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Don’t Let Cybercriminals Ruin Christmas, Says ESET



Guest written by: ESET

For many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year – but find oneself a victim of an online attack and the season may turn sour. With spirits and internet usage at an all-time high there’s no better time to lure a victim online – but don’t worry; ESET’s gift to its users this Christmas is the gift of knowledge, as we share defenses against these 12 threats.

  1. Phishing: It may be the season of goodwill but that’s certainly not the case when it comes to cybercriminals. Phishing attacks usually occur via email and see users receive an authentic-looking email from a bank or organization luring them to enter their personal details on a similarly authentic-looking website.
  2. Adware: You may have noticed that after you search for an item online, it starts to pop up on other websites you visit. This is known as adware, and is customized for users and may be monitored by spyware. While one may think these adverts are there to remind users to complete their Christmas shopping, the innocence of the pop-up is questionable.
  3. Mobile Malware: If there’s one piece of technology that gets a lot of usage of the festive period, it’s the mobile phone. Unfortunately, it’s no safer than desktops or tablets thanks to the rise in mobile malware. As Lukáš Stefanko, malware researcher at ESET, recently said: “Mobile malware is a huge problem. [Because] users have more personal and sensitive information on their smart devices, including text messages, contacts, photos, emails etc, [they are increasingly under threat].”
  4. Smishing: Most of us are aware of phishing attempts over email but what about phishing attempts over SMS? Typically, one will receive an SMS apparently from a trusted source – like Apple or a friend – advising users to click on a link and enter personal details. However, that SMS is forged and not from that trusted source at all.
  5. Identity Theft: Busy sharing all of festive plans and holiday travel online? Think before it is posted. Simple details about one’s lifestyle can allow a cybercriminal to gather personal information and even trick users into giving out more. Social media websites are a gold mine of information for identity thieves.
  6. Spyware: He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake … It’s not Santa Claus we’re talking about, it’s the cybercriminals behind spyware – secretly installed malware often installed after a file is downloaded or pop-up is clicked. Spyware can monitor users’ keystrokes, read files, access applications and more – transmitting all the information back to the person that controls the spyware.
  7. Spam: If shoppers been busy ordering all their Christmas gifts online, they may find themselves receiving even more unwanted emails than usual. Most of us receive spam, and although it’s not always something to worry about, it can be used to send malware.
  8. Pharming: Like phishing, pharming is a type of online fraud but doesn’t require user to click on a bogus link sent via email. Instead, a user is redirected to a malicious site – despite having typed the correct web address. This year, up to 40,000 Tesco Bank users became victim to pharming attacks and 20,000 had their money stolen.
  9. Ransomware: With the rocketing costs of Christmas, ransomware is one type of malware one won’t want to be faced with this December. It’s a type of malware where cybercriminals encrypt a device/information, demanding victims pay to have their devices/information returned to them.
  10. Wi-Fi Eavesdropping: Doing a spot of festive shopping at a local coffee shop? Remember that not all internet connections are secured – which is to say encrypted – and that someone may be listening in and collecting your information. When transmitting payment details across unsecured networks, they can end up in the wrong hands.
  11. DDoS Attacks: A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack can take the fun out of things like online shopping and gaming as it makes a service unavailable after flooding it with traffic from multiple sources. DDoS attacks have been cited as stealing Christmas for many – especially in 2014, after knocking PlayStation Networking and Xbox Live offline.
  12. Password Security: The importance of a secure password has never been greater. Cybercriminals crack passwords for so many reasons – whether it’s to gather personal information about user or to commit fraud. If users receive a new device this Christmas, make sure to replace the default password with one that’s more complex.

While there are plenty of threats to be aware of, sensible online behavior and a cautious attitude will help ensure all that the yuletide celebrations run as planned.

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Expert Speak

How Scammers Subscribe Mobile Users to Unwanted Paid Services



With an ever growing number of smartphone users, the development of mobile applications has become a booming industry. Today there are millions of apps, helping users with almost every c of their everyday life – from entertainment to banking and billing. With this in mind, cybercriminals are working hard to develop their own apps and benefit from unsuspecting users.

Kaspersky researchers have observed fraudsters actively spreading Trojans, which secretly subscribe users to paid services, disguised as various different mobile apps, including popular games, healthcare apps and photo editors. Most of these Trojans request access to the user’s notifications and messages, so that the fraudsters can then intercept messages containing confirmation codes.

Users aren’t knowingly subscribing to these services but are, rather, falling victim to carelessness. For instance, a user fails to read the fine print and, before they know it, they’re paying for a horoscope app. These victims often don’t realize these subscriptions exist until their mobile phone account runs dry earlier than expected.

According to Kaspersky researchers, the most widely spread Trojans that sign users up to unwanted subscriptions are:

Trojans from the Trojan.AndroidOS.Jocker family can intercept codes sent in text messages and bypass anti-fraud solutions. They’re usually spread on Google Play, where scammers download a legitimate app from the store, add malicious code to it and then re-upload it under a different name. In most cases, these trojanized apps fulfill their purpose and the user never suspects that they’re a source of threat.

So far in 2022, Jocker has most frequently attacked users in Saudi Arabia (21.20%), Poland, (8.98%) and Germany (6.01%).

MobOk is considered the most active of the subscription Trojans with more than 70% of mobile users encountering these threats. MobOk Trojan is particularly notable for an additional capability that, in addition to reading the codes from messages, enables it to bypass CAPTCHA. MobOK does this by automatically sending the image to a service designed to decipher the code shown .

Since the beginning of the year, MobOk Trojan has most frequently attacked users in Russia (31.01%), India (11.17%) and Indonesia (11.02%).

Vesub Trojan is spread through unofficial sources and imitates popular games and apps, such as GameBeyond, Tubemate, Minecraft, GTA5 and Vidmate. This malware opens an invisible window, requests a subscription and then enters the code it intercepts from the victim’s received text messages. After that the user is subscribed to a service without their knowledge or consent.

Most of these apps lack any legitimate functionality. They subscribe users as soon as they are launched while victims just see a loading window. However, there are some examples, such as a fake GameBeyond app, where the detected malware is actually accompanied by a random set of functional games.

Two out of five users who encountered Vesub were in Egypt (40.27%). This Trojan family has also been active in Thailand (25.88%) and Malaysia (15.85%).

Unlike the Trojans mentioned above, this one does not subscribe victims to a third-party service – instead it uses its own. Users end up subscribing to one of these services by simply not reading the user agreement carefully. For example, there are apps that have recently spread intensively on Google Play, offering to tailor personal weight-loss plans for a token fee. Such apps contain small print mentioning a subscription fee with automatic billing. This means money will be deducted from the user’s bank account on a regular basis without needing any further confirmation from the user.

“Apps can help us stay connected, fit, entertained and generally make our lives easier. There are multiple mobile apps appearing every day, for every taste and purpose – unfortunately, cybercriminals are using this to their advantage. Some of the apps are designed to steal money by subscribing users to unwanted services. These threats are preventable, which is why it’s important to be aware of the signs that give away Trojanized apps. Even if you trust an app, you should avoid granting it too many permissions. Only allow access to notifications for apps that need it to perform their intended purposes, for example, to transfer notifications to wearable devices. Apps for something like themed wallpapers or photo editing don’t need access to your notifications,” explains Igor Golovin, security expert at Kaspersky.

Here’s what you need to do, to stay protected:

  • Keeping your guard up when installing apps from Google Play. Read the reviews, research the developer, terms of use and payment details. For messaging, choose a well-known app with positive reviews.
  • Checking the permissions of the apps you’re using and thinking carefully before granting additional permissions.
  • Using a reliable security solution to help detect malicious apps and adware before they achieve their goals.
  • Updating your operating system and any important apps as and when updates become available. Many safety issues can be solved by installing the updated versions of software.
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Three Most Dangerous Types of Android Malware



Written by Lukas Stefanko, Malware Researcher at ESET

These days, the device in your pocket can do far more than call or send text messages. Your smartphone stores almost every aspect of your life, from memories, captured as photos to personal notes and schedules, log-in details, and various other kinds of sensitive data.

Android-powered devices command more than 70 percent of the mobile operating system market. Add to that the open nature of the Android ecosystem and it’s clearer why these devices bear the brunt of malicious attacks on mobile devices and remain a lucrative target for attackers.

Google has, of course, introduced a number of privacy- and security-enhancing features for Android devices. Just a few days ago, the company announced that it had stopped 1.2 million policy-violating apps from reaching Google Play last year, among other measures aimed at cracking down on malicious apps.

However, this is not to say you should let your guard down when it comes to all sorts of dangers that lurk especially in third-party app stores.

Malware comes in various forms and works in various vicious ways. Watch the video to learn more about some of the most dangerous types of malware affecting Android devices, including:

  • Malicious software that can hold your device and data hostage, possibly “on behalf of the FBI”
  • Malware that steals login credentials and can in some cases bypass two-factor authentication
  • Android nasties that give hackers control over your entire device
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Expert Speak

Netflix Wants All of Us to Understand the Cost of Password Sharing



Written by Steven Hope, CEO, Authlogics

Have you ever shared your Netflix password? If so, you are not alone. But have you stopped to think about the impact it is having? Earlier this week, it was revealed that the streaming service has lost in the region of 200,000 of its 221 million global subscribers, with millions more expected to depart in the coming months. The resulting fall in the Netflix share price (at one point 35%) was a shock for many investors, but with many of us ‘boxsetted out’ by the pandemic, and a cost-of-living crisis looming for many, what can the company do to stem the tide?

It seems one of the big bugbears for Netflix is the habit of sharing account passwords and a survey conducted by time2play in the US, indicates just how widespread it has become. In fact, more than 50% of residents in 17 states including California, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin, admitted to using another person’s Netflix account.

Some may argue that it is an innocent and victimless crime rather than theft. After all, Netflix’s revenue in 2020 was $24.9 billion, more than doubling since 2017, a trend not currently looking likely to continue. So, what harm does sharing a password with family and friends really do? Sure, the company may miss a ‘few’ dollars, Euros, pounds, and so on, but would those benefitting ever actually become a customer? I suspect for many the answer is no.

Speaking as someone that has spent over a decade campaigning for businesses and people in general to practice safe passwords, the Netflix situation highlights to me how little value is placed on the password, yet how costly they are. This is especially true if there is no perceived risk to the person who owns that credential. You only need to look at the lists of the top four passwords – “123456”, “123456789”, “Qwerty” and of course “Password” – to see how much effort goes into devising something un-hackable!

Poor password practice is of course not isolated to streaming services, it is commonplace in a busy workplace. How often have you said or been asked ‘Can I borrow your login details as mine are not working?’. To make matters worse, with so many people still working from home, usernames and passwords are copied and pasted into emails, SMS, and chats with little thought of the consequences.

So, when Netflix warned that prices would need to rise if the rules continued to be broken, I was struck by how they were able to communicate to the global masses in a matter of days, the link between password abuse and financial ramification, in a way that as security professionals we could never do. However, this may have the opposite effect as inflation is everywhere right now, and I suspect more subscribers may balk at an increase, cancel and switch to using illegal logins instead to cut their household costs.

The reality is that the likes of Netflix will struggle to move to a different authentication mode other than passwords for practical reasons. Would you use a streaming service that requires you to authenticate each time they want to watch, using a One Time Password, PIN, or Code for example? I think not.

While the suggestions of advertising revenue may seem to plug some of the Netflix revenue gaps, they ought to tread carefully. Paying customers don’t want to see ads, and some cost-conscious paying customers may well downgrade and accept ads to save money. However, I would urge Netflix to take a close look at technologies available that could protect its content from exploitation and piracy, without compromising the user experience of those who pay for it.

Whatever Netflix decides to do, it needs to do it quickly. The more all of us feel the squeeze on our finances the more likely we are to cancel such services or be willing to participate in the illicit sharing of passwords.  But I would also urge any organisation that uses password-based logins to look at what is happening to Netflix and ask just how much is going on in your business?

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