Bah Malware Attacks – This time it’s Cryptolocker

A few practical precautions can help minimise the possibilities of a CryptoLocker attack. What exactly are our top tips?

Don’t leave it linked to your own PC if you’re not backing up, if you are using an external hard drive. If you’re uncertain check with your own supplier.

— Create files within the Cloud and upload photographs to on-line accounts like Flickr or Picasa (although NSA and MI5 will copy all your stuff!)

— Change to your spam- and virus filtered email service. (It also doesn’t enable you to really send them).

— Do not go to on-line porn sites, which are generally the source of many malware downloads. When clicking on adverts; never open Twitter website links and attachments from those that you do not understand or trust take care. Heh but really this is the internet – go find porn, it’s fine ūüėČ

– – Install the most recent versions of upgrade addons and the internet browsers including Java and Adobe Flash.

— Get reputable antivirus software and make certain you update it often.

— Act fast. Bear in mind it’s likely to take a little time for the encryption to occur, should you inadvertently download a dodgy attachment. Before all of your files are encrypted should you instantly download and run an antivirus programme, like the complimentary antivirus toolkit available from Sophos, it might destroy the CryptoLocker – nevertheless, you’ll forever lose affected files.

— Encrypt the files you specially need to stay private, including records including your passwords or private information, to prevent criminals from reading what is in them. Read this useful “Ask Jack” post to the Guardian technology site to discover more about encrypting your files.

Privatisation of Censorship in China

Here’s a new lucrative, money making profession that could be creating a few millionaires across the globe over the next few years. ¬†It goes under various names like internet scrubbers, online reputation management or image repair – and firms are making lots of money especially in China.

Firms and wealthy individuals are paying specialists to  ensure that any mentions that appear online are all positive and that any negative comments are removed from view.  In China one of the biggest firms of this sort are called Yage Times and are fronted by Gu Genda a 30 year old entrepreneur from Beijing.

In China the number of firms like this are growing. ¬†They work something like this, a big company or person may be receiving bad publicity online – perhaps a rumor or potential scandal is being talked about online. ¬†Of course this is perfectly natural but in a very connected online society like China this can have a huge impact on a company or individual’s reputation.

So they hire someone like Yage Times to ensure that negative content and discussions are removed or at least fade from view rapidly.   This can be very complicated and extremely costly but many firms are willing to pay the price.

Unfortunately it’s not always easy to do this. ¬†There are of course ways to make online pages and posts slowly disappear from view by affecting their ranking in the search engines. ¬†But if a negative story appears on a popular and high ranking news site or block it’s not going to fade away easily – at least not until it’s been viewed by millions of people.

So what can you do? ¬†Well apparently the initial attempts to remove unwanted stories involves bribing the publishers to remove or modify the items. ¬†For bigger sites this wouldn’t always work so Yage Times consultants would then forge Government documents enforcing the removal of specific content from their site.

As the Chinese government actively censor huge sections of the web this would rarely come as a big surprise. ¬†In fact many Chinese people routinely connect via a US or UK IP address to avoid these filters. It’s another huge growth area ironically because of all the restrictions that have been put in place by the Chinese authorities – here’s one that’s extremely popular – best VPN software.

censorship

These tactics have ensured some big profits for companies like these, but not surprisingly the Chinese Government were not impressed – Gu Genda and about 10 others are now in custody awaiting trial for various charges including bribery.

Censorship of the internet is rife in China, but it seems the state would rather keep the monopoly.  The story was raised by a Chinese magazine called Caixin.

It is not without irony that many comments and responses to the Caixin story have been deleted or censored shortly after publication!

 

 

 

Proxies and Protocols

Many people use proxies for a variety of different reasons. ¬†Some use them for security, basically using the proxy server to hide their identity(and IP address) from the web site they are visiting. ¬† Others use them to bypass blocks which are based on IP addresses. ¬†these could include if your IP address is banned from a forum or site for some reason or when it’s blocked because of it’s location . ¬†This is surprisingly common and major sites like the BBC, Hulu, ABC and YouTube block access to millions based on their location.

So it’s not surprising that so many people use proxies for these reasons, but most people don’t have much of an idea of how they actually work. ¬† For instance if you start filtering all your traffic through ¬†a proxy then you are effectively expecting it to handle all sorts of different protocols. ¬†If you filter through a foreign country perhaps through a German or Turkish proxy¬†or maybe a UK TV VPN¬† then you’ll also appear to be located here.

So How Does A Proxy Handle all These Protocols?

Well to be honest some don’t, if you use any of the free ad financed web proxies you see online they’ll frequently fall over or fail to connect. ¬†But a well configured proxy should be able to handle most of the protocols you send through it. ¬†This is because the proxy operates at the Application Layer of the OSI Model.

This means that to some extent a proxy server can actually understand what is happening.  The proxy has two basic ways of dealing with the traffic Рit can either proxy or tunnel the protocol.   If it understand the protocol you can do neat things like filter it, perform advanced logging and even operate access control to deny or allow access.

If the proxy doesn’t understand a protocol then it will just act as a dumb tunnel and forward and receive the data between the client and server. ¬†For instance you’ll find that the vast majority of web based proxies have no support for SSL as they don’t understand it.

Proxies will normally be able to handle protocols that also operate at the application level like HTTP, Gophur and FTP for instance.  When using a proxy server though remember you are entrusting it with all your personal data that you are sending through your browser Рtake care using proxies that you know nothing about.  The reality is that setting up a free proxy server is a great way of stealing peoples usernames, passwords and other identity related information.