Holiday Shoppers Beware: Cyber Attacks are On This Year's Naughty List

By Jamie Epstein December 20, 2012

For those of us now feeling the pressure of getting our massive amount of holidays gifts not only purchased but wrapped and ready to be given to that special someone, cyber attackers are up to no good and are using malware to gain access to your confidential information. Malware is defined as any type of malicious software that has the ability to infiltrate your computer, working in the background so that you can’t see it and ultimately stealing your personal credentials, passwords and more.

I recently had the chance to speak with Malwarebytes Senior Security Researcher Jerome Segura about multiple topics including why antivirus software just isn’t enough these days and how cyber criminals and the community overall has changed in recent years.

However, before we jump into this information, anyone and everyone who uses a computer these days should be aware of the interesting way in which Malwarebytes got its start. Founded in 2008 in San Jose, Calif., its founder was only 17 years old when he found himself working in a computer shop and attempting to help one of his parents who was suffering the effects from a bad computer virus. After going to multiple online security websites and working with someone to help him clean up the system over the course of three days, he realized that there was clearly a need for a product that could take care of threats without delay. Malwarebytes isn’t a solution that should be used instead of an antivirus software but instead in conjunction; similar to the way in which both seatbelts and air bags are now both necessary these days to keep drivers safe. One without the other simply isn’t half as effective.

Typically, malware presents itself in the form of key loggers or banking Trojans that are loaded onto machines in various ways including e-mails that can look as if they are from a known person.  “You click on a link and you land on a site that isn’t what you were expecting. You then close it and suffer from a download attack that steals your personal information,” Segura said. With the holiday season now upon us, there is a lot more online shopping taking place, which means people are using their credit cards to make purchases online. So, while there is the same exact amount of malware out there it can collect more information because people are much more active. Also, this time of years prompts those of us out there who may not be as computer savvy to fall victim to these invasions of privacy as they are looking for a “steal of a deal” via the Web when ultimately their information is the only thing being stolen.

 According to Segura you must “make sure your computer is secure because most malware is hidden so you won’t even be aware that your machine is being compromised.”  

He recommends that you continuously perform program updates to protect yourself, if there is anything on your computer that you are not actively using to uninstall it, and don’t open attachments in e-mails even from people to know due to the fact that it may look like it came from somewhere legitimate when it actually didn’t.

In addition, “avoid accessing your e-mail account or typing in bank information on any public Wi-Fi network such as those found in places like Starbucks as these networks are totally unsecure and anyone sitting in the coffee shop can steal your credentials. Using layered protection for the machine of your choice is also key because it is likely that the more security layers you have in place, the more secure you will be,” Segura commented.

As time has passed, not only have cyber attacks changed but the attack community as a whole has changed dramatically. While years ago lots of hackers went after victims or companies not to make money but almost to show off their credentials, an increasingly popular trend is organized crime getting more involved within the cyber crime industry. While in the old days the people who made all the money and drove Cadillac’s were usually drug dealers, today those same people in the beautiful Caddy’s are involved in some aspect of cyber crime. Thus, these scenarios have significantly expanded and become much more sophisticated than ever before.

While this information may not be enough to prompt people to actually brave the malls or retail shops in search of presents , it is vital to remember that password security like two factor authentication is needed nowadays. Never reuse your password across multiple sites and lastly I can’t stress enough how important making them fairly lengthy and complicated enough as well as changing them at regular intervals truly is.

Don’t disappoint your loved ones this year by becoming broke before you can even get them a present because you were conned by a cyber terrorist. Follow these tips and you will have a great holiday season, and maybe if you are lucky have some money to spare to get some extra goodies for yourself.




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

TechZone360 Web Editor

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