Tag Archives: PC

Breach Brief – Acer Computer

Acer-LogoComputer maker Acer announced that it has suffered a data breach of its U.S. commerce site. According to Acer anyone who has purchased a computer through the site in the past year may be at risk.

Customers that accessed the site between May 12, 2015 and April 28, 2016 may have had personal information compromised. This data includes mailing addresses, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and even the card’s CVV security codes. CVV codes are the digits on the back of cards next to the signature box.  On American Express Cards the CVV code is on the front. Acer has not said how many people are impacted by the breach.

cvvnumberoncreditcards

CVV Numbers on major credit cards

A letter from Acer’s vice president of customer service Mark Groveunder said, “We do not collect Social Security numbers, and we have not identified evidence indicating that password or login credentials were affected.”  The PC and laptop maker has not said how the hack was carried out.

Grovenunder went on to say in the letter that Acer has employed an outside cyber security firm to investigate the breach and is cooperating with federal law enforcement and has also notified the affected payment card providers.

“If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, you have the right to file a police report. In addition, you may contact your State Attorney General’s office or the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself against identity theft,” said Groveunder in the letter.

Acer urges its customers to review their credit card account statements for any suspicious activity.

“We value the trust you place in us. We regret this incident occurred, and we will be working hard to enhance our security,” said Groveunder.

 

Simda Botnet Taken Down

canstockphoto23093500You may think you are in control of your computer but are you? Have you ever heard the termin the background?” That is computer terminology meaning your computer is performing a task while you the operator are doing something else.

Most programs that run in the background are harmless and helpful. But your computer may be part of a botnet. A computer that is part of a botnet is known as a zombie.  Now the question for black people remains; what is your computer doing behind your back?

On April 9th, 2015 a joint effort of international law enforcement bodies and private security and technology companies came together to shut down one the largest botnets in history. The Simda botnet is believed to have infected more than 770,000 computers in more than 190 countries around the world including the US, Canada, Russia and United Kingdom.

Last week’s botnet takedown is just the latest international operation to shut down a botnet. Another separate takedown targeted Beebone, an extremely elusive botnet that provided a captive audience of PCs  that were infected with a backdoor. A backdoor is a method that a hacker uses to gain remote unauthorized access to a computer often remaining undetected. This backdoor provides access to criminals who were looking for an easy way to quickly install malware on large numbers of computers and impact huge numbers of people around the world.

The AACR keeps things simple. A botnet is a network of computers that are communicating with one another or a master computer and working together to perform a task. These computers are usually working together to launch denial of service attacks against a target computer or network.  This means that hundreds or thousands of computers that have become enslaved in a botnet are instructed to contact a particular website repeatedly causing the website, computer or network to become overwhelmed and stop working. It happens almost everyday and your computer could be part of the attack and you would never know.

Botnets are also designed to steal personal information including passwords, social security numbers, credit card details, email contacts, addresses and telephone numbers. This data may be used in crimes including identity theft, fraud, spamming, and malware distribution. Now suddenly the question becomes relevant to any black person who owns a computer; What is your computer doing behind your back?

The Simda botnet was known for distributing banking malware, installing backdoors on hundreds of thousands of machines across the world. One of them may have been yours.

To determine if your computer was part of the Simda botnet visit the Kaspersky Labs Simda Botnet Free Scanner.

Breaking It Down

The number of computers affected was put at over 770,000 machines. That number will surely get bigger as law enforcement continues their investigation. By some estimates the number could be as high as 2 million computers. And that is just this botnet. There could be thousands or hundreds of thousands of botnets big and small all over the Internet. You have to know if you are in control of your machine. Practice computer safety and security and use the tools like the Kaspersky scanner to make sure your machine is yours alone. 

Don’t play around with this. Your computer could literally be committing crimes whenever you turn it on. Hackers are clever and have done really sinister things like using other people’s computers to store information in hidden files. And the owner of the computer has no idea. It is very possible that you could be a victim of a hacker and not know it. Be suspicious and ask yourself; what is my computer doing behind my back?

 

 

 

 

Spring Time is Clean PC Time

Spring time is when all things are new again. Flowers bloom and the leaves return to the trees. Its also a good time to clean up your computer.  A clean PC that is  up to date is faster and safer. Any way you look at it your computer could probably use some maintenance.

I urge black people to ask themselves these questions; when was the last time you defragmented your hard drive? Do you even know what defragmenting means? What about your desktop? That’s the screen you see when you are have no programs running. How about your browser with all those bookmarks and cookies? These are all actually fairly simple tasks and you don’t need a computer science degree to do it. Visit  the Kaspersky blog site to get all the information you need to get a clean PC for spring.

After you have done your spring PC cleaning take the next step and perform a virus and malware scan. Microsoft’s Safety Scanner does an excellent job at detecting those nasty programs that may have found a home on your PC. You might be surprised what it finds. And do the complete scan not the quick scan. I usually do this once a month or more if I suspect something funny is going on. I also activate it just before bedtime because it takes hours to complete but it does a good job.

Of course it won’t work for Apple computer so I suggest you try Housecall, a TrendMicro product for scanning Apple computers. Both of these companies offer free anti-virus tool so check them out when you go to the site.

I have written on this blog before urging black people to treat their computer and Internet connection like their home. Keep it clean and locked. Don’t let just anybody and anything inside. Check the archives!