This month's topic is a how technology and procedures can be used to divert
"drive-by" or automatic downloads such as the recent Internet Explorer
exploit, and to prevent drive-by downloads and other Internet threats from
damaging your infrastructure and stealing your personal information.
How This Attack Works
Drive-by downloads infect existing websites or create new websites, and
trick users into visiting them. Upon landing on the fraudulent site, hackers
slip malicious software onto the PC through a browser flaw. The malicious
software assists with identity theft, stealing credit card numbers, passwords
and other sensitive data by secretly logging everything the victim types.
Having an unsecured web browser leaves you vulnerable to a variety of
problems from malware installing without your knowledge to intruders taking
control of your computer. Exploiting these vulnerabilities in web browsers
has become a popular way for attackers to compromise computer systems.
According to a new study by Google, 1 in 10 sites are malicious sites,
silently installing viruses and spyware or tricking you into revealing your
confidential information. Recent studies found that close to half of all
web browsers were not fully secure and half of all Web sites are infested
with some form of malware, including many of the leading search, social
networking and shopping sites. And a majority of all new malware is released
on the same day as the corresponding browser vulnerability is announced.
These and other "zero day" attacks illustrate that setting your browser to
maximum security and updating the latest security patch alone is not enough.
How Does It Affect You
All of these attacks bypass traditional PC security, such as anti-virus and
firewalls, through your web browser damaging your PC while invading your
privacy and stealing your money.
Do these scenarios sound familiar?
Lately I've noticed my computer is really slowing down. It takes forever to
boot up, and my streaming video performance is terrible. I've spent a huge
amount of time troubleshooting the problem, but can't seem to get my
computer back up and running properly. As it turns out I was infected by
malware disguised as a video file and silently installed itself on my
I applied for credit and was turned down, even though my credit history is
impeccable and I have never been late with a payment. As it turned out my
identity was stolen and I was robbed. These identity thieves were running up
thousands of dollars in debt under my name and it's all because I was tricked
into entering my social security and banking account numbers on a fake
website that posed as my bank's website. In the end, I had to spend a huge
amount of time and hassle trying to recover my money and my identity.
Recently I needed access to this data but when I tried to locate the
information everything was wiped out. Without our knowledge, we were the
victims of an online attack that silently installed spyware, destroying all
of our PC files. It was amazing how quickly we lost extremely valuable data.
Most of the lost data cannot be recovered, and I am in fear about how this
will affect my business and its reputation. Browser hijackers can install
dangerous spyware that can cause irreparable damage to your files and
programs as well as jeopardize your personal information and identity.
What Can You Do About It
Malware in action can consume a substantial amount of your computer's memory,
leaving limited resources for other legitimate programs to use. This can lead
to extremely sluggish performance of vital programs, like your current
Internet browser or Operating System and a slow workstation overall.
Here are some smart guidelines that you can follow:
- Don't download from sites that you don't trust;
- Don't enter confidential information into sites you are not familiar with;
- Don't shop at sites you don't know;
- Update your operating system and browser regularly with the most current security fixes;
- Never follow a link from an e-mail that asks you to enter your personal
information. Only malicious sites designed to look like real sites will
ask for this, because reputable sites would never ask you to do this!
There are also some great plug-ins to grab for your browsers, whether
you use Internet Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla, Safari or others. Here are
a few tools that will provide additional levels of trust for your browser
as you surf the web:
Calling ID - Free anti-phishing browser toolbar and embedded link checking
software alerts the user if it detects phishing and related risks.
Show IP - Show the IP addresses of the current page in the status bar. It
also allows querying custom information services by IP and hostname and
allows you to access DNSstuff tools to verify the location of the site..
Router Status - Shows the current status of your router in the status bar.
Scandoo - This scanning technology scans each and every one of your search
results to see if there is anything malicious behind the links and then
feeds the security results back into your search page. Great home page!
There you have it. Hopefully some of these techniques and tools will make
the potential for hijacks and "man-in-the-middle" attacks less viable for
you and your organization. What it does provide, is a solid foundation to
use the Internet safely and provide some level of security without being
intrusive and preventing business uses for the web.
To view more articles:
or to inquire about an on-site presentation, please feel free to call me at
508-995-4933 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time.....
If this page was useful to you, please help others find it:
Founder & Principal Consultant
Managing Your Security and Risk Needs
More Articles by Michael Desrosiers
This is a Unix/Linux resource website. It contains technical articles about Unix, Linux and general computing related subjects, opinion, news, help files, how-to's, tutorials and more. We appreciate comments and article submissions.
Jump to Comments
Many of the products and books I review are things I purchased for my own use. Some were given to me specifically for the purpose of reviewing them. I resell or can earn commissions from the sale of some of these items. Links within these pages may be affiliate links that pay me for referring you to them. That's mostly insignificant amounts of money; whenever it is not I have made my relationship plain. I also may own stock in companies mentioned here. If you have any question, please do feel free to contact me.
Specific links that take you to pages that allow you to purchase the item I reviewed are very likely to pay me a commission. Many of the books I review were given to me by the publishers specifically for the purpose of writing a review. These gifts and referral fees do not affect my opinions; I often give bad reviews anyway.
We use Google third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.