Category: Fight Back

VirusTotal URL Checker

There are numerous services that keep track of websites loaded with malware.

VirusTotal site at www.virustotal.com/gui/home will check URLs (i.e. Internet addresses) for you.

Option 1 is to upload a file and have it checked for malware

Option 2 is to type in a URL to be checked.

Then VirusTotal checks against more than 70 blacklists created by the anti-malware companies.

Virus Total Community

The VirusTotal Community is a network of interested parties that allows them to comment on files and URLs and share notes with each other. This can be useful in detecting malicious content and also in identifying false positives which are the harmless items sometimes detected as malicious by one or more scanners.

If you find a suspicious web site or receive a suspicious document of any kind then try the virustotal checker.

Do leave a comment on this post – click on the post title then scroll down to leave your comment.

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AVAST Destroy Massive Botnet

AVAST is an Internet security firm and they achieved a great fight back with the help of the French Police.

Criminals employ malware for various tasks including accessing personal information, stealing financial data such as credit card details, collecting logins and passwords, potentially encrypting files then demanding a ransom be paid and so on.

One class of malware that is less dangerous is data mining where the criminals don’t steal data but use your computers processing power for their own benefit. The side effect is that your computer will run slowly and may crash at times.

Retadup malware is a recent incarnation of this and it is used for data mining of Bitcoin cyber currency. It infects your computer and runs a programme to aid its owners in making Bitcoins.

This requires huge amounts of processing power and typically the scam involves many thousands of computers – unknown to their owners.

In this case, approximately 850,00 computers were compromised by Retadup.

The Take-Down

AVAST became involved when it discovered a design flaw in the software controlling Retadup. AVAST realised that the flaw could be used to allow someone to instruct the control to remove the malware from its victims’ computers.

AVAST are a private company and lacked the legal authority to carry this out. Most of the malware’s infrastructure was located in France, so Avast contacted French police. They received the go-ahead and the police went ahead with the operation to take control of the server and disinfect affected computers.

The police replaced the malicious command and control server with a prepared server that made connected instances of Retadup self-destruct. In the very first second of its activity, several thousand bots connected to it in order to fetch commands from the server. The Police server responded to them and disinfected the computers.

Jean-Dominique Nollet, head of the French police’s cyber unit, said the malware operators generated several million euros worth of cryptocurrency.

Remotely shutting down a malware botnet is a rare achievement — as it’s difficult to carry out.

Well done AVAST and the French authorities.

If you have any experiences with stopping botnets do let me know, by email.

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Victim Support

The Victim Support service with a website at www.victimsupport.org.uk/ is a free service for people affected by crime.

Anyone affected by crime in England or Wales can contact them for free, confidential support. Those who live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, can contact Victim Support Scotland or Victim Support NI for help.

The Support line (for free) is 08 08 16 89 111

The Victims’ Information Service (for free) is 08 08 16 89 293

Victim Support is an independent charity dedicated to supporting victims of crime and traumatic incidents in England and Wales. Their purpose is to provide specialist help to support people to cope and recover to the point where they feel they are back on track with their lives.

In 2018, they were contacted more than a million times by victims of crime, offering information, advice and support. 704,219 people visited the website and the dedicated local teams provided specialist emotional and practical support to 133,965 victims.

How Victim Support is Funded

The main source of income is from Police and Crime Commissioners and other statutory and non-statutory bodies for the essential services provided to victims.

They rely on donations to help fund projects and services for other needs, especially for the most vulnerable in society such as children and older people. Donations are vital to help them to work for a world where people affected by crime and traumatic incidents get the support they need and the respect they deserve.

They raise money for the work across England and Wales from generous donations from members of the public including donations, legacies and fundraising. They also receive money from organisations, including corporate partners, charitable trusts and foundations and other grant-making bodies.

Services

  • Information and advice
  • Immediate emotional and practical help
  • Longer term emotional and practical help
  • Advocacy
  • Peer support and group work
  • Restorative justice
  • Personal safety services
  • Help in navigating the criminal justice system

Victim Support run the National Homicide service providing a dedicated, comprehensive wrap-around service and vital independent voice for those bereaved by murder and manslaughter in England and Wales.

They champion victims’ rights and issues locally and nationally, working closely with policy-makers, commissioners, agencies in the criminal justice system, local government and other providers, partners and organisations.

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Robokiller Makes Automated Calls Fun

Robocalls are the unwanted automated calls that you get, mostly from scammers and spammers but also sometimes from Marketing people and companies that don’t realise how annoying their pointless automated calls can be.

Robokiller is one of many APPS that claims to block automated calls from getting through to you.

It is also fun to use as it has Answer Bots to entertain you and confuse the callers.

Price: $2.99/month or $24.99/year for Android devices; $3.99/month or $29.99/year for iOS

Answer Bots

Answer bots are short, amusing recordings that answer the phone for you. You can create your own answer bot, or you can use the standard answer bots that come with the app.

You can choose from answer bots with titles like “Morgan Freeman impersonator,” “Spoiled Child,” “Nonsense,” and one called “Default Answer Bot,” which lets callers know their call has been answered by an app and it’s been blocked.

There is also Random answer bot.

The answer bots are well setup – they don’t just say something then go quiet – there’s hhm, yes, carry on all the usual signs of someone listening, then an interruption from a co-worker asking something and so on and then – Oh yes, I meant to call you guys last week but I got distracted. Hold on a second. And so on.

Can lead to funny conversations.

See if Robokiller and Answer Bots make your life easier.

If you have had any fun at the expense of cold callers, spammers and the like – do let me know, by email.

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How to Unclog Your Digital Life

In our private lives, most of us live a lot in the Digital World – maybe it’s dealing with emails, streaming TV, catching up on social media, watching a movie or YouTube video, communicating with friends and family and for home admin etc.

There is a lot of good content on the Internet, but there is also a huge amount of digital pollution – consider spam messages, scams, pointless emails, pointless websites, celebrity trivia, fake news, fake reviews, meaningless social media etc.

This all clogs up our email systems, social media feeds and the Internet generally and wastes so much of our precious time.

It will also have an effect on us, it’s becoming harder to tell the fake news from the facts, harder to spot the fake reviews, the phishing emails and more. We have to put in more effort and be more vigilant against the tidal wave of digital pollution clogging up our lives.

But, you don’t have to let it take-over your life. The suggestions below can help you to unclog that digital world.

  • Email
  • Clean your inbox and unsubscribe from polluting newsletters that you don’t read.
  • Only cc and bcc people when really necessary.
  • Send lighter emails – you can use services such as WeTransfer if you need to send large files to someone.
  • Set your email system to only check for new emails every hour or two rather than every 5 minutes as used by many.
  • Social Media
  • Turn off notifications. You don’t need to know the second someone gives you a Facebook like.
  • Restrict your access to social media to specific short periods each day.
  • Only post useful content and only read useful content, not the blathering of the stupid.
  • Don’t chase likes or Friends – it is empty and leads to people posting endless rubbish.
  • The social media companies don’t pay you so don’t keep creating content and viewing content on their behalf. (some people do earn money from YouTube etc. of course).
  • Don’t bother following or reading about celebrities – they know as little as most people and have nothing to offer worthwhile.
  • Mobile Phones
  • Turn off sound notifications – you don’t need to know the second a message arrives.
  • At night, put the phone on charge in a different room to where you sleep and turn it off.
  • Don’t use ring tones that may annoy others, especially if you’re travelling by trains and buses.

Take back control of your digital life – don’t let it control you.

Do let us know by email, how you unclog your digital life.

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Stop Unwanted Robo Calls

Robocalls are the unwanted automated calls that you get, mostly from scammers and spammers but also sometimes from Marketing people and companies that don’t realise how annoying their pointless automated calls can be.

Mass cold calling was made easier by use of voice over IP, meaning the calls can be created on basic computers without the need for standard phone lines which cost money and can be tracked.

To some this is just a minor annoyance but to others it can be a lot more serious as they fall victim to scammers.

Robocalls are the No. 1 source of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission.

There are various APPS that claim to block automated calls.

Robocall Blockers

APP Cost Ratings (out of 5 stars)
Hiya:

Caller ID and Spam Blocker

$2.99/month or $14.99/year for Hiya Premium

 

App Store rating: 4.6

Google Play Store rating: 4.4

Nomorobo:

Robocall Blocking

$1.99/month App Store rating: 4.6

Google Play Store rating: 2.1

RoboKiller:

Spam Call Blocker

$2.99/month or $24.99/year for Android devices; $3.99/month or $29.99/year for iOS App Store rating: 4.6

Google Play Store rating: 3.6

YouMail:

Voicemail and Spam Block

Basic service is free; $5.99/month for YouMail Plus and $10.99/month for YouMail Professional App Store rating: 4.6

Google Play Store rating: 4.3

Call Control Home:

Device

$159.99 for call blocker device; smartphone app is free App Store rating (app): 4.5

Google Play Store rating (app): 4.4

It’s up to you which, if any, of these products meet your needs.

If you have had any fun at the expense of cold callers, spammers and the like – do let me know, by email.

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