backdoor for miscreants to enter your system and take control of your PC, BitDefender warns.
"Moreover, Backdoor.Biforse.AADY attempts to read the keys and serial numbers of the various software installed on the affected computer, while also logging the passwords to the victim's ICQ, Messenger, POP3 email accounts, and protected storage," BitDefender said.
We suspect this isn't the last time malware writers target iPad owners, given that Apple has sold over 600,000 tablets already.
Ever been blindsided by what you thought was love at first sight, but turned out to be just another pretty face? Eventually you find yourself at a crossroads having to decide whether to break things off, or stick around for the fast ride and ignore the flaws.
Such is the position BitDefender puts you in, and you’ll ultimately have to make the same decision. Right off the bat we encountered a couple red flags of things to come, including a somewhat lengthy install time requiring a restart, and mandatory registration in order to activate the license.
Once we got past the initial awkwardness, BitDefender proceeded to sweep us off our feet by tailoring itself to our needs. BitDefender’s configuration wizard asks you to select from four different layouts based on what type of user you are, including Typical, Parent, Gamer, or Custom. Should you later change your mind, you can rerun the wizard with a click of the mouse.
Do you consider yourself a gullible gamer? Maybe you should, based on what security firm BitDefender has to say. According to BitDefender, gamers are 50 percent more likely to receive spam and be the target of phishing attacks.
Why so? Apparently gamers are a bit too gung-ho to add anyone to their friends list in order to have more people to play with.
"Users are more likely to accept spammers in their friends list when they are in a social network than in any other online communication environment," said George Petre, BitDefender threat intelligence team leader.
"This fact brings spam and social engineering schemes closer to the user than any e-mail spam or online scam. Moreover, we have seen that in a social applications environment, users can easily be tricked to add spammers to their profile. Thus, we recommend social gaming aficionados use extreme caution before enlarging their circle of friends."
BitDefender came to its conclusion after creating three false accounts. One of them had no photo and little information, one had a pic with a little bit of info, and one added more detail. BitDefender then signed up to a generic interest group and after one hour, the three profiles had 23, 47, and 53 friends, respectively. Doing the same in a games group, however, netted the profiles 85, 108, and 111 friends.
We suppose one way to protect users from a malware infestation is to prevent Windows from loading in the first place, and that's exactly what BitDefender did, though not on purpose. Borked WIndows installations were the inadvertent result of an overzealous definitions update that mistakenly detected several windows and BitDefender files as infected with Trojan.FakeAlert.5.
"We apologize for the issues that you are experiencing because of an update released today for Windows 64-bit systems," BitDefender told its customers. "The faulty update has been removed and we are quickly working on a fix for the issue experienced by the users that downloaded the update."
BitDefender has since issued a software patch along with instructions on how to apply it if your system refuses to boot. The company also warns that "there have been several 'self help' articles on the Internet that do not fully solve the problem" and is instructing users to only follow BD's official instructions.
We talked to BitDefender about this issue and were told that "due to the fast reaction with a reversed update after the faulty one, there has only been a few hundred machiens that were critically affected; however at this moment many of them have had one-to-one support.