When life hands PC gamers lemons – like news that the massive $1.6m Battlefield 3 tourney is console-only – they figure out a way to hack the lemons to bits and make lemonade. In this case, gamers have gained access to 128-player support for the “Operation Metro” map available in the BF3 beta, which isn't offered on the official servers. Don’t necessarily go rushing out to find the action, though; DICE, the makers of the game, thinks the lemonade tastes mighty bitter and they’re threatening to swing the banhammer at anyone who participates in the unsanctioned fun.
Cameron Diaz has toppled Jessica Biel as the most dangerous celebrity to search for on the web, according to security technology leviathan McAfee, which has been publishing an annual list of the most dangerous celebrities in cyberspace since 2007. Diaz's rise to the top spot has been meteoric.
Last year, Cameron Diaz was not even among the top 15 celebrities on McAfee's list. An analogy would be an unseeded player winning a tennis grand slam. According to the study, one in every ten web searches for Cameron Diaz is likely to end up in a visit to a malicious site.
Julia Roberts (second), Jessica Biel (third), Brad Pitt (fifth) and Tom Cruise (eighth) are some of the others big names on the list. Having slipped to the very bottom of the rankings, Barack Obama (49) and Sarah Palin (50) are among the safest people to search for on the internet.
“After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided, per the Android Market Terms of Service, to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup,” Android security lead Rich Cannings wrote in a blog post.
He then went on to tout remote deletion as an integral part of Google's response mechanism against malicious apps: “This remote removal functionality — along with Android’s unique Application Sandbox and Permissions model, Over-The-Air update system, centralized Market, developer registrations, user-submitted ratings, and application flagging — provides a powerful security advantage to help protect Android users in our open environment.”
It is conspicuous from the timing of this revelation that Google is trying to offset any harm that SMobile's claims may have done. But the Ohio-based security firm remains firm and is unlikely to do a volte-face.
Microsoft has acknowledged that it is aware of a zero-day vulnerability in the HCP protocol. It learned about the threat on June 5, 2010 from Google security engineer Tavis Ormandy, who barely waited four more days before making the details of the threat public, complete with his proof-of-concept exploit code.
Microsoft took a dim view of Ormandy’s eagerness to make a public disclosure. “Public disclosure of the details of this vulnerability and how to exploit it, without giving us time to resolve the issue for our potentially affected customers, makes broad attacks more likely and puts customers at risk,” wrote Mike Reavey, director of the Microsoft Security Response Center, in a blog post.
Reavey also criticized Ormandy for not being thorough in his analysis: “It turns out that the analysis is incomplete and the actual workaround Google suggested is easily circumvented.”
The vulnerability is known to affect Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 only. Microsoft is currently working on a fix. In the interim, users can protect themselves by unregistering the HCP protocol as described in Microsoft Security Advisory 2219475.
If you've been worrying about computer security for awhile, you might remember when macro viruses in Microsoft Word and Excel files were at the top of the exploit list. These file formats, along with the omnipresent Adobe Reader PDF format, are once again among the biggest threat vectors being exploited by today's malware, according to a new report from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center. Fittingly, the full report and a condensed key findings version are available in either PDF or Microsoft's own XPS formats. These reports cover the July-December 2008 period.
Some key findings include:
Scareware (which Microsoft calls "rogue security software") is on the rise, including the latest versions of our old friend Antivirus XP.
A slight reduction in unique vulnerability disclosures from 2007, but the High (most serious) category was larger in the second half of 2008 than in the first half of the year or the second half of 2007.
Applications continue to be the biggest target (86.7%, with browsers at 8.8%, and operating systems at only 4.5%)
After Obama’s website, black hats have now managed to sow the seeds of deceit in Google video search results. Security firm Trend Micro has discovered that that about 400,000 queries trigger Google Video search results that “have a single redirection point, and one that eventually leads to malware download and execution.” The black hats have been able to manipulate search results to their advantage using simple SEO techniques. For this purpose, they have reserved several domains and populated them with keywords.
According to Trend Micro, the malware executable, dubbed WORM_AQPLAY.A, proliferates using removable and network drives. The malware executable is disguised as an Adobe Flash installer. The malware only prompts the user to download the malicious Flash installer when he reaches one of the malefic video websites being run by the black hats.
Online scammers have contrived an ingenuous way to ride Obama’s rampant wave of popularity. According to Websense Security Labs, certain unscrupulous elements have registered several accounts on my.barackobama.com, the social network on Obama’s website that affords all standard social networking features to users, including personal profiles, groups and blogs.
The charlatans created various accounts on the website and planted a hideous Youtube image with the message, “click here to see movie.” Users who click on the image mistaking it for a Youtube video are redirected instead to a website, which resembles Youtube, but appears to be fraught with pornographic content.
However, when a user proceeds to view one of the videos the website asks the user to download a missing video codec. In its stead is downloaded a Trojan. Further proof of Obama's widespread popularity.
It issued the warning on its website, in what appears to be a less-frequented section, and opted against directly contacting the users. The company began its statement by downplaying the security breach: “as is the case with many companies that maintain large databases of information, Monster is the target of illegal attempts to access and extract information from its database.”
It claims to have taken the necessary “corrective steps” immediately after discovering the security breach. It has asked users to reset their passwords on their own, though they will eventually be forced to make the change. The company says that the exposed data includes user IDs and passwords, email addresses, names, phone numbers, and some basic demographic data. Resumes and sensitive data is said to be safe.
Monster.com has also advised users that they need to be more vigilant and watch out for specious emails claiming to be from the company.
Internet shenanigans are keeping abreast with the latest developments around the world and using it to their advantage. An email doing the rounds around the internet hoodwinks the recipient into believing that it is from CNN. The clandestine email ostensibly contains a link to a “graphic” video of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. However, it leads to a fake website that contains a Trojan that betrays the user’s sensitive data, according to the RSA.
The author of the phishing attack has tried to make the website as plausible as possible. Upon visiting the link, the user is greeted with a message asking him to update his Adobe Flash Player. If the user lends his countenance to the download, a Trojan is downloaded instead of the latest version of Flash
The reports of the vulnerability first surfaced after researcher Laurent Gaffie detailed the alleged threat and furnished the proof-of-concept code to make his case. Gaffie’s decision to go public with his findings without informing Microsoft hasn’t gone down well with the company.
After investigating the claims Microsoft acknowledged, in a blog post, that the proof-of-concept code does force WMP to crash but it can not be used for remote code execution.