Posts Tagged 'virus'

Losing my favourite game…

Zeus

The ‘Gameover Zeus’ malware is threatening computers. Unlike with real Zeus though, you can protect yourself by following some simple internet safety steps.

I imagine there’s a fair chance you’re sitting reading this thinking ‘As this isn’t ancient Greece, there’s little-to-no chance that Zeus will descend from Mount Olympus and attack me today’.

This is usually quite a safe assumption.

Sitting in Bloxwich, or Aldridge, or maybe even Dudley, there’s so little chance that an all-powerful mythological deity is going to suddenly appear and wreak havoc that it’s really not worth worrying about.

Problem is, you might not be as safe from godly thunderbolts as you think.

As the National Crime Agency is warning, we may have around two weeks to protect ourselves from the ‘Gameover Zeus‘ malware that is currently slinking around the internet, creeping its way into people’s computers and causing all sorts of problems.

Often spread by people downloading attachments on apparently legitimate emails, the software then hunts for financial information and may encrypt the user’s own files demanding a ransom for their unlocking.

The good news is that by following some sensible crime prevention tips, you can greatly reduce your chances of being bothered by Zeus and his big beard over the coming weeks -

  • Never open email attachments unless you are absolutely, positively, definitely sure of their source
  • Install some decent anti-virus software, making sure it’s running and up to date
  • You know all those ‘updates are available’ dialogue boxes that you’ve been ignoring? Time to actually click on them and install the latest patches
  • Back up your files – see more here on my previous blog about this

The FBI suspect a Russian national called Evgeniy Bogachev of being behind the malware attacks (if you spot him in Walsall, let me know) but even if they do arrest him after a helicopter assault on his fortified moon base, it’ll still be best practice to follow the above pointers.

By being sensible with your internet safety, there’s no reason for an attack from Zeus to be as unlikely as you thought it was in the first place – be vigilant, check your anti-virus software and help keep the Midlands Zeus-free.

Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone…

Phone fraudsters probably don’t sit in darkened rooms wearing balaclavas when they make their calls claiming to be from Microsoft but even so, how can you beat their scam? (Image from Brand Protect)

Every now and then I notice some odd rumour floating around on the internet about a certain ‘new’ type of crime that the police are apparently warning people about. They’re usually fairly daft, often involving forwarding emails to prevent hackers exploding your hard drive or re-posting warnings on Facebook about rogue gangs of con men roaming around Brownhills, and whenever I catch them I’m happy to step in and clarify that they are silly rumours and nothing more.

This said, occasionally – and I do mean very occasionally – there’ll be some truth behind the warnings. When there is you can expect to see a link back to our own website and some substance to the story better than ‘west midlands police say if u dont repost this msg on2 50 ppll in youre phonebook a chinese crime gang will be able 2 read youre thoughts and steal youre goldfish‘.

You may have heard of phone scams whereby people get a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft. They usually go like this – the concerned ‘Microsoft employee’ will say to their victim that they think there’s a problem with their computer that needs to be fixed.

The victim is persuaded to allow their computer to be remotely accessed, a malicious piece of software is then installed and the software used to show the victim a list of fake infections supposedly eating away at their motherboard.

With the victim worried that their holiday photos are going to be lost, they agree to make a credit card payment to Microsoft for the problem to be solved. The average victim looses £500 this way and even if they refuse to give their credit card details, software is still nestled on their computer recording their private details and sending them off to the scammer.

We have had a couple of incidents of this type of scam taking place in the Walsall area recently, including one over towards Lichfield during which the target was my father. Thinking on his feet and always happy to slam the phone down on cold callers, he didn’t fall for it but unfortunately there are many people who may not react in the same way, especially when they are vulnerable and threatened by a devious fraudster.

For ourselves, prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to scams such as these.

Investigating them can be very difficult, especially when at best enquiries are limited to a suspect phone number and a bank account, both of which can be hidden to prevent the police following leads to the criminal himself.

This isn’t to say that our Economic Crime Unit don’t have access to a range of secret squirrel type devices that can help, but slamming down the phone is the best method of defence.

Like the banks, computer companies are never going to phone you out of the blue asking for personal information. Be suspicious if they do and under no circumstances allow them access to your computer or worse, give out credit card details. Microsoft give the very sensible advice that you should regularly change your passwords, install a firewall and use antivirus software to scan your computer for malicious programs.

I’d also advise keeping a backup of your photos etc which will come in handy not only if you have computer problems but also should the PC itself be stolen.

You can find out more on this type of fraud at the Action Fraud website and if you or someone you know has been a victim of a telephone scam, you can report it through the same website.

Remember though, the best advice I can give is to do what Old Man Stanley did and slam down the receiver. It works rather well!


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