Posts Tagged With: Virus

If There’s a RAT in Your Laptop, You Won’t Know Who’s Watching You….


It sounds like a virtual haunting, and it happens on your computer. File folders go missing. The mouse curser starts roaming around on its own. Pop up messages appear for no particular reason. The laptop shuts down without a command. After it restarts, the webcam light is on. But if you’re not using the computer in genreal, and the camera in particular, who is?
If you’re lucky your computer has viruses; if you’re not so lucky, your PC may have a RAT problem. A RAT infestation can lead to a whole new level of privacy violation.
Remote access tools (RATs) were developed to allow users to access their PCs away from the office—think advanced telecommuting—but a new generation of hackers is developing increasingly advanced RAT software that allows them to take over a computer owned by an innocent target—think you—and make it their “slave.” Once they’re in, they can spy on you through the webcam and listen into your conversations on the microphone, effectively turning your computer into a one-way mirror into your life.

“People would not have a clue it’s been installed on their PC as the methods now are getting more and more advanced,” says Black Shadow, a hacker contacted by TakePart through Hack Forums, a bulletin board. “Hackers use them for a few reasons: to spy on a person, to steal from their accounts, to build up a bot-net for DDS [distributed denial-of-service] attacks, or just for fun, to be nosy.”
A YouTuber who goes by the handle DaSheepherder posted a video on Hack Forums some 15 months ago complaining he’d been RATted by one of the members of the forum. “Whoever did it just deleted everything,” he said. “I have got, like, nothing, nothing left. All my intros and all my upcoming videos have been deleted. I’ll have to start from scratch making the intros and all that.”
Black Shadow saw the post and says he helped DaSheepherder retrieve the deleted files. “I cleaned up his PC, got rid of the RAT for him,” he wrote on Hack Forums. “[A]fter the kid I helped got hacked, I wanted to find a way to stop them, so I have produced a RAT Firewall. [N]ow it’s time to help people defend themselves.”
To detect a RAT takeover, says Black Shadow, “Look at your startup items. It will show [up] there for sure, unless it’s been programmed into the memory, then it will not be visible.
“Look at your task-manager at running processes, most RATS are set to run from these, it will always run from user name.”
And always, he says, “Check for your webcam light if it’s on.”
The snoop, and the consequences, coming from the other end of that webcam can be far more serious than losing a fledgling YouTube inventory if you’re living in a country embroiled in political unrest, insurrection or civil war.
Karim Taymour, a Syrian activist, told a reporter from Bloomberg that after he was arrested by the Assad regime, his interrogators showed him a “stack of more than 1,000 pages detailing his conversations and electronic files exchanged on Skype,” according to Reporters Without Borders.
“My computer was arrested before I was,” Taymour said.
In its annual “Enemies of the Internet” report released March 12, Reporters Without Borders found that “Internet content filtering is growing, but Internet surveillance is growing even more. Censors prefer to monitor dissidents’ online activities and contacts rather than try to prevent them from going online.”
Oppressive governments are like RATters: They like to watch.

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Categories: Identity Theft Protection, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

WARNING..NEW RANSOM VIRUS….For PC Virus Victims, Pay or Else


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Kidnappers used to make ransom notes with letters cut out of magazines. Now, notes simply pop up on your computer screen, except the hostage is your PC.
In the past year, hundreds of thousands of people across the world have switched on their computers to find distressing messages alerting them that they no longer have access to their PCs or any of the files on them.
The messages claim to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some 20 other law enforcement agencies across the globe or, most recently, Anonymous, a shadowy group of hackers. The computer users are told that the only way to get their machines back is to pay a steep fine.
And, curiously, it’s working. The scheme is making more than $5 million a year, according to computer security experts who are tracking them.
The scourge dates to 2009 in Eastern Europe. Three years later, with business booming, the perpetrators have moved west. Security experts say that there are now more than 16 gangs of sophisticated criminals extorting millions from victims across Europe.
The threat, known as ransomware, recently hit the United States. Some gangs have abandoned previously lucrative schemes, like fake antivirus scams and banking trojans, to focus on ransomware full time.
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Sometimes victims get a message accusing them of breaking the law and demanding a fine. (Courtesy: NYTimes)
Essentially online extortion, ransomware involves infecting a user’s computer with a virus that locks it. The attackers demand money before the computer will be unlocked, but once the money is paid, they rarely unlock it.
In the vast majority of cases, victims do not regain access to their computer unless they hire a computer technician to remove the virus manually. And even then, they risk losing all files and data because the best way to remove the virus is to wipe the computer clean.
It may be hard to fathom why anyone would agree to fork over hundreds of dollars to a demanding stranger, but security researchers estimate that 2.9 percent of compromised computer owners take the bait and pay. That, they say, is an extremely conservative estimate. In some countries, the payout rate has been as high as 15 percent.
That people do fall for it is a testament to criminals’ increasingly targeted and inventive methods. Early variations of ransomware locked computers, displayed images of pornography and, in Russian, demanded a fee — often more than $400 — to have it removed. Current variants are more targeted and toy with victims’ consciences.
Researchers say criminals now use victims’ Internet addresses to customize ransom notes in their native tongue. Instead of pornographic images, criminals flash messages from local law enforcement agencies accusing them of visiting illegal pornography, gambling or piracy sites and demand they pay a fine to unlock their computer.
Victims in the United States see messages in English purporting to be from the F.B.I. or Justice Department. In the Netherlands, people get a similar message, in Dutch, from the local police. (Some Irish variations even demand money in Gaelic.) The latest variants speak to victims through recorded audio messages that tell users that if they do not pay within 48 hours, they will face criminal charges. Some even show footage from a computer’s webcam to give the illusion that law enforcement is watching.
The messages often demand that victims buy a preloaded debit card that can be purchased at a local drugstore — and enter the PIN. That way it’s impossible for victims to cancel the transaction once it becomes clear that criminals have no intention of unlocking their PC.
The hunt is on to find these gangs. Researchers at Symantec said they had identified 16 ransomware gangs. They tracked one gang that tried to infect more than 500,000 PCs over an 18-day period. But even if researchers can track their Internet addresses, catching and convicting those responsible can be difficult. It requires cooperation among global law enforcement, and such criminals are skilled at destroying evidence.
Charlie Hurel, an independent security researcher based in France, was able to hack into one group’s computers to discover just how gullible their victims could be. On one day last month, the criminals’ accounting showed that they were able to infect 18,941 computers, 93 percent of all attempts. Of those who received a ransom message that day, 15 percent paid. In most cases, Mr. Hurel said, hackers demanded 100 euros, making their haul for one day’s work more than $400,000.
That is significantly more than hackers were making from fake antivirus schemes a few years ago, when so-called “scareware” was at its peak and criminals could make as much as $158,000 in one week.
Scareware dropped significantly last year after a global clampdown by law enforcement and private security researchers. Internecine war between scareware gangs put the final nail in the coffin. As Russian criminal networks started fighting for a smaller share of profits, they tried to take each other out with denial of service attacks.
Now, security researchers are finding that some of the same criminals who closed down scareware operations as recently as a year ago are back deploying ransomware.
“Things went quiet,” said Eric Chien, a researcher at Symantec who has been tracking ransomware scams. “Now we are seeing a sudden ramp-up of ransomware using similar methods.”
Victims become infected in many ways. In most cases, people visit compromised Web sites that download the program to their machines without so much as a click. Criminals have a penchant for infecting pornography sites because it makes their law enforcement threats more credible and because embarrassing people who were looking at pornography makes them more likely to pay. Symantec’s researchers say there is also evidence that they are paying advertisers on sex-based sites to feature malicious links that download ransomware onto victims’ machines.
“As opposed to fooling you, criminals are now bullying users into paying them by pretending the cops are banging down their doors,” said Kevin Haley, Symantec’s director of security response.
More recently, researchers at Sophos, a British computer security company, noted that thousands of people were getting ransomware through sites hosted by GoDaddy, the popular Web services company that manages some 50 million domain names and hosts about five million Web sites on its servers.
Sophos said hackers were breaking into GoDaddy users’ accounts with stolen passwords and setting up what is known as a subdomain. So instead of, say, http://www.nameofsite.com, hackers would set up the Web address blog.nameofsite.com, then send e-mails to customers with the link to the subdomain which — because it appeared to come from a trusted source — was more likely to lure clicks.
Scott Gerlach, GoDaddy’s director of information security operations, said it appeared the accounts had been compromised because account owners independently clicked on a malicious link or were compromised by a computer virus that stole password credentials. He advised users to enable GoDaddy’s two-step authentication option, which sends a second password to users’ cellphones every time they try to log in, preventing criminals from cracking their account with one stolen password and alerting users when they try.
One of the scarier things about ransomware is that criminals can use victims’ machines however they like. While the computer is locked, the criminals can steal passwords and even get into the victims’ online bank accounts.
Security experts warn to never pay the ransom. A number of vendors offer solutions for unlocking machines without paying the ransom, including Symantec, Sophos and F-Secure. The best solution is to visit a local repair shop to wipe the machine clean and reinstall backup files and software.
“This is the new Nigerian e-mail scam,” Mr. Haley said. “We’ll be talking about this for the next two years.”

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5 Meningitis Facts You Need to Know……


The outbreak of fungalmeningitis tied to steroid shots for back pain has grown to include 91 cases in nine states, health officials said yesterday. Here are five things you should know about meningitis and this outbreak.
What causes meningitis?
Meningitis is a swelling or inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (which are called the meninges). A number of things can cause meningitis. Usually the swelling is caused by an infection with a virus or bacteria, but it can also be caused by infection with a fungus or parasite. Head injuries, brain surgery and some cancers can also cause meningitis.
When meningitis is caused by a virus or bacteria, it can spread from person to person. However, meningitis caused by a fungus is not contagious. People affected by the current outbreak of fungal meningitis became ill after injections of a steroid drug contaminated with fungus were administered into their spines.
People who have received a steroid injection shot for back pain since May 21 should talk to their doctor as soon as possible if they have experienced any of the following symptoms: new or worsening headache, fever, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, slurred speech, new weakness or numbness in any part of your body, or increased pain, swelling or redness at the injection site.
Why are steroids given for back pain?
Steroid shots are sometimes used to treat lower back pain, such as pain caused by swelling (inflammation) around compressed nerves in lower back. The rationale for the therapy is that steroids reduce inflammation, and so they may help with the pain. However, evidence that these injections work to reduce lower back pain has been mixed. A study published last year found the drugs work no better than a placebo.
Why is the number of cases still increasing?
The rising number of cases in themeningitis outbreak does not mean doctors are still using the tainted drugs. Symptoms take one to four weeks to appear, so some people who received shots prior to the recall may still develop meningitis. In other cases, people may have fallen sick sometime in the past several months after receiving an injection, but doctors are now better able to identify the cause of their illnesses.
Are people who received steroid shots to treat something other than back pain affected by the outbreak?
So far, the only people who have fallen ill in the meningitis outbreak received the steroid shots in their spine as treatment for lower back pain. However, the recalled steroid drugs were also used in other ways, such as injections into joints to treat joint pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Patients who received other types of injections with the recalled products may also be at risk, the CDC says.
How can I find out if the medication I received is part of the recall?
All of the facilities that received the potentially contaminated steroid shots, made by the New England Compounding Center (NECC), have been listed by the CDC.
In addition to the contaminated steroid shots, all products made by the NECC are also being recalled. A full list of the recalled productswas released by the company.
Patients who are concerned they may have been treated with any of the recalled products should speak with their health care provider.

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New ‘Heartland’ Virus Discovered in Sick Missouri Farmers….


Two men in Missouri who became severely ill after sustaining tick bites were found to be infected with a new type of virus, according to a study from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Both men were admitted to hospitals after experiencing high fevers, fatigue, diarrhea and loss of appetite. They were originally thought to be suffering from a bacterial infection, but doubts arose when they didn’t improve after being treated with antibiotics.

Further tests revealed their blood contained a new virus, which the researchers dubbed the Heartland virus. It belongs to a group called phleboviruses, which are carried by flies, mosquitoes or ticks, and can cause disease in humans.

While the genetic material of Heartland virus appears similar to that of other phleboviruses, the particular proteins it produces are different enough to call it a new species, said study researcher Laura McMullan, a senior scientist at the CDC.

Because the Heartland virus causes such general symptoms, it could be “a more common cause of human illness than is currently recognized,” the researchers wrote in the Aug. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

More studies are needed to identify the natural hosts of the virus, learn how many people are infected with it and find risk factors for infection, McMullan said.

Because both men experienced tick bites shortly before they became ill — one man, a farmer, reported receiving an average of 20 tick bites a day — the researchers said it’s likely that the Heartland virus is spread by ticks, although more research is needed to confirm this.

The new virus’s closest relative is another tick-borne phlebovirus, called SFTS virus, which was identified last year in China, and causes death in 12 percent of cases.

The Missouri men, who were both infected in 2009, recovered after 10 to 12 days in the hospital, although one of the men has reported recurrent headaches and fatigue in the two years since his hospitalization.

The researchers suspect a species of tick commonly found in Missouri, called Amblyomma americanum, is one of the hosts of the Heartland virus.

For now, taking precautions to prevent tick bites is the best way to avoid the virus, McMullan said. To prevent tick bites, the CDC recommends using repellents that contain 20 percent or more DEET, as well as avoiding wooded areas or areas with high grass.

Pass it on: The Heartland virus is a new species of virus that can cause severe illness in people, and appears to be carried by ticks.

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#1 Rated…Protect yourself today….


What is SpyHunter and How Does it Work? SpyHunter is a powerful, real-time anti-spyware application certified by West Coast Labs’ Checkmark Certification System and designed to assist the average computer user in protecting their PC from malicious threats. SpyHunter is automatically configured to give you optimal protection with limited interaction, so all you need to do is install it for immediate and ongoing protection.

As malware continues to evolve and become more sophisticated to avoid detection by anti-spyware/anti-virus programs, SpyHunter responds with advanced technology to stay one step ahead of today’s malware threats. SpyHunter offers additional customization capabilities to ensure every user is able to custom tailor SpyHunter to fit their specific needs.

SpyHunter has the ability to detect and remove rootkits, which are used to stealth install rogue anti-spyware programs and other trojans.

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