Facebook “Un Named App” scare leads to malware

Excellent write up by Trendmicro on the ‘un named app’ discussion that is spreading on Facebook. If you search Google for this, you may be tricked into downloading Malware to your machine and get compromised.

Here is the article.

[…] Nothing to worry about here as far as your Facebook is concerned, this does not appear to be a genuine malicious app. In fact a thread on Yahoo answers appears to demonstrate in a reproducible fashion that “Un named App” is nothing more than your “Boxes” tab on your Facebook profile page.

Beware though, there is still real risk attached to this Chinese whisper. Criminals have picked up on the concern among Facebook users (or possibly they were responsible for starting the rumour?) and they have already started to poison Google search results.

Google search result:

Google search result

I queried Google for “facebook unnamed app” and the third result on the first page pointed to a malicious website set up for the purposes of distributing fake anti-virus software, this time called “Security Tool”. If you are unwary enough to click the link you will be presented with a dialogue box informing you that you have a huge number of infected files on your machine and prompting you to use Security Tool to clean them up. The software of course is no real security solution and is designed to fool the victim into parting with hard-earned cash.

Be careful what you surf for.


Time to get rid of RealPlayer – uninstall it now.

RealNetworks recently released a patch to fix no less than 11 critical vulnerabilities.

This is the advisory from Real Networks. Patch can be downloaded from here.

Heise recommends to simply just uninstall it.

Since the proprietary RealMedia format is now barely used, as an alternative to installing the update, users might wish to simply uninstall RealPlayer completely. While few users still have RealPlayer installed, those who do mostly have vulnerable versions, as has been recently demonstrated by The H’s update check. During roughly 140,000 tests over a 30 day period, update check registered around 7,300 installed copies of RealPlayer versions 10.x and 11.x, of which more than 80% were vulnerable.

I agree. The format is not really used anymore. Real was useful a couple of years back, but no more. Throw it into the trash – uninstall it.

Child Safety on the Internet – Some Tips

Excellent article on Microsoft.com:

Age-based guidelines for kids’ Internet use

If your children use the Internet at home, you already know how important it is to help protect them from inappropriate content and contact.

Windows Live Family Safety and the parental controls included in Windows 7 and Windows Vista can help you create a safer online environment for your children.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) helped Microsoft develop age-based guidance for Internet use with the family safety settings in both of these products. It’s important to remember that these are guidelines only. You know your child best.

Up to age 10

Supervise your children until they are age 10. You can use Internet safety tools to limit access to content, Web sites, and activities, and be actively involved in your child’s Internet use, but Microsoft recommends that you sit with your child when they use the Internet, until the age of 10.

Here are some safety tips to consider when you go online with your 2-10 year old:

  1. It’s never too early to foster open and positive communication with children. It’s a good idea to talk with them about computers and to stay open to their questions and curiosity.
  2. Always sit with your kids at this age when they’re online.
  3. Set clear rules for Internet use.
  4. Insist that your children not share personal information such as their real name, address, phone number, or passwords with people they meet online.
  5. If a site encourages kids to submit their names to personalize the Web content, help your kids create online nicknames that don’t give away personal information.
  6. Use family safety tools to create appropriate profiles for each family member and to help filter the Internet.
    For more information, see Windows Live Family Safety, Windows 7 Parental Controls, or Windows Vista Parental Controls.
    Help protect your children from offensive pop-up windows by using the pop-up blocker that’s built in to Internet Explorer.
  7. All family members should act as role models for young children who are just starting to use the Internet.

Ages 11 to 14

Children this age are savvier about their Internet experience, but it’s still a good idea to supervise and monitor their Internet use to help ensure they are not exposed to inappropriate materials. You can use Internet safety tools to limit access to content and Web sites and provide a report of Internet activities. Make sure children this age understand what personal information they should not give over the Internet.

When your kids are this age it might not be practical to physically supervise their Internet use at all times. You can use tools such as Windows Live Family Safety, Windows 7 Parental Controls, or Windows Vista Parental Controls.

Here are some safety tips to consider when you go online with your 11-14 year old:

  1. It’s a good idea to foster open and positive communication with your children. Talk with them about computers and stay open to their questions and curiosity.
  2. Set clear rules for Internet use.
  3. Insist that your children not share personal information such as their real name, address, phone number, or passwords with people they meet online.
  4. If a site encourages kids to submit their names to personalize the Web content, help your kids create online nicknames that give away no personal information.
  5. Use family safety tools to create appropriate profiles for each family member and to help filter the Internet.
    For more information, see Windows Live Family Safety, Windows 7 Parental Controls, or Windows Vista Parental Controls.
  6. Set family safety tools on the medium security setting, which should have some limitations on content, Web sites, and activities.
  7. Keep Internet-connected computers in an open area where you can easily supervise your kids’ activities.
  8. Help protect your children from offensive pop-up windows by using the pop-up blocker that’s built in to Internet Explorer.
  9. Encourage your children to tell you if something or someone online makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Stay calm and remind your kids they are not in trouble for bringing something to your attention. Praise their behavior and encourage them to come to you again if the same thing happens.

Ages 15 to 18

Teens should have almost limitless access to content, Web sites, or activities. They are savvy about the Internet but they still need parents to remind them of appropriate safety guidelines. Parents should be available to help their teens understand inappropriate messages and avoid unsafe situations. It’s a good idea for parents to remind teens what personal information should not be given over the Internet.

Here are some safety tips to consider as you guide your teens online:

  1. Continue to keep family communication as open and positive about computers as you can. Keep talking about online lives, friends, and activities, just as you would about other friends and activities.
    Encourage your teens to tell you if something or someone online makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. If you’re a teen and something or someone online doesn’t seem quite right, then speak up.
  2. Create a list of Internet house rules as a family. Include the kinds of sites that are off limits, Internet hours, what information should not be shared online, and guidelines for communicating with others online, including social networking.
  3. Keep Internet-connected computers in an open area and not in a teen’s bedroom.
  4. Investigate Internet-filtering tools (such as Windows Vista Parental Controls, Windows 7 Parental Controls, or Windows Live Family Safety ) as a complement to parental supervision.
  5. Help protect your children from offensive pop-up windows by using the pop-up blocker that’s built in to Internet Explorer.
  6. Know which Web sites your teens visit, and whom they talk to. Encourage them to use monitored chat rooms, and insist they stay in public chat room areas.
  7. Insist that they never agree to meet an online friend.
  8. Teach your kids not to download programs, music, or files without your permission. File-sharing and taking text, images, or artwork from the Web may infringe on copyright laws and can be illegal.
  9. Talk to your teenagers about online adult content and pornography, and direct them to positive sites about health and sexuality.
  10. Help protect them from spam. Tell your teens not to give out their e-mail address online, not to respond to junk mail, and to use e-mail filters.
  11. Be aware of the Web sites that your teens frequent. Make sure your kids are not visiting sites with offensive content, or posting personal information. Be aware of the photos that teens post of themselves and their friends.
  12. Teach your kids responsible, ethical, online behavior. They should not be using the Internet to spread gossip, bully, or threaten others.
  13. Make sure your teens check with you before making financial transactions online, including ordering, buying, or selling items.
  • Discuss online gambling and its potential risks with your teens. Remind them that it is illegal for them to gamble online.
  • I would like to add that the most safety is offered through you, the parents. Make sure you communicate with your children. Educate yourself about the Internet.

    Do not use simple passwords and do not use the same password in more than one place

    I found an article on Help Net Security about the kind of passwords people use. The article can be found here.

    Imperva released a study analyzing 32 million passwords exposed in the Rockyou.com breach. The data provides a unique glimpse into the way that users select passwords and an opportunity to evaluate the true strength of these as a security mechanism.

    In the past, password studies have focused mostly on surveys. Never before has there been such a high volume of real-world passwords to examine.

    Key findings of the study include:

    • The shortness and simplicity of passwords means many users select credentials that will make them susceptible to basic forms of cyber attacks known as “brute force attacks.”
    • Nearly 50% of users used names, slang words, dictionary words or trivial passwords (consecutive digits, adjacent keyboard keys, and so on). The most common password is “123456”.
    • Recommendations for users and administrators for choosing strong passwords.

    “Everyone needs to understand what the combination of poor passwords means in today’s world of automated cyber attacks: with only minimal effort, a hacker can gain access to one new account every second—or 1000 accounts every 17 minutes,” explained Imperva’s CTO Amichai Shulman.

    The report identifies the most commonly used passwords:

    1. 123456
    2. 12345
    3. 123456789
    4. Password
    5. iloveyou
    6. princess
    7. rockyou
    8. 1234567
    9. 12345678
    10. abc123

    For enterprises, password insecurity can have serious consequences. “Employees using the same passwords on Facebook that they use in the workplace bring the possibility of compromising enterprise systems with insecure passwords, especially if they are using easy to crack passwords like ‘123456’,” said Shulman.

    “The problem has changed very little over the past 20 years,” explained Shulman, referring to a 1990 Unix password study that showed a password selection pattern similar to what consumers select today. “It’s time for everyone to take password security seriously; it’s an important first step in data security.

    The complete report is available here.

    There are two important lessons learnt from this:

    1. Do not use simple to guess passwords

    2. Do not use the same password in multiple places.

    If you do not follow these guidelines, and someone guesses your password, you are pretty much out of luck as they will be able to access all the accounts and sites that this password works with.

    I always recommend building passwords along the following guidelines:

    • length between 8 and 12 characters, alphanumeric and non-alphanumeric
    • contain at least one upper-case letter
    • contain at least 1 non-alphanumeric value
    • do not use a derivation of a word, e.g “t3stt3stt3st”, “password1”.
    • use a sentence as basis for a password, pick letters of each word of that sentence, replace letter with numbers, add at least 1 non-alphanumeric value.

    An example of constructing a secure password (do NOT use the password below)

    “This will be a cool password nobody will ever crack”


    Use the guidelines above, and you will never be hacked for the reason of having had weak passwords.

    How to secure your Smartphone (Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile-based phones)

    Considering that more and more people use Smartphones like Blackberries and iPhones, mobile security becomes more and more of an issue. You have an anti-virus scanner on your laptop? A firewall? You keep it up to date with the latest patches? That is awesome; I commend you for it. But what about your phone that you use to access your e-mail? How do you protect your Smartphone from getting hacked?

    This is the first part of a series on how to secure your Smartphones. Credits to PCMag.

    BlackBerry (System 4.5 and higher)

    Go to Options, then Security Options, then:

    1. Password-protect start-up. Under General Settings, set Password to Enabled. You may also want to change other settings here, such as the number of password attempts allowed before the device is locked, and whether the device should automatically lock on holstering. Commit your changes by pressing the Back button (the half-circle arrow) and enter your new password when prompted. Choose a password you’ll remember and that will be quick and easy to type using the device’s keypad. Confirm that password, then exit to the main menu. Lock your phone by pressing and holding the * button to confirm that it has been password-protected.
    2. Encrypt data. Scroll past General Settings to Content Protection, and enable it. Under Strength, you can select Strong (80 bits), Stronger (128 bits), or Strongest (256 bits). I recommend using Stronger for faster encryption/decryption or Strongest for the most security. Selecting Yes for Include Address Book will keep your contacts secure but also result in disabling caller ID when the phone is locked. Circle-arrow back out, then create an encryption key by randomly moving the trackball and typing characters. A good practice is to regenerate an encryption key every two to four weeks: Under Security Options | General Settings, click on any service, then click Regenerate encryption key.
    3. Secure passwords. Please don’t fall into the trap of saving usernames and passwords in your mobile device’s browser. Anyone who finds your device and unlocks it then has access to all of your online accounts. Instead, use the Password Keeper utility to store and encrypt this info.
    4. Lock down Bluetooth. By default, Bluetooth is on. In addition to wasting your battery, this leaves you open to Bluetooth-based attacks. From the Home screen, go to Set Up Bluetooth. When prompted to Add Device select Cancel. Press the Menu button, then select Options. Set Discoverable to No, so other devices can’t find your BlackBerry, and set Security to High—or if the Bluetooth devices you use with your BlackBerry support it, set Security to High + Encryption to encrypt Bluetooth data transmissions. From the following checklist, enable only those services you think you are going to use with Bluetooth—most commonly headset and hands-free. Exit and save.
    5. Clear memory. Also under Security Options, memory clearing can delete sensitive data, such as unencrypted e-mail messages and username, password, and other certificate-related info, from memory. You can set the BlackBerry to clear memory under certain circumstances—for example, when you holster your BlackBerry or lock it.

    Smartphone (Windows Mobile 6)

    1. Password protect start-up. Go to Start | Settings | Lock and configure a password. Check the box next to Prompt if the device is unused for and then select a time period from the drop-down box, something in the 5-to-30-minute range. You can set your password to be a simple four-digit PIN or a strong alphanumeric string and then enter your password in the boxes below. You can also set a hint, but remember that this can be read by anyone with physical access to your phone. At this point, it would help to go to Settings | Today, click the Items tab and check the box next to Device Lock to provide a quick locking option on your Home screen.
    2. Encrypt data. Under Settings | Security | Encryption, check the box that says Encrypt files placed on the storage card, then click OK. A storage card can actually contain both encrypted and nonencrypted data, but encrypted data can be read only from the device in which it was encrypted and written, or from a Windows PC using ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center. There’s also a big gotcha lurking: If you have to perform a hard reset of your device or update the ROM, you will lose the encryption key stored on the device, and with it, access to your data. Companies can push encryption policies to Windows Mobile devices using Exchange Server 2007.
    3. Secure passwords. This requires a third-party solution, such as KeePass or some other eWallet type of encrypted password manager.
    4. Lock down Bluetooth. Go to Start | Settings, then the Connections tab, then Bluetooth. On the Mode tab you can enable or disable Bluetooth and make your device visible; Off and Not visible are the more secure settings. Scroll all the way right to the Security tab and check the box to require authentication for data beaming.
    5. Clear the memory and cache. In Internet Explorer, go to Menu | Tools | Options; in the Memory tab you can set a history retention time in days or clear the history manually. Click the Delete Files button to clear the Web cache. Navigate to the Security tab and click the Clear Cookies button.


    Unfortunately, you won’t find a list item called “Encrypt data” below. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any encryption available for iPhones.

    1. Enable Passcode Lock and Auto-Lock. Click the main iPhone Settings icon, then click the General tab and select Auto-Lock. Select the time period you want, then exit out to the Home screen. Once Auto-Lock locks the phone, Passcode Lock will require a four-digit PIN to unlock it. Click the iPhone Settings icon, then General, then Passcode Lock. From there enable Turn Passcode On. Enter your passcode. Tap Require Passcode and then choose “immediately.”
    2. Secure passwords. There’s no native way to do this, so you’ll have to use a third-party password manager.
    3. Lock down Bluetooth. It’s great that Bluetooth is off by default on iPhones, but you should also set yours to require an eight-character PIN for connections with Macs. Turn on Bluetooth only when you need it.
    4. Clear the memory and cache. Back on the Passcode Lock screen, you can disable SMS Preview while the device is in its locked state, and also turn on the Erase Data function. This will wipe the iPhone clean after ten failed passcode attempts. You can clear cookies, browser cache, and history from the Settings menu in Safari.

    This should get you started.

    Patch your Adobe Reader ASAP or get hacked like Google did!

    Go to http://www.adobe.com/support/security/bulletins/apsb10-02.html and get your latest patch.

    The hackers who tried to steal source code from dozens of companies used an exploit in Adobe Reader to get it done..

    From Wired:

    A hack attack that targeted Google in December also hit 33 other companies, including financial institutions and defense contractors, and was aimed at stealing source code from the companies, say security researchers at iDefense.

    The hackers used a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Reader to deliver malware to the companies and were in many cases successful at siphoning the source code they sought, according to a statement distributed Tuesday by iDefense, a division of VeriSign. The attack was similar to an attack that targeted other companies last July, the company said.

    A spokeswoman for iDefense wouldn’t name any of the other companies that were targeted in the recent attack, except Adobe.

    Adobe acknowledged on Tuesday in a blog post that it discovered Jan. 2 that it had been the target of a “sophisticated, coordinated attack against corporate network systems managed by Adobe and other companies.”

    The company didn’t say whether it was a victim of the same attack that struck Google. But Adobe’s announcement came just minutes after Google revealed that it had been the victim of a “highly sophisticated” hack attack originating in China in December.

    Neither Google nor Adobe provided details about how the hacks occurred. Google said only that the hackers were able to steal unspecified intellectual property from it and had focused their attack on obtaining access to the Gmail accounts of human rights activists who were involved in China rights issues.

    But according to iDefense, whose customers include some of the 33 companies that were hacked, the attacks were well targeted and “unusually sophisticated” and aimed at grabbing source code from several hi-tech companies based in Silicon Valley as well as financial institutions and defense contractors.

    The hackers gained access to the company networks by sending targeted e-mails to employees, which contained a malicious PDF attachment. The malicious code exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe’s Reader application.

    Don’t get hacked! Patch now.

    How to secure your Windows machine.

    A recent statistic I read stated that over 70% (SEVENTY PERCENT) of new infections come from surfing to legitimate sites that are infected. A recent case was the New York Times (full story here):

    Here’s a front-page story the New York Times (NYT) would rather not be running: The paper is warning readers to be aware of bogus ads running on its Web site. The paper says “some readers” have seen unauthorized pop-up ads promoting antivirus software on NYTimes.com, and warns visitors who see the ad not to click on it but to restart their browsers instead. While the Times doesn’t spell this out, the newspaper has likely had its site hijacked by a “malware” scammer who is trying to trick visitors into installing pernicious software onto their hard drives

    Thus, to get infected, it is perfectly enough to just hit your legitimate web sites. You do not have to browse to any questionable content anymore to get compromised.

    In light of this, lots of people have been asking me what in my opinion is to reliably secure a Windows machine and protect it from the threats that are out there – viruses, worms, trojans, etc.

    I recommend multiple layers of defense to be setup on a Windows machine. Below items are listed in order of importance, highest listed first.

    1. Keep your Windows machine current with the latest patches.
    Ensure that Windows Update is turned on and configured to automatically download and install patches. Make sure that when you put your machine into standby mode (instead of turning it off every day), that you pay attention to whether patches need to be installed and the machine need to be rebooted. I encounter a lot of installations that never get turned off, where the patches never get installed (although they are downloaded and ready to go).

    2. Install a Anti-virus scanner.
    This can be one of the big names out there: AVG (free), Norton, Trend Micro, McAfee. Get one of their package offerings that include phishing protection, link scanning, encrypted password storage. DO NOT BELIEVE that this is the only thing you need. Although they want to make you think that this is all you ever need, it is not true. Even the best AV scanners cannot keep up with the ever-changing strains of viruses that are out there (strains change hundreds or even thousands of times a day), therefore you need to have multiple layers of scanners to get a higher rate of protection.

    Make sure that the ‘auto-protect’ features are turned on, i.e. the AV scanner runs ‘resident’ in memory. That means that live protection is turned on and viruses do not make it through.


    Some people believe that they can leave auto-protect on but never scan their systems. The caveat with this is that auto-protect may miss a new strain of a virus and let it through. While the signatures get updated, auto-protect never detects it.

    Therefore, a scan then may find it, but you need to make sure to run these scans.

    Product-wise, I have been using Norton Internet Security for a long time, but I will let the license expire and try out a different AV scanner next year. Norton has disappointed me recently with the failure rate it has, i.e. viruses that do not get caught by it. Ideally, you use at least 2 different virus scanners, but this may get costly if you are looking to purchase solutions.

    I am currently trying out the new Microsoft Essentials ‘AV and Malware’ scanner that was released on 9/30/09. I believe that AV and Malware protection should be free and included in a Operating System, but the MS AV scanner still may need some tuning to be comparable to any $$- solution.

    3. Install a separate Malware scanner. This is important.

    You NEED to have a backup scanner to whatever AV solution you are using. This increases the rate of detection and your total exposure significantly.

    I recommend Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware for this. It has worked well for me. There is a freeware and a commercial version for it. The major difference between the freeware and the paid version is that in the free version you have to run manual scans and it does not run in the background protecting you from new threats. I recommend you spend the $25 and purchase it. It is worth it. The interface is simple and structured in a no-nonsense kind of way, focusing on scanning, updating its database and showing you results of the last scans.

    If you do not want to shell out the money to buy the full version, I recommend you use the Windows Task Scheduler to run this software daily to update the database and at least weekly to do a full scan of your system. It supports command-line arguments. Shoot me an email at info (AT) gansec.com if you want to have instructions on how to do that.

    4. Install Secunia Personal Inspector to keep your applications up to date

    Install Secunia PSI to keep your third party applications (Adobe PDF Reader, Flash Player, Shockwave, Real Audio Player, any other stuff you use besides Microsoft Software) current. It scans your system and matches it up with an always current database of new versions for the applications you use. It is an extremely handy tool that you will not want to miss once you get used to it. You would not believe how many third party applications can severely compromise your system security if exploits are used against vulnerabilities that they have (example). Secunia PSI is Freeware.

    5. Install a firewall on your Windows machine.

    This usually comes with Windows (Windows Firewall) or with one of the ‘Internet Suites’ of the commercial AV vendors. This is to block annoying connection attempts, Malware that tries to communicate outbound across other ports than your standard web port (80), potential inbound hacking attempts. Make sure it is enabled. When you first enable a firewall you may have to permit standard ports (e.g. outbound Web for iexplore.exe, firefox.exe, etc), but this will settle down after the initial turn-up. Yes, it is extra work, but you need to invest it.

    6. Keep backups.

    Keep backups of your Windows installation. You can burn the data on DVDs or external storage solutions. If you would like to look into external storage (especially important if you own a small business), I recommend Netgears’ ReadyNAS storage solution: About $1K for a fully redundant 1 TeraByte of storage. It is extremely trivial to setup (takes about 10 minutes to configure it to be ready for backups from the time you turn it on). Data will not be lost on this one.

    These are 6 simple steps to get going on Windows Security. It takes some work to get there, but believe me, it beats the ‘man, my system is lost because of infections, I lost my documents, my bank account information got stolen and people write checks in my name via my Online-Banking access‘ by far.

    – Sven Olensky.