Articles: AntiVirus etc

Password security – have you been hacked?

Many major companies have had their databases hacked and info stolen (eg Adobe, various banks and credit companies, govt agencies).

How do you know if you are on a hacked list that is now public?

We have found a site that checks against the main known hacked lists and tells you if you are on them.

The site is https://haveibeenpwned.com/

As far as I can see from checking and reading about it, it is a safe site to use but make your own decision (we checked it and we are there for the Adobe hacked list – we have registered Adobe products previously).

Ransomware Hacking

The latest hacking trend seems to be to hijack your computer, then encrypt your files so you can’t read them. Then demand a ransom to un-encrypt them. This can be from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

see http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11550094

And of course if you pay up once they may do it to you again or not fix them for you.

Regularly backing up your data is the best protection! Do you do that?

Also run reliable, regularly updated Antivirus and security software.

Search for “protection from ransomware” for information about how to prevent it happening to you.

Hacking of sites

We know of a surprising number of sites that have been hacked lately. Sites built using WordPress are the most commonly targeted as they have numerous “plug-ins” that may be vulnerable. But the hacking we have seen has been with a range of different Content Management Systems and different developers. No one is immune.

What really surprised us is the shocking response of several of the developers to being informed of it.
One large NZ developer who also host the clients’ sites has told at least 3 of their clients that it was their fault because their site was hosted on an out of date server. And that it would cost $500 to migrate their site plus the cost of fixing the hack. Continue reading

Microsoft XP Support finished

Most users will know that from April 8 2014, support and updates for Windows XP are no longer available. The XP operating system has reached the end of it’s Support life from Microsoft.

This has largely been communicated in such a way as to “encourage” Windows XP users to upgrade to a new computer.

But what does this actually mean?

Your computer will not suddenly stop because of this!

New programmes you install may not be compatible with Windows XP

There could be some security issues that Microsoft will not be fixing with automatic updrades.

However, on the whole, if your XP computer still works fine, and you have good security software installed, you should be OK to continue using it.

As always, be vigilant about having up to date Antivirus and security software and strong regularly changed passwords. See our articles on passwords at

http://www.netaction.co.nz/internet-security/passwords/

WordPress and Joomla Pharma Hack

We know of several sites that have been hit with the Pharma Hack, which can affect WordPress, and Joomla sites. Bad plugins, dodgy themes and outdated versions of WordPress or Joomla can increase your risk.

Malicious code is hacked into your WordPress or Joomla installation that makes Google display your results as viagra and other pharmaceutical titles. It creates many additional bad virtual pages.

eg

can buy viagra uk – Your Site title
www.yoursite.co.nz/?info=can-buy-viagra -uk

three tabs viagra Your Site title
www.yoursite.co.nz/?info=all-three-tabs-viagra

Buy Purchase viagra Over The Counter Without Prescription …
yoursite.co.nz/location.asp?loc=42

We know of one site with around 20,000 of these malicious and non existent pages listed by Google.

The malicious code is very hard to find and may be present in up to 50 files (or more) on your site. Removal of the code is hard because it is hard to detect where it actually is.

Clean up of your site may involve de-indexing it in Google or reinstalling your site completely from a backup.

Only search results are affected, your actual site pages are not compromised. But if Google thinks your site is hacked, they may penalise it anyhow.

In order to see if your site is affected, go to Google, and in the search box, type “site” followed by a colon, then your domain name followed by a space, then “viagra” and finally hit the search button.

eg site:yourdomain.co.nz viagra

To minimise any disruption if you do get hacked, make sure you or your developer has a recent, restorable backup of your full site installation.

Did I say? Make sure you or your developer has a clean backup!

And as in recent articles, make sure you have secure passwords!

If you have been hacked, get in touch with your developer in the first instance.

Some more information is available at http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/pharma-hack or search for “Pharma hack”

McAfee Security Software Name Change

McAfee Security Software (antivirus etc) is changing its name this year to Intel Security.

Intel acquired McAfee for $7.7 billion and seem to be keen to disassociate themselves from the notoriously controversial John McAfee, original founder of the company.

John McAfee’s reaction to the name change was’

“I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet. These are not my words, but the words of millions of irate users. My elation at Intel’s decision is beyond words.”

No love lost between those two parties!!

(The other two major anti virus / security software suites are Symantec Norton Security and AVG Internet Security. There are others too.)

Smartphone security

There was a good article in the NZ Herald talking about how most people are aware of security on their computer but not on their mobile phone or tablet.

If you are browsing or downloading on your mobile, do you have antivirus and security software installed?

The article talks about this and how all of the information on your mobile (like contact lists, credit card numbers) may be freely available to Google, Apple, Facebook, hackers or application providers. If you have accepted installation terms and conditions for an app you may have consented to give away your privacy. You can read the full Herald article here:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=11207471

Apple dominate the mobile market followed by Samsung – apparently 2/3 rds of Americans will have an Apple Phone (or their latest device) by 2017. Hopefully there will always be good alternatives and Apple will not come to so totally dominate the way Google now does in the search market.