Perhaps it should be called the world wild web to more accurately reflect a landscape fraught with danger, at least if you're taking an alarmist point of view. Sometimes it's hard not to. To wit, security outfit ESET said its research team, in collaboration with CERT-Bund, the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing and other leading agencies, uncovered a massive cybercriminal campaign in which a backdoor Trojan was able to hijack more than 25,000 UNIX servers around the world.
Malware writers didn't take a vacation in 2013. Just the opposite, McAfee noted a sharp rise in ransomware, Android malware, suspicious URLs, and other malicious attempts to steal users' data, which the security firm published in its Threat Report for the fourth quarter of 2013. When combining all of its findings across mobile and desktop, security firm McAfee said it detected 200 new threats every minute, or more than three for every second that passed in 2013.
As if worrying about your PC and smartphones weren't enough, now you've got to go on the defensive when it comes to your wireless routers. According to reports from the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center (ISC), customers out of a Wyoming ISP have reported compromised Linksys routers. The culprit? Malware known only as "TheMoon," malicious software that first compromises Linksys routers and then scans for other devices that may very well be vulnerable.
Android is by far the biggest target of mobile malware
Security firm Kaspersky says it has logged 10 million dubious Android applications to date. It comes down to a numbers game for cyber criminals, and since Android is the most popular mobile operating system on the planet -- market research firm Canalys estimates that Android accounted for 80 percent of smartphones shipped in 2013 -- it attracts the most attention from malware writers.
By far the biggest revelation of 2013 was that of the U.S. government's overreaching National Security Agency (NSA) and its PRISM surveillance program. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the government's ability to spy on various forms of communication by leaking several documents to the press, and since doing so, new information keeps coming out. One of the most recent reports claims the NSA routinely intercepts computer deliveries in order to exploit vulnerabilities to aid with spying.
As badly as we all want Rockstar Games to throw us PC gamers a bone and at least confirm that Grand Theft Auto V is being ported over to our platform of choice, there's just no substitute for patience. Unfortunately, impatience can lead to bad decisions, like trying to illegally download a version of a game that doesn't yet exist in hopes that it turns out to be real, only to find out you have a real mess on your hands.
It always feels a little sketchy when an antivirus vendor presents malware statistics and outlines all the growing threats you need to be aware of. While their data might be spot on, the fact that they each have a vested interest in the numbers they're presenting can give skeptics pause. Well, AV-Comparatives doesn't make AV software; it's an independent testing lab and one of the resources we use in our own AV reviews. In its latest report, AV-Comparatives analyzes 16 different mobile security applications to see which ones root out the most malware on smartphones and tablets running Android, as well as their impact on battery life.
For malware writers, everything's a numbers a game. So, the more popular a platform becomes, the more attention cybercriminals will pay to finding vulnerabilities they can exploit. It's really no wonder, then, that McAfee's Threat Report for the second quarter of 2013 noted a rebound in mobile threats, including a 35 percent growth rate in Android-based malware, the likes of which have not been seen since early 2012, the security firm reports.
Windows 8 ships with a new version of Windows Defender that’s supposed to offer the same level of protection as Microsoft Security Essentials. Along with other security upgrades, we’re left wondering if there’s any reason to saddle up with a third-party antivirus program. To find out, we compared Windows Defender with Avast, which as we discovered in last month’s antivirus roundup is a formidable ally to have by your side as you romp around the web.
Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of the magazine.
When the flip did it become so damn difficult to download a program from the Internet? If you've recently tried to grab a screensaver or software utility from the web, you know exactly what we're talking about. Somewhere along the way, the simple act of downloading a program has become anything but easy, even for Internet veterans who aren't easily duped. Many download sites are now designed to test the wits of savvy users and prey on the impatient with link landmines that will blow up your browser with toolbars and other unwanted add-ons. Even worse, you could end up with a malware infection. Should you give up?