Staying ahead of scammers....

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Location: Australia

Staying ahead of scammers....

Post by Downunder35m »

Did not check much around the world but right now Australia seems to be the primer harvest grounds for all sorts of scammers.

And since almost all of them are "online" these days I thought it might help one or two to know a bit about the problem.

Not so long ago and hackers would have spammed you with dumb Emails in the hope to get your money.
That was replaced for a while with hackers blocking you out of your browser or entires Windows system - pay me and I unlock your computer....
And while this scam still happens the new threats are far more serious, especially if you are running a business.

Spam was once classified as getting unwanted Emails and pop ups in your browser.
And criminals learned how to use backdoors and securtity flaws to iclude malware.
In the beginning it still meant you had to click on a link or such to make things happen.
Not any more :(
Our mobile devices are at as much risk as our computers and laptops.

Today it is common that Emails are loaded in one go, including the malware it comes with.
And simply by opening it things like embedded images from a server trigger the further corruption of a system.
Once used as so called single dot images for just reacking purposes they now can inject code.
And while it is still possible to check for example the header of an Email to verify the sender is genuine - even that is taken from us.
Not even the FBI itself is safe from hackers abusing their mail servers to send out not just prefectly faked Emails but since they actually come from a legit FBI server everyone has to think they are genuine.
What works for the FBI works for literally everything else - you online shopping, taxes, work login....
And identity theft or grabbing your banking passwords might be scary, but how scary is it to realise for an unspecified time you own business systems were spreding malware to your clients and business partners?
Bot nets are what makes the modern scammer tick.
Find a few people through normal spamming that click on your crap and you get infected computers that can be integrated into your criminal network.
And even the experienced user struggles more and more to keep the doors closed and the scammer out.
If you get a genuine looking Email from something that looks like it is a contact of yours already then it is only one click to start doomsday.

How can we prevent the worst on a private level?
We have apps for basically everything, and where we don't we have accounts with a secure loging.
So why again do you click on everything that lands in your inbox? ;)
Take those Emails or notifications as a reminder to only use the corresponding app or direct account login to check it!
News from the taxation office around tax time ?
A fake unless you have it all online already.
If you have it online already then for crying out loud: Log into your tax account, check the inbox there and ONLY if it appears there as well you know it was indeed not a scam attempt.
Don't let convinience disable your security.....
If you use a browser a lot you might have problems avoiding all these pop ups.
Ad blockers are great but fail on many websites as you have to disable them to allow for ads or stay locked out.
Often not in the right spot, disguised by pale colors - but try to find the real "Close" button and never click on anything in an ad!
Love free apps and games on your mobile?
Before you install them ask yourself if it is worth the risk!
A simply game or app does not need to able to call somone, access your location details or gain access to your privte files....
So why install such crap if it needs more permissions granted than your banking app ? ;)
There is no free in the app store....
Online games are fun but many come with unacceptable risks.
-Or do you really check those weird notifications coming up while in the heat of a game ? ;)
Always consider to play OFFLINE......

What about if you get infected?
On a private level you might get away with a factory reset or fresh installation of your operating system with all the rest from scratch.
On a business level you might have backups but no clue when the infection happened and if you still have a clean backup that is recent enough.
Companies now charge small fortunes to check your systems and if infected trying to clean them.
And not always is all your data complete in the end.
If it just an email client on one PC or laptop things are easy.
In a big network environment not any more.
Setting up a mail server from scratch can take days, cleaning the mails from backups and attempting a good integration often weeks.
The only real workaround would be to limited what the bot can ruin.
A good system admin should have no problem converting all Emails into plain text for their content and to link extracted attachments seperately.
It allows to convert those Emails into a little database.
Not the nicest way I agree but one with very little chance for the bot do further damage while still keeping your data.
Infected computers or databases though can be a true pain.
Nothing is worse than overlooking just one injected spread sheet or Word document....
While most documents can be converterted into for exaple PDF without including any embedded code that would still work it is not always feasable.
And a huge databse with the additional code for a bot or malware to spread is VERY hard to clean.
You are required to know what malware is active before you can work out how to remove it - if still possible.
Botnets like the feared Emotet can be active on your system for a long time without you noticing.
In almost all cases a successful removal only works when all systems are OFF.
Meaning to boot from a fresh bootdisk or network drive and then to clean up manually.
For many systems you can download (with a CLEAN computer) rescue and anti malware boot disks.
Working the same from a USB stick.
These can often find a lot of harmful code that is not accessible when the actual system is operating.
And while they might not be able to fix your files they can be able to totally disable the malware, sometimes they can even remove it and clean infected files.
The most important rule for data restauration should be followed though : NEVER WORK ON THE ORIGINAL - ALWAYS WORK WITH A CLONE OF THE AFFECTED DRIVE !
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Re: Staying ahead of scammers....

Post by Orngrimm »

Recently, the "CFO" of a huuuge company (ABB) mailed me i shall check the liquidity of "our" accounts at the bank in the name of the CEO of ABB.
Well... First: i never worked for ABB
Second: I always was an engineer and not a finance-guy so why should I have access to balances of company-accounts?
Third: For gods sake: YOU are the Chief FINANCIAL officer! YOU should have this info if noone else!
Fourth: If the CEO wants something this delicate, maybe, just MAYBE he would ask himself and not letting others do in his name?

Yeah: Common sense...
I should have written back and telling him, he is broke and the accounts i see show 1 US$ only in liquidity... :D
Builder of stuff, creator of things, inventor of many and master of none.
Tinkerer by heart, archer by choice and electronics engineer by trade.
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