Wednesday, November 30, 2011

There is no Christmas Tree App Virus or Trojan, it's just a Hoax

Christmas Tree App Virus / Trojan Hoax‘Tis the season to spread hoaxes!

Once again, the Christmas Tree App virus / Trojan hoax has risen from the grave to spread Christmas cheer fear by threatening to destroy the computer of anyone who wants to explore the wonders of virtual Christmas Tree ownership.

Originally starting out as a chain email in November 2010, the hoax is now thriving on Facebook via Wall posts and direct messages similar to this one:
WARNING!!!!!! ..... Do not use the Christmas tree app. on Facebook. Please be advised it will crash your computer. Geek squad ( like they really know how to fix your computer without replacing every part) says its one of the WORST trojan-viruses there is and it is spreading quickly... Re-post and let your friends know!!!!!!

By the way, Geek Squad posted a blog entry when this hoax first started circulating, labeling the threat as a hoax and shooting down claims that they had discovered any Trojans or viruses hiding in a Christmas Tree app. It’s kind of hard to label a non-existent Trojan or virus as the “worst” one there is.

Searching for “Christmas Tree App” on Google will pull up a laundry list of websites – including Snopes, MSNBC, Sophos, among others – all stating that the Christmas Tree App virus is nothing but a hoax.

Perhaps the original email was inspired by a worm called “Christmas Tree EXEC” that, when executed, would draw a Christmas tree using text characters and forward copies of itself to everyone in the victim’s email contacts list. There’s no need to panic, though, as the Christmas Tree EXEC worm had it’s fun way back in December of 1987 (yes, you read the year right) when it crippled BITNET, EARN & IBM’s internal network.

If you see a friend or family member posting a warning about the Christmas Tree App virus / Trojan, feel free to let them know it’s just a hoax.

Keep your PC safe from legitimate virus and Trojan threats by running up-to-date antivirus software that offers real-time scanning. And stay away from suspicious looking apps. ;)

Photo Credit: steve p2008

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news & PC security threats.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 Years Later, the Olympic Torch Virus Hoax Still Burns Strong

Olympic Torch Virus HoaxFive years later, the Olympic Torch virus hoax is still going strong.

Back in February 2006, folks started forwarding their friends and family members chain emails warning them not to open any emails titled “Invitation” as they contained attachments harboring what was known as the “Olympic Torch virus.”

According to the email, the alleged “most destructive virus ever” earns its title by wiping out the unsuspecting victim’s hard-drive. Of course, the real problem lies in the fact that the email is a hoax and the Olympic Torch virus does not exist.

Nowadays folks are not only keeping the Olympic Torch virus hoax alive by forwarding emails to their contact lists, but posting “warnings” on social networking sites like Facebook.

Here’s a copy of the current email circulating that warns you of the dangers offered by the fake Olympic Torch virus:
Subject: FW: Worst Computer Virus - Please read

PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS NOTICE TO YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, CONTACTS! In the coming days, you should be aware....

Do not open any message with an attachment called: Invitation FACEBOOK, regardless of who sent it. It is a virus that opens an Olympic torch that burns the whole hard disc C of your computer.

This virus will be received from someone you had in your address book .. That's why you should send this message to all your contacts. It is better to receive this email 25 times to receive the virus and open it .. If you receive a mail called: Invitation FACEBOOK, though sent by a friend, do not open it and delete it immediately. It is the worst virus announced by CNN. A new virus has been discovered recently that has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever.

It is a Trojan Horse that asks you to install an adobe flash plug-in. Once you install it, it's all over. And there is no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information of their function is saved.


Facebook posts warning users of the Olympic Torch virus typically contains a chunk of the email above.

Ironically, the Snopes article linked in the chain email was related to an entirely different threat and had no connection to the Olympic Torch virus hoax. It’s important that you do a little research before sharing information with others to avoid generating unwarranted fear.

If you receive one of the variants of the Olympic Torch virus hoax emails, feel free to delete it WITHOUT forwarding it to any of your contacts.

While it's true that bad guys spread malware via email attachments, this "Olympic Torch virus" is not one of them. Protect yourself by running up-to-date antivirus software that offers email filtering and real-time scanning and avoid downloading unexpected email attachments.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news & PC security threats.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Buy of the Week: Apple 17-inch MacBook Pro for $2,370

This offer expired on December 2nd. Please check the banner at the top for our latest deal!

It' s all about performance. If you want an Intel Core i processor, a brilliant display, and Mac OS X Lion, you want the all-new MacBook Pro.

Until December 2nd, you can order a new 17-inch Apple MacBook Pro from Hyphenet for only $2,370, plus shipping!

Call Hyphenet at (619) 325-0990 to order your 17-inch MacBook Pro today!

Specifications for the 17-inch MacBook Pro

Display17" Widescreen LED backlight
TFT 1920 x 1200 ( WUXGA )
ProcessorIntel Core i7 2.4 GHz
Hard Drive750 GB - Serial ATA-300 - 5400 rpm
Graphics ProcessorIntel HD Graphics 3000 Dynamic Video
Memory Technology 5.0
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet,
WLAN : 802.11 a/b/g/n,
Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.7 Lion
Optical DriveDVD±RW (±R DL)
CameraIntegrated (1280 x 720)
BatteryLithium polymer - 95 Wh (up to 7 hrs run-time)
WarrantyApple 1-year limited warranty
Technical support - phone consulting - 90 days

Don't miss out on this Buy of the Week! Call Hyphenet at (619) 325-0990 to order your 17-inch MacBook Pro!

Buy of the Week offer valid through December 2nd, 2011.

* Shipping, taxes and CRV may apply.

Hyphenet is an Authorized Apple Reseller.

This offer expired on December 2nd. Please check the banner at the top for our latest deal!

Buy of the Week: Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro for $1,140

This offer expired on December 2nd. Please check the banner at the top for our latest deal!

13-inch Apple Macbook ProThe Apple MacBook Pro is an engineering marvel in every sense of the word. Cast in a single piece of aluminum, the MacBook Pro is thinner and lighter compared to other notebooks. The high end technology combined with sleek features makes it the preferred choice of the new age customer.

Until December 2nd, you can order a new 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro from Hyphenet for only $1,140, plus shipping!

Call Hyphenet at (619) 325-0990 to order your 13-inch MacBook Pro today!

Specifications for the 13-inch MacBook Pro

Display13.3" Widescreen LED backlight
TFT 1280 x 800 ( WXGA )
ProcessorIntel Core i5 2.4 GHz
Hard Drive500 GB - Serial ATA-300 - 5400 rpm
Graphics ProcessorIntel HD Graphics 3000 Dynamic Video
Memory Technology 5.0
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet,
WLAN : 802.11 a/b/g/n,
Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.7 Lion
Optical DriveDVD±RW (±R DL)
CameraIntegrated (1280 x 720)
BatteryLithium polymer - 63.5 Wh (up to 7 hrs run-time)
WarrantyApple 1-year limited warranty
Technical support - phone consulting - 90 days

Don't miss out on this Buy of the Week! Call Hyphenet at (619) 325-0990 to order your 13-inch MacBook Pro!

Buy of the Week offer valid through December 2nd, 2011.

* Shipping, taxes and CRV may apply.

Hyphenet is an Authorized Apple Reseller.

This offer expired on December 2nd. Please check the banner at the top for our latest deal!

Online Shopping Tips to Help Keep You Safe This Holiday Season [INFOGRAPHIC]

Planning on sitting out Black Friday and focusing on Cyber Monday?

This lovely infographic by TrendLabs injects color into 5 tried-and-tested online shopping tips to help keep you safe from cybercriminals who are on the hunt for bargain-hungry shoppers that are gullible enough to fall for their tricks.

Online Shopping Tips Infographic

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook. You know you want to.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook Priced at $199 for ‘Limited Time’

BlackBerry PlayBookWhether or not Research in Motion’s PlayBook tablet is next in line for the chopping block is yet to be known, but those who still have faith in the PlayBook can pick one up for just $199.

RIM took to Twitter to get the word out that “for a limited time” shoppers in the U.S. and Canada can purchase the PlayBook for $199 from participating retailers.

RIM's Tweet Announcing BlackBerry PlayBook on Sale

According to the BlackBerry website, those who are interested can find the deal at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Office Depot, Radio Shack and Wireless Giant. However, as of this writing only Best Buy appears to be reflecting the $199 sales price. So if you're looking to get one, you better move fast!

BlackBerry business customers can enjoy an entirely different deal in BlackBerry’s Back to Business promotion. Business customers that purchase two PlayBook tablets from an authorized value added reseller will receive an additional BlackBerry Playbook for free, along with a free accessory of their choosing for each PlayBook.

Are you interested in buying a BlackBerry PlayBook? Share your thoughts below!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news.

Fake $50 iTunes Gift Certificate Email Returns Once More to Spread Malware

iTunes Logo (Credit: Apple)Don’t open any files attached to emails claiming that you’ve received a $50 iTunes gift certificate and that you’ll find your certificate code inside.

Spammers have dug into their bag of tricks and pulled out the bogus iTunes gift certificate scam again, hoping that they can entice another round of recipients into downloading malicious content on their computers.

Although the email is set to appear as if it were sent from the iTunes Store (, the fact that the email was sent to multiple recipients should serve as a huge red flag and hopefully stop some folks from falling for it.
From: iTunes Store (
Subject:  Order 48030 #iTunes Gift Certificate

Dear customer,

You have received an Itunes Gift Certificate in the amount of $50
You can find your certificate code in attachment below.

Then you need to open iTunes. Once you verify your account, $50 will be credited to your account.
So you can start buying video, music, games right away.

iTunes Store.


Fake $50 iTunes Gift Certificate Email

Attached is a file named “”, which according to the spammer contains the certificate code for your $50 iTunes credit. In a more likely scenario, the file contains a Trojan that will open a backdoor and download additional malware onto your PC -- just like it did last year.

If you receive a copy of the fake iTunes gift certificate email, it’s highly recommended that you delete the email without opening any of the attached files.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest computer security threats.

Protect Yourself from Black Friday & Cyber Monday Hacks and Scams [INFOGRAPHIC]

The four weeks between Black Friday and the weekend before Christmas aren’t big payouts just for retail stores. It’s the biggest pseudo-month for cybercriminals as well.

Internet crooks will be hard at work this holiday shopping season: pumping out spam emails and polluting search engine results for popular keywords with malicious websites in hopes of tricking users into divulging personal information or infecting their machines with malware to harvest the data by force.

Protect yourself and your wallet by checking out this infographic by Veracode that illustrates the hacks & scams that will be in play this Black Friday & Cyber Monday and be sure to take the necessary precautions to make sure you don't trip head-first into a scammer's trap.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Hacks & Scams Infographic

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest computer security threats.

Bogus USPS Delivery Failure Notice Contains Virus

United States Postal Service (USPS)The United States Postal Service has issued a warning for users to beware of fraudulent USPS delivery failure notices being sent by internet crooks as they likely contain malware.

Cybercriminals are doing their best to trick unsuspecting users into opening the fake delivery notice and its malicious contents by spoofing the sender’s email address to make it appear as if the email was sent from’’.

Inside, the bogus USPS delivery failure notice reads:
From: United States Postal Service (
Subject: USPS Delivery Failure Notification


Unfortunately we failed to deliver the postal package you have sent on the
12th of November in time because the recipient's address is erroneous.

Please print out the shipment label attached and collect the package at our

United States Postal Service

The attached file, “USPS” is not a shipping label as the email claims, but it does contains the virus that the spammer is hoping you opt to download and open on your machine.

If you receive this fake USPS delivery notice email, it is recommended that you delete it from your inbox and go about your day. The USPS is already aware of the problem and they’re doing their best to figure out who’s behind these malicious emails and bring them to a stop.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest computer security threats.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mac OS X DevilRobber Trojan Now Dressed in Pixelmator Clothing

DevilRobber Trojan Now Disguised as PixelmatorThe DevilRobber Trojan targeting Mac OS X has a new outfit and a brand new set of tricks, according to the latest report from F-Secure researchers.

Previous versions of DevilRobber Trojan Horse infected OS X machines by piggybacking pirated copies of popular image editing applications, GraphicConverter v7.4, Corel Painter and Flux. However, the latest variant of the DevilRobber Trojan only carries the label of another well-known image editing program, Pixelmator and none of the actual code.

When ran, the fake Pixelmator program (DevilRobber Trojan in disguise) acts as an FTP downloader that connects to a remote server to download and install a backdoor – “bin.cop” – on the computer.

Although the malware still attempts to steal BitCoin wallet contents and use the computer’s CPU and GPU power to mine BitCoins, it does feature some significant changes from previous versions of DevilRobber.

For instance, the new version doesn’t bother checking to see if Little Snitch is installed on the machine, nor does it take screenshots of the end-user’s activities and upload them to a remote server. Instead, the third installment of the DevilRobber Trojan harvests login credentials from the popular 1Password password management tool, system log files and your shell command history.

Thankfully, users can easily avoid coming into contact with the new version of the DevilRobber Trojan by downloading software directly from the developer. The DevilRobber Trojan is only spread via pirated software.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest computer security threats.

Buy of the Week: Xbox 360 Limited Edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Console

This offer expired on November 25th, 2011.

Xbox 360 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 BundleDesigned by Xbox, Infinity Ward, and Sledgehammer Games, this Limited Edition Xbox 360 console celebrates one of the most successful Xbox franchises of all time. This bundle includes a customized console, two customized controllers, exclusive downloadable avatar items and a copy of the standard edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 game. This is a must have for Call of Duty fans.

For a limited time, you can order the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Console from Hyphenet for only $399, plus shipping!

Call Hyphenet at (619) 325-0990 to order your Xbox 360 Limited Edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Console today!

What's included?

  • Limited Edition Modern Warfare 3 Console
    Own a piece of Call of Duty history with this custom designed console, which includes sounds from the actual game for the power and eject buttons, as well as built-in Wi-Fi for easier connection to the world of entertainment on Xbox LIVE. With the 320GB hard drive you'll have plenty of space to store your favorite games and movies. Xbox 360 is more games, entertainment and fun.

  • Two Customized Wireless Controllers
    This award-winning, high-performance wireless controller features the Xbox Guide button for quick, in-game access to friends and music. It has a range of up to 30 feet and a battery life of up to 30 hours on two AA batteries.

  • Standard Edition Copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Game
    Complete the Call of Duty experience with the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 game. Included in this bundle is the Standard Edition of the game to play as soon as you get home. Rated "M" for Mature.

  • Xbox 360 320GB Hard Drive
    The 320GB detachable hard drive allows gamers to save their games and store television shows, movies, music, pictures, trailers, levels, demos and other content available from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

  • Xbox 360 Wired Headset (black)
    This headset lets gamers strategize or trade taunts while playing games, and send voice messages to friends on Xbox LIVE.

  • Xbox LIVE
    Included with your console is a free one-month subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold, the best in gaming and entertainment. Invite friends from all over to connect and play online multiplayer games or watch thousands of HD movies streamed instantly from Netflix.*

Don't miss out on this Buy of the Week! Call Hyphenet at (619) 325-0990 to order your Xbox 360 Limited Edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Console!

Buy of the Week offer valid through November 25th, 2011.

* Shipping and taxes may apply.
This offer expired on November 25th, 2011.

Will You Be Buying Any of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Holiday Gifts This Holiday Season?

Beware of Malware and ScamsPlanning on doing some e-shopping this holiday season?

Those who will be taking to the web in order to cross out those items on their holiday gift lists should beware of booby traps set by cybercriminals in order to steal personal information or spread malware.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday only days away, folks are preparing themselves for an all-out buying frenzy that will hopefully result in snagging the items they want the most for the best price. However, shoppers aren’t the only ones getting ready for the holiday season.

Cybercrooks are also hoping to cash in on the buzz of the holiday purchasing season by setting up malware-laden website to spread viruses, worms and other nasty computer bugs or capture your billing information via bogus merchant websites.

Internet thieves draw in unsuspecting buyers via search engine poisoning and typically target the season’s most popular gadgets in order to yield the most victims.

Did any of the items on your holiday shopping list make the cut? Here are the hot commodity items that made it to F-Secure’s list of the ‘Top Ten Most 'Dangerous' Holiday Gifts for Cyber Monday 2011’:

  1. Apple iPhone 4S

  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 DVD

  3. Angry  Birds: Knock on Wood Game

  4. Steve Jobs biography

  5. Fijit Friends Willa Interactive Toy

  6. Michael Buble ‘Christmas’ album

  7. Apple iPad 2

  8. Kindle Fire tablet

  9. Silver ‘Heart’ pendants

  10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

To help you stay safe, F-Secure suggests you take the following precautions when shopping online throughout the holiday season:

  • Visit retailer’s websites directly instead of using Google to search for them. Example: type in ‘’ instead of Googling ‘Amazon’.

  • Always check the URL in your address bar before making a purchase and be on the lookout for typos in the address bar.

  • Use antivirus software that offers real-time scanning, a personal firewall and browsing protection.

Happy (& Safe) Shopping!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook for the latest tech news and PC security threats. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Would You Trust Software Promoted by Spam?

Spam Advertising Ascentive SoftwareA rather interesting piece of spam arrived in the inbox today.

Instead of promoting the usual pharmaceutical or replica Rolex garbage, this spam is pushing a program called PC SpeedScan Pro, which supposedly helps your computer run faster by fixing registry errors and such.

The spammers attempt to build a bit of credibility for their email by setting the sender’s name to “Microsoft Certified” (email address is However, that may be overshadowed by the fact that the entire message is compiled of 3 images that both educate and frighten the reader:
From: Microsoft Certified (
Subject: Please Scan your PC for Harmful Errors!
Urgent Notice to ALL Yahoo Users:

There has been a recent increase in malicious software and malware attacks on home PCs, resulting in slow performance, internet access interruptions, frequent crashes and in some extreme cases, even the loss of important pictures, documents and files.

Please scan your PC to ensure that it is protected and safe from these attacks and the potential loss of these important documents. The scan is absolutely FREE and will immediately tell you about your computer's safety status.

To begin your 100% Free Scan, please click HERE.

If you prefer not to receive e-mails from Internet Alert Service in the future, click on the link below:

Or send mail to:
Internet Alert Service
201 Spring Garden St, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19123

This email was sent because you signed up and/or registered with one of our affiliates. To stop receiving mail from our service, CLICK HERE or mail to P.O. Box 29502 #64216 Las Vegas, Nevada 89126-9502. This message has been sent to you by a mailing service and does not guarantee or support any of the offers advertised in this email. This email may be part of a continuing campaign.

It was no surprise that the unsubscription service linked in the footer doesn’t work.

Ascentive Landing PageClicking on the top half of the message will redirect you to a page on Ascentive’s – makers of the PC SpeedScan Pro software – website.

Users beware, though, as there are numerous complaints that the software advertised on is scareware and to make things worse, Ascentive was recently ordered to refund thousands of customers in Washington for its deceptive business practices.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s typically never a good idea to purchase software from unsolicited emails.

By ordering software via spam links, you're feeding spammers as they typically earn a commission thanks to whatever affiliate program they've signed up for. As long as their spam emails result in sales, they'll continue flooding our inboxes with spam. No sales means no incentive to spam.

If you’re looking for a good registry and file cleaner, I suggest you check out CCleaner by Piriform. I use CCleaner on my home and work computers. It’s easy to use, has a good reputation and is completely free.

Stay clear of the scareware and avoid purchasing anything advertised in spam!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook for the latest tech news and PC security threats. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spammers Turn to Offering Plastic Instead of Green

Spammers Opt for PlasticAfter switching their bait, cybercriminals are tossing out the line again, hoping some unsuspecting reader will bite and send them their personal information.

After sifting through the misspellings and grammatical errors, you’ll find that you’re being promised an ATM Card with $1,200,000 on it. All you have to do is send them the address you’ll want it sent to.

Here’s the email:
From: UNITED NATIONS office201140[at]
Reply-to: francis.zinsou[at]
Subject: Attn; Beneficiary

Attn; Beneficiary

Greetings Dear, The UNITED NATIONS IN Affiliation with HSBC BANK have agreed to compensate you with the sum of US$1,200,000.00, for self support. This is regarding the draws he organized before he left the office to help individual’s town a self charity organization to help the less privileged children.

This includes every foreign contractors that may have not received their contract, inheritance sum, and people that have had an unfinished transaction or international businesses that failed due to Government problems and the World financial Crisis etc. We found your name in the list of those who are to benefit from this compensation exercise and that are why we are contacting you.

Now We are contacting you to let you know that  your Fund has been programed in to an ATM CARD on your behalf worth $1.2 US Dollars in your name for your self charity organization and compensation the necessary arrangement of delivering the ATM CARD has been made with SKY COURIER/SECURITY COMPANY Benin Republic, The will send you ATM Visa Card which you will use to withdraw your money via ATM MACHINE in any part of the world, and the maximum daily limit is Five Thousand United States Dollars ($5,000.00).

Please write a letter of application to the given address below with your receiving address where you want them to deliver it.

Contact Person:

Dr.Obi Ginter
Phone +229-993-283-84
Registration Reference No of the Package FDXB/xxx/100
Code Number:xxxKP/229B

Yours Faithfully,
Jean-Francis .R. Zinsou
Permanent Representative to the United Nations

As you can see, this phishing email carries all the classic signs of a phishing email scam:

  1. Despite claims that the message is coming from a “Permanent Representative to the United Nations”, the email was sent using a free Yahoo account. By the way, “.vn” is the country code top-level domain for Vietnam.

  2. You’re instructed to reply to a different email address than the one the email is allegedly sent from. This is a typical request from scammers as the sender’s email address is usually spoofed. In this case, you’re asked to respond to, which supposedly belongs to the company that’s supposed to deliver your card. Whatever.

  3. You’re asked to provide personal information for monetary gain. Don’t you think if you had some sort of “contract” with someone that they’d already have your information on file?

  4. It's rather obvious that English is not the spammer's first language.

Feel free to report this email or simply toss it into your computer’s trash bin.

Should you like to report it, you can either:

  • Report it to SpamCop.

  • Forward the email to the FTC at Make sure you include the full email headers.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook for the latest tech news and PC security threats. 

Photo Credit:

Malware Milestones: The History of Computer Viruses, Worms, Trojans & More [INFOGRAPHIC]

It’s kind of crazy to know that the first malware milestone was set back in 1970, when the Creeper worm showed up on the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).

Since then, computers and their end-users have been at the mercy of a variety of viruses, Trojans, and worms that have come into existence – each one seemingly more dangerous than its predecessor.

Check out this infographic outlining malware milestones:

Malware Milestones Infographic

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest PC security threats.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spammer Requests You Send Personal Data to Help Them Flee the Country

No Phishing Allowed SignEither this spammer has an extremely small mailing list or they’re really trying to sell the story that their life is in jeopardy and they desperately need help in order to escape.

Over the last few days, the following email has arrived in my inbox over 5 times. Yes, FIVE times – each email is exactly the same and bears the “VERY URGENT” subject line, which my Norton spam filter always takes the courtesy of changing to read “[Norton AntiSpam]-- SPAM --VERY URGENT”.

Inside, the phisher feeds some sob story about how their life is in the hands of the “undisclosed recipients” that the email was sent to and offers a 30% cut on an undisclosed amount of money that is described to be “quite large.”

All you have to do is send over a butt-load of your personal information. Right.

Here’s the email:
From: Adil Adil
Reply-To: Adil Adil
To: undisclosed recipients: ;

Dear Friend,

How are you doing today, hope fine?

We are from Libya north Africa, following the fall of our Government we fear the New Government leader will kill us, we have tried to escape to any nearby country, This requires a private arrangement though the details of the transaction will be furnished to you if you indicate your interest in this proposal.We have all the legal documents to back up the transaction, besides we have worked out the modalities to ensure smooth and risky free transfer.We are willing to offer you 30% of the money, the fund in question is quite large in a security company in Ghana, we are looking for Business Representative to help us secure the fund and invest them pending when everything is normal, our big boss created this problem, now we all is on the run to secure oneself and life, kindly help me out. I will offer you 30% and if you are interested kindly send Full Name and your mobile phone number and your home address, occupation and country and age with your id card and you can reach me with my private E-mail address:

Waiting for your response?


Adil Ibrahim

Recipients of this email should NOT respond to this email or provide any of the personal information requested by the scammer.

Instead, you are encouraged to report the email to SpamCop or the FTC prior to deleting it. Be sure that you include the full email headers when reporting it.

Hopefully the authorities will be able to pinpoint the internet crooks behind the spam and bring them to justice.

Until then, don’t feed the phishes!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook for the latest tech news and PC security threats. 

Image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos. Altered by Marquisa.

Win32.Worm.Coidung.B Posing as Office Genuine Advantage Program, Spreading via Chat Messenger

Win32.Worm.Coidung.B is a little crazy..A worm has been spotted in the wild, spreading through the Yahoo Messenger and tunneling deep into victim’s computers in order to wreak havoc.

The worm, identified by Bitdefender as Win32.Worm.Coidung.B poses as an Office Genuine Advantage checker, which is a tool previously used in the past by Microsoft to validate copies of Microsoft Office – similar to the Windows Genuine Advantage system in place today. The worm is being spread via a file called “office_genuine.exe.”

Once the Coidung worm gains entry into the victim’s computer, it goes straight to work – disabling the Windows firewall, creating copies of itself that it hides within several system folders under a variety of names, modifying registry keys to ensure the files run on startup, and opening a backdoor to allow its author to control the PC remotely, recruit it into a DDoS attack or download additional malware.

To make things worse, Coidung comes bundled with a virus, Win32.Virtob. It is unknown whether the virus was planted inside the Coidung worm intentionally or if it happened to hitch-hike a ride somehow along the way. Either way, the Virtob virus is happy to do its own thing by infecting ASP, HTM and PHP scripts while it waits patiently for a command from its controller.

Users should avoid downloading any executable files shared via messenger programs or unsolicited emails to minimize the chances of Win32.Worm.Coidung.B  - or any other malware - from making it's way onto their machine.

It’s recommended that you always keep your PC protected by running up-to-date antivirus software that offers real-time scanning and a personal firewall in addition to exercising caution when dealing with files downloaded from the internet.

Photo Credit: Kokotron

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest PC security threats.

Which Tech Gadgets Top the Holiday Wishlist for 2011? [INFOGRAPHIC]

“All I want for Christmas is some money and a vacation.”

If that’s what you’re hoping for this Christmas, you’re not alone! 39% of folks are hoping to find more green under the Christmas tree this year, while 30% hope their boss will be in the gift of giving out vacations for the holidays.

Those who are looking forward to getting shiny, metal objects this season seem to prefer Apple products more than anything. If you’re shopping for a tech geek, you’ll be safe purchasing a new iPhone 4S or iPad 2 for them.

That’s if you’re not a part of the holiday-hating 20% that prefer to shell out lumps of coal just for laughs.

That’s okay; we can always “re-gift” it across the dinner table later. ;-) "Think fast!"

All We Want for Christmas 2011


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Be On the Lookout for Phishing Emails Posing as Delta Air Lines Purchase Receipts

[caption id="attachment_1808" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Photo Credit: ZDNet"]Delta Air Lines Phishing Email[/caption]

Delta Air Lines has issued an advisory to the public following reports that phishing email posing as a purchase receipt for a Delta Air Lines ticket is making rounds.

The phishing email appears to have been carefully constructed by cybercriminals and is devoid of any noticeable typos.

According to ZDNet, the email contains links to legitimate websites, including Delta Air Lines and the U.S. Department of Transportation website, along with the phishing sites setup by the scammers.

The phishing email also contains an attachment attempting to pass off as a copy of a receipt. Users are warned not to download or open the attachment.

Delta Air Lines wasted little-to-no time updating their website to warn customers about the phishing email:
We have recently received reports from customers of fraudulent emails claiming to be from Delta Air Lines. As such, please be advised of the following:

  • We recommend you change your SkyMiles account PIN immediately and monitor your account for any misuse.

  • These emails were not sent by Delta Air Lines.

  • You should not click on the link in the email or open any attachments.

  • Instead, you should delete the email from your inbox.

  • Please call us at 1-888-750-3284 if you have questions or need further information.

These emails claim that you have purchased a Delta ticket, a credit card has been charged and/or an invoice or receipt is attached to the email. If you receive one of these emails, do not open the attachment as it may contain potentially dangerous viruses or harm your computer.

Be assured that Delta did not send these emails, and our customers’ credit cards have not been charged by Delta as a result of the emails. These emails did not originate from Delta, nor do we believe that any personal information that you provided us was used to generate these emails. We will continue to post updates on this page as additional information becomes available.

Have you received any suspicious emails allegedly sent from Delta Air Lines? Share your experience below!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook for the latest tech news and PC security threats. 

Reddit User Discovers Login Credentials for 47k MSN, Hotmail Email Accounts

Roddds Script ResultsReddit user, “Roddds” recently stumbled across a zip file that contained the login credentials for 47,130 MSN and Hotmail email accounts.

The list was discovered after Roddds received a typical phishing email and opened the URL provided within the email without the .php file at the end. Inside the server directory was an assortment of files, including the zipped text file containing the list of MSN and Hotmail email addresses with their corresponding passwords.

“I wrote a Python script to test if the accounts were still valid without actually looking into these people's emails”, Roddds wrote in a Reddit post, “This script has been running for about 2 hours now, and about 85% of the credentials I've tested are still valid.”

Upon learning that majority of the login credentials were genuine, Rodds contacted Microsoft - who owns both MSN and Hotmail - and sent them the list. The server hosting the file was taken down shortly thereafter.

If you suspect that your Hotmail or MSN account has been compromised, it’s highly recommended that you change your password immediately.

Additionally, you can wander over to and see if your email address has been found in another list that has been released to the public.

Users should avoid entering login information when clicking links from unsolicited emails as they may run the risk of submitting their login information to a third-party. Always be sure to either check the URL in the address bar before entering your username/password or type the URL of the website you wish to visit directly into the address bar to prevent your login details from ending up in the wrong hands.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook for the latest tech news and PC security threats. 

Spammers Pretend to Be from Bank of England, Offer 10.5 Million Dollars

Bank of Englad Scam Promises $10.5 Million DollarsIt never ceases to amaze me that people are still falling for email scams, especially when there are so many warnings out there urging you to avoid them.

Still, I imagine the reason people fall for phishing scams is likely due to the fact that they’re hoping for the off chance that they really will have millions of dollars deposited into their account by some stranger from another country. Or perhaps they’ve just had a moment of insanity.

Either way, internet crooks will continue to pump out phishing emails, hoping that someone will bite. Scammers are currently using $10.5 million dollars with the back story that it’s for a contract payment as bait.

Honestly, would you fall for this?
From: Bank of England []
Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 4:52 AM
Subject: Bank of England

Bank of England
Thread needle Street
London EC2R 8AH
Fax:+4477860607727 EX 832


We apologies for the delay of your payment and all the inconvenience that we might have indulge you through. However we are having minor problems with our payment system ,which is inexplicable and has held us stranded and indolent,not having the aspiration to devote our 100% assiduity in accrediting foreign contract payments.We apologies once again from the records of outstanding contractors due for payments with the British government,your name was discovered as next on the list of the outstanding contractors who have not yet received their payments.

This payment is being processed and will be released to you as soon as your es respond to this letter.Also note that from my record in my file you rout standing contract payment is $10,500,000.00 (ten million five hundred thousand united states dollars)


As soon as this information is received your payment will be wired to your nominated bank account directly from BANK OF ENGLAND.

Thanks for your understanding hope to have your response shortly.

I am looking forward for your urgent reply on this Email:

Yours faithfully,

Control Officer, Foreign Payment Dept
Bank of England

If the horrific butchering of the English language isn’t a big enough sign that this email wasn’t sent from a Bank of England official, here are a couple more red flags that will help convince you:

  1. The email was sent from – why is an alleged bank official emailing you from a free Yahoo! account with a Philippines extension?

  2. In the email, you’re instructed to respond by emailing a completely different address,, which is based in Mongolia (that's new).

  3. You’re asked to send confidential information via email, including your banking details. I’ve never known any bank that does this, but it’s something scammers often do.

  4. If you really were owed such a large amount, why would they email you versus calling or sending an official letter via snail mail? Something just doesn’t sit right.

Now that you know this email is junk, you have the following options:

  • Report the email to Spam Cop (include the headers).

  • Report the email by forwarding it to the FTC at (include the headers).

  • Simply ignore the email and delete it.

Photo Credit: Tracy O

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook for the latest tech news and PC security threats. 

Facebook Hit By Coordinated Attack Spreading Pornographic & Violent Images, Videos and Links

Facebook IconWere you among the countless unlucky Facebook members that had their newsfeeds flooded with inappropriate images over the last few days?

According to Facebook, you have nobody to blame but yourselves – and maybe your friends.

Earlier this week, complaints began rolling in about violent and sexually explicit images, links and videos overwhelming user’s news feeds. Some Facebookers claimed that they’d mysteriously liked inappropriate content, sent/received suspicious chat and direct messages, or were tagged in disturbing images by their Facebook pals.

Facebook has since investigated the issue and found the root of the problem, which turned out to be a spam attack fueled by users pasting malicious JavaScript code into their browser bar.

Although it’s not clear who originally conjured up the poisonous code that was eventually shared with gullible users, the ultimate problem lies with the curiosity that drives folks into clicking – or in this case, copying and pasting – items that they shouldn’t.

A Facebook spokesperson released the following statement:
Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us, and we are always working to improve our systems to isolate and remove material that violates our terms. Recently, we experienced a coordinated spam attack that exploited a browser vulnerability. Our efforts have drastically limited the damage caused by this attack, and we are now in the process of investigating to identify those responsible.

During this spam attack users were tricked into pasting and executing malicious javascript in their browser URL bar causing them to unknowingly share this offensive content. Our engineers have been working diligently on this self-XSS vulnerability in the browser. We’ve built enforcement mechanisms to quickly shut down the malicious Pages and accounts that attempt to exploit it. We have also been putting those affected through educational checkpoints so they know how to protect themselves. We’ve put in place backend measures to reduce the rate of these attacks and will continue to iterate on our defenses to find new ways to protect people.

Many have speculated that the hacktivist group, Anonymous is behind the attack. Earlier this year, rumors surfaced that Anonymous was going to attack the popular social networking site and bring it down on November 5th, 2011 in celebration of Guy Fawkes Day. However, that turned out to be nothing more than hot air as the 5th came and passed without any signs of an attack – until now.

Either way, Facebook claims to have identified who is behind the attack and intends on seeing them in court. Let’s hope they bring the evil-doers to justice!

It's still up to you users to stop clicking those "special offers" and crazy video links, though. Curiosity is a dangerous thing.

Photo Credit: mfinleydesigns

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook for the latest tech news and PC security threats. You know you want to.

Humans vs. Computers – Who Would Win? [INFOGRAPHIC]

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say machines are going to take over the world at least a handful of times in your life. I know I have.

While humans have already been replaced by computers in many ways – like the cashier at Jack in the Box – there are just some things that a human can do better than a computer.

While some of those things may be obvious, like feeling emotions, others may be a bit surprising.

So let’s see… who will win the fight?! Computer?! Or man…

Humans versus Computers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Woohoo! Now celebrate our victory by following us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like”-ing us on Facebook. You know you want to.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More HP TouchPads Selling at $149 - with Strings Attached

HP Touchpad TabletLooks like anyone that’s hoping to snag a HP TouchPad tablet at the fire sale price can expect to purchase more than one PC in order to get it.

TigerDirect announced their new HP TouchPad deal, which offers shoppers the opportunity to buy a HP TouchPad for $149 if they buy a qualifying HP laptop or desktop computer at the same time.

However, folks ready to jump at the deal may want to stop and read the fine print:

  • You will be paying the HP TouchPad’s full retail price of $299 at checkout.

  • You will have to remember to send in a mail-in rebate for $150 to ultimately get the fire sale price of $149.

At least it’s the 32GB version, right?

Best Buy recently advertised a similar deal, although their savings appeared to be instant.

If you’re looking to get the HP TouchPad only, you may want to check Amazon for the best deals. The HP TouchPad prices may not be as low as $99 or even $149, but they’re at least lower than TigerDirect’s retail price.

Will you be buying a HP TouchPad or are you going to go for a different tablet?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @hyphenet and “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news.

Don't Buy Antivirus Software from Spam Emails or Suspicious Websites

Warning! Do not buy antivirus software from spam or suspicious websites.Today’s lesson? Don’t  buy antivirus software from unsolicited emails or suspicious looking websites.

Kaspersky Lab Experts recently posted a warning about spam emails going around that offer a rogue antivirus application called “Best Antivirus Online.”

According to the post, the email was decorated in Kaspersky’s signature colors and style, topped off with a spoofed sender’s address, “”

However, it seems the crooks behind this scam may have been sending out similar emails masquerading as legitimate offers for Symantec’s line of antivirus solutions as well, considering the landing page looked more like it was built for the makers of Norton antivirus.

Regardless of the genuine antivirus software that the rogue application was attempting to mimick, the end result will remain the same.

“To buy the program, the user had to enter their credit card details and email address so they could receive further instructions.” Maria Namestnikova of Kaspersky Labs wrote, “We followed these step as part of our investigations, but received no more instructions at the email address we specified. It is quite possible that users could have received more instructions on how to download the fake antivirus at the time the spam was active.”

Oddly enough, by Googling “best antivirus online” I found, which looks nearly identical to the webpage in the post by Kaspersky Lab Experts.

Screenshot from Kaspersky Post vs Screenshot

Despite the website having a rather clean design, it still throws a number of red flags:

  • Performing a “WHOIS” domain lookup reveals that the individual that registered the domain is using WhoisGuard. Typically scammers use a whois lookup protection service when registering domains to stay out of their victim’s reach.

  • The website has the following disclaimer the index page (but nowhere else?): “Disclaimer: This website has no affiliation whatsoever with the owner of this software program and does not re-sell or license software. All software is freeware and/or shareware with the understanding that the user may need or want to pay for it later. Membership is for unlimited access to our site's resources. We provide an organized website with links to third party freeware and shareware software, technical support, tutorials and step by step guides.The website is owned and operated by Certo Business Solutions B.V”

  • By Googling “Certo Business Solutions B.V”, I came across the following Google forum post.

If that doesn’t scream scam at you, I don’t know what will.

If you’re looking to buy antivirus protection for your computer, it’s best that you purchase it directly from the vendor or from a well-established reseller. Otherwise you may be paying for some fake antivirus software that either doesn’t do anything or is simply malware in disguise. That's if the scammers deliver anything at all.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest internet scams.

Digital Certificate Stolen from Malaysian Government Used to Sign Malware

[caption id="attachment_1741" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Screenshot Credit F-Secure"]File Properties for Malware Signed with Stolen Government Certificates[/caption]

Researchers at F-Secure have discovered that a code signing certificate stolen from the Government of Malaysia is being used to sign malware.

Malware that has been signed with a code signing certificate can be troublesome as they’re typically trusted more than an unsigned application. Warnings are displayed to the end-user if they attempt to open an unsigned application downloaded from the web. However, there’s nothing to show if the program is signed.

Stumbling across signed malware is quite the rarity, let alone malware toting the official keys of a stolen government certificate.

According to F-Secure, the certificate used to sign the malware being spread belongs to the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute and is reported to have been stolen “a long time ago.”

The file properties on the sample analyzed by F-Secure researchers show:
Publisher: Adobe Systems Incorporated
Copyright: Copyright (C) 2010
Product: Adobe Systems Apps
File version: 8, 0, 12, 78
Comments: Product of Adobe Systems

The signing info reads:

Digisign Server ID (Enrich)
GTE CyberTrust Global Root
Signing date: 5:36 24/08/2011

The malware, identified as Trojan-Downloader:W32/Agent.DTIW , is being spread via malicious PDF files and exploits a known vulnerability within Adobe Reader 8 to take hold of the targeted machine. The Trojan then opens up a backdoor and downloads additional malware from a server at

Some of the additional malware that’s downloaded are also signed, although the signatures belong to and not the Government of Malaysia.

Thankfully the stolen certificate used on this particular piece of malware expired on September 29th, 2011, although this serves as a reminder that just because an application is signed doesn't mean that it's safe.

You can see the full report from F-Secure here.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news and computer security threats.

Buy of the Week: Lenovo IdeaPad S100 1067

This offer expired on November 18th, 2011. To check out our current deal, click the banner ad at the top of the page!

Lenovo Ideapad S100 1067The IdeaPad S100's full-size AccuType keyboard will ensure you have less typos in that important document you need to send out in a flash. Its 720p HD webcam that make video chats come alive, and long battery life, mean you can be in touch with your family and friends anywhere, anytime. Plus, the S100 is powered by the energy-efficient Intel Atom dual core processor.

For a limited time, you can order a new Lenovo IdeaPad S100 1067 from Hyphenet for only $310, plus shipping!

Call Hyphenet at (619) 325-0990 to order your Lenovo IdeaPad S100 1067 today!

Specifications for the Lenovo IdeaPad S100 1067

ProductLenovo IdeaPad S100 1067 Laptop
Display10.1” Widescreen LED backlit
TFT 1024 x 600 (WSVGA)
Processor1.66GHz Intel Atom N455
Harddrive250GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
Graphics CardIntel GMA 3150 Graphics
Audio2x Integrated Stereo Speakers
1x Integrated Digital Microphone
1x 1/8" (3.5mm) Headphone Output
1x 1/8" (3.5mm) Microphone Input
CameraBuilt-in Webcam (0.3MP)
802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Battery6-Cell Lithium-Ion Providing up to 5 Hours per Charge
Operating SystemGenuine Windows 7 Starter 32-Bit

Don't miss out on this Buy of the Week! Call Hyphenet at (619) 325-0990 to order your Lenovo IdeaPad S100 1067!

Buy of the Week offer valid through November 18th, 2011.

* Shipping and taxes may apply.

This offer expired on November 18th, 2011. To check out our current deal, click the banner ad at the top of the page!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spam Sure Has Evolved Over the Years [INFOGRAPHIC]

When you stop to take a look back as to how far spam has come along, you can't help but to fear what's to come.

According to the infographic created by Marketo, an email marketing software provider, spam started off relatively slow and only snowballed into the pesky offspring of botnets we battle today thanks to the rapid development of modern day technology.

Back when the telegraph was the main form of communication, spam was reserved mostly for the wealthy Americans who had the means to afford shady investment offers conjured up by crooks where-as nowadays we're all worthy targets of spam emails containing a variety of phishing scams as internet con-artists are willing to settle for a couple hundred bucks.

Don't forget to pick your jaw up off the floor once you see just how much spam has evolved and be sure that you check out the tips at the bottom to avoid being labeled as a spammer:

Evolution of Spam [INFOGRAPHIC]


Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest internet scams.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Look! It's a bird, it's a Southwest Airlines plane! No! It's a Facebook Scaaaaam!

Southwest AirlinesSome of the best things in life may be free, but 2 tickets for Southwest Airlines is not one of them.

Internet scammers looking to make money either by committing identity theft or earning commission on completed online surveys are offering a pair of free Southwest Airline tickets in order to trick people into divulging personal information.

Like most survey scams, they’re using the popular Facebook social networking site in order to spread their evil-doings.

If you happen to see this message (or something similar to it) popup on your Facebook page, be sure to ignore it:

Southwest Airline Ticket Spam
Receive 2 FREE Southwest Airline Tickets Today!

For a limited time you can receive 2 FREE Southwest Airline Tickets good for any travel within the USA! Don't wait, this is a one time free gift offered just in time for the Holidays!

Keep in mind that crooks tend to use more than one domain name to advertise their survey scams, so additional URL’s may be in use.

It’s the same ol’ scam story once you click the link in the spam message – you’re taken to a webpage that requests that you extend the life of the scam by sharing it with all of your Facebook friends and help build credibility to persuade future victims by posting a comment.

The scammers expect everyone to fall in line and follow the leader after that -- kind of how the critters did in that Lemmings game from the 90's.

Page Offering Free Southwest Airline Tickets

After posting a comment, you will be redirected to another page that starts off slow by asking just for your email address.

Enter Your Email for Free Southwest Airline Tickets! (Not.)

However, once you click ‘continue’, you’ll be asked a far more intrusive set of questions including your name, address, date of birth, along with both your mobile and home phone numbers. While the page claims that the information you provide will not be used for any purpose beyond sending you your tickets, those who are smart enough to read between the lines will realize that’s a flat out lie.

Scammer says, 'Gimme all your info for 2 free Southwest Airline tickets! Muahaha!!'

Just like the offer for 2 FREE Southwest Airline tickets. For you see, hidden in the block of fine print at the bottom of the page it states that you must follow a series of steps including completing 13 “reward offers” and resisting the urge to cancel more than 2 of them within a 30-day period.

Those “reward offers” are quite misleading, as the only one who will reap the “rewards” of whatever is being offered is the company that you’ll be forced to start a paid subscription with. That’s where requirement that you don’t cancel your services within the first 30-days comes in – it’s typically the length of any given trial period.

Ah, yes, it’s starting to make sense now, eh?

If you’ve fallen for this scam, then it’s recommended that you:

  1. Delete the spam message from your Facebook wall.

  2. Watch out for future scams that may arrive via email or snail mail since you provided both your email and physical address. You should also watch for signs of identity theft.

  3. Warn your friends and family members not to click on any links related to this scam – let alone give out any personal information.

  4. Avoid following links in messages that offer deals that “appear too good to be true” or some insane video that will blow your mind or lose respect for some celebrity as they typically lead to survey scam or even malware.

If you see a friend or family member posting this scam on Facebook, alert them that it is nothing more than a survey scam and refer them to the 4 steps above.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest security threats.

What is a Botnet, Drive-by-Download, or DDoS Attack? Familiarize yourself with more PC security terms.

What is a botnet, drive-by-download, DDoS attack, keylogger or rootkit?You may have heard about the recent DDoS attack carried out by the well-known hacktivist group Anonymous or that humongous botnet consisting of over 4,000,000 computers that the FBI just brought down.  However, as you’re reading the articles you may be thinking to yourself, “What the heck is a botnet or DDoS attack?!”

Well, here’s your answer – along with the definitions of a few other tech terms you’re likely to encounter:


A botnet is a collection of PCs that are infected with malware allowing a hacker to control them remotely. Typically botnet operators use their army of zombie computers to carry out DDoS attacks and send out spam.

You may have heard of the Rustock and Kelihos botnets that were dismantled earlier this year?


A drive-by –download takes place when a user visits a website that hosts one or more exploits targeting potential vulnerabilities within the visiting machine - whether it’s the web browser or a browser add-on like Java.

If the visiting computer is vulnerable, malware will be downloaded onto their machine, usually without the end-user’s knowledge.

DDoS (Denial-of-Service) Attack

Imagine it’s Black Friday and a huge mob of shoppers are all rushing to the door at the same time to get in. The huge group of flailing arms and limbs, kicking and screaming as they all try to squeeze through prevent anyone else from gaining entry.

That pretty much sums up what a DDoS attack is – a denial of service (or website, in this case). The bad guys usually carry out DDoS attacks with the help of botnets.


A keylogger does exactly what its name implies, which is to log any keystrokes typed by the user of an infected machine. Keyloggers typically come bundled with Trojan Horses and are used by cybercrooks to harvest sensitive information like account logins and banking details from infected computers.


The term ‘rootkit’ stems from a combination of “root”, which refers to the all-powerful Admin account on Unix systems and “kit”, which refers to a set of programs that allow someone to maintain root-level access on a PC.

Rootkits are often used by malware authors to gain admin privileges on a computer and evade detection, whether it’s from the end-user or any residing antivirus protection software.

Great, now I'm afraid to do anything on my PC. Now what?

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with more of the dangers lurking around every mouse-click and keystroke, you can take the steps necessary to make sure your PC is safe and secure.

Thankfully keeping your computer safe from malware isn’t difficult. However it does require the use of a few tools and a dash of common sense.

  1. Make sure you’re running up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software that offers must-have features like real-time scanning, a personal firewall and email filtering.

  2. Minimize the chances of your computer having any vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malware by ensuring that all system and program updates are downloaded and installed.

  3. Refrain from opening any email attachments that appear to be suspicious and make sure you manually scan any email attachments you do wish to download prior to opening them.

  4. Think twice about following any links that your gut instinct tells you not to, especially if it’s on a social networking site as that’s one of the favorite ways for cybercrooks to spread malware.

  5. Opt to download software from their legitimate vendors vs. using pirated copies as the bad guys are known for tacking malware onto software they then share via P2P networks.

  6. Set system restore points and back up all of your precious data as you never know when they’ll come in handy.

Be sure to follow us“like” us or circle us to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news and security threats.

How Will You Celebrate 11/11/11?

I'm always looking at the clock at 11:11!Today folks around the world are celebrating the same-numbered palindrome date of 11/11/11 in one way or another.

Nerds everywhere are basking in the fact that it’s the only binary date they’ll experience, for the next binary-friendly day won’t be for another 89 years (January 1, 2100 or 1/1/2100).

More spiritual beings will have their eyes, ears and hearts open for some kind of important life sign or spiritual awakening. Egypt went so far as closing The Great Pyramid of Giza has following rumors that groups were planning on conducting “strange rituals” there on 11/11/11!

Americans will be celebrating Veterans Day, honoring their military veterans for their service and sacrifice while other parts of the world observe Remembrance Day to remember those who fell in the line of duty and the official end of World War I.

Shoppers may be making their way to the nearest store or theatre to check out the latest gadgets, games and movies that are dropping on this historical day:

Gadgets & Games Releasing on 11/11/11

Movies Hitting Theatres on 11/11/11

  • 11/11/11 (Limited release)

  • Immortals

  • J. Edgar

  • Jack and Jill

How will you be celebrating this historical date? Share your thoughts, plans and feelings below!

Photo credit: c.e.b.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news, computer security threats and fun posts like this one. :P

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Technology Can Be Very, Very Gross [INFOGRAPHIC]

Sometimes we forget just how disgusting the world is.

When you sit down at your computer and start typing away on your keyboard, do you think about how keyboards are known to be FIVE times dirtier than a toilet seat? Yes, the same place you park it in order to make donations to the porcelain Gods.

Or what about the fact that 16% of cell phones were found to have poop on them? You know that device you put next to your face when you call up your best friend to gossip? Yuck!!

Take a gander at what tech germs you’re exposing yourself to in this infographic created by and don't forget to give your gadgets a good wiping every once in awhile.

Tech Germs Infographic

Be sure to follow us @hyphenet“like” us or circle us to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news and security threats.

Viruses, Trojans and Scareware – Oh My! The Differences Between the Computer Threats Roaming About

Viruses Chase Us AllAs a computer user, you’re bound to come across terms such as ‘malware’, ‘adware’, ‘spyware’, or ‘virus’ – among others.

After all, the internet is riddled with warnings about the latest Trojan horse stomping its way onto user’s PCs and bringing all of its malware buddies or that nasty worm causing billions of dollars in damage.

Beyond knowing that the computer threats running amok can be anything from extremely annoying to downright devastating to computer users, do you know the difference between them?

Let’s go down the list.


Malware is short for “malicious software” and is a blanket term used for any type of computer threat, whether it’s a virus, spyware, adware, scareware, or worm.

Malware is created with the intent of damaging, disrupting or stealing data from your computer.


Adware is a form of malware that serves up advertisements on the infected PC. Adware is commonly bundled up with free programs (like MSN Messenger), presumably to help keep them free as the authors of the program you’re downloading likely generate revenue through ad impressions or clicks.

Typically you can avoid having adware piggybacking on free applications you download by unchecking options within the installation dialogs, but you’ll also find some adware prefers to sneak in without permission.


Read the first three letters of the name and you already know what it was built to do – “spy” on you and your computer activities.

Yes, spyware is planted on the machines of unsuspecting users to monitor your browsing and search history, reset your browser home page or in some cases plant a keylogger to steal sensitive information like your banking details and account passwords. No privacy for you!


Scareware is malware that’s posing as a legitimate antivirus solution that claims your PC is infected with hundreds of viruses that can only be removed if you purchase a full license. Like the name suggests, scareware feeds off the fear of the infected user in order to generate revenue for its authors.

You may have heard of the rogue application, “Security Sphere 2012” which was recently reported to rake in over $1million per month for the crooks behind it.

Trojan [Horse]

Trojan Horses pose as innocent programs that will do you no harm, only to later spring their trap to do all kinds of evil things like open up a backdoor to allow someone else to remotely control it or download additional malware to do even more damage.

Knowing that, I guess it’s not too difficult to figure out where Trojans got their name.


A computer virus is a self-replicating program designed to infect PCs and cause a world of trouble – from corrupting files and causing errors to flat out destroying hardware and rendering the PC inoperable.

Viruses commonly come attached to executable files (.exe) and require user-interaction (like running the program) in order for the virus to become active and spread.


Like viruses, worms are self-replicating programs created to wreak havoc on your computer. However, they do NOT have to attach themselves to a program and do not require any user-interaction in order to spread.

Worms use computer networks to spread from PC to PC, or even servers – often times making their way into the machines by exploiting system vulnerabilities.

Well-known worms include Conficker, SQL Slammer and the ILOVEYOU worm.

Avoiding the Dangers

Now that you’ve brushed up on your computer threat technology you may be tempted to shut off your PC and disconnect it from the internet, right? That won’t be necessary.

With the bad comes the good, which in this case is a list of steps that you can take in order to protect your PC from the latest malware threat:

  1. Always run up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software on your machine and perform system scans often.

  2. Be sure to install any system and program updates to avoid malware from exploiting any system vulnerabilities that could’ve easily been patched with an update.

  3. Don’t open unexpected email attachments and be sure to scan any attachments you do decide to download BEFORE opening them.

  4. Exercise caution when following links to suspicious websites or content – especially if they’re found on social networking sites as they’re often a breeding ground for malware.

  5. Avoid using pirated software as evil doers have been known to lace them with malware.

  6. Make sure you back up your computer – and do it often! You just never know.

Be sure to follow us @hyphenet"like" us or circle us to stay up-to-date on the latest tech news and security threats.

Did you know? Hyphenet offers virus removal services to help you get your PC back to normal. Give us a call at (619) 325-0990.

Photo Credit: Bruno Biagioni Neto

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Giveaway on Facebook Offers Boots £50 Voucher & Malware

Boots UK LogoFacebook users should be on the lookout for another “free” offer that will not only promote spam, but infect your PC with a Trojan that will open a backdoor on your machine in order to download additional malicious content.

The spam message luring unsuspecting Facebook users into this dangerous malware-laden trap offers a £50 voucher for Boots, which is a popular healthcare and pharmaceutical chain in the UK:

Facebook Boots £50 Voucher Giveaway Spam
Boots £50 Voucher Giveaway
As Christmas is approaching we are giving away 1250 vouchers to some lucky people, maybe you?

Please note that the cybercrooks behind this scam mean business and have setup over 15 domains that all lead to the very same trap. The URLs being used are:
















Once you visit one of the URLs listed above, you’ll be presented with the same cookie-cutter page asking you to share this special offer with all of your Facebook pals and give thanks to the crook that setup this scam.

Boots £50 Voucher Giveaway

It’s important that you do NOT share this scam or post a comment as you will be immediately redirected to another page that attempts to drop a dangerous payload on your machine.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4 identified the malicious content that will attempt to force its way onto your computer as the HTML/ScrInject.B.Gen virus, aka Adware.Windupdates to Norton antivirus users.

Once HTML/ScrInject.B.Gen (or Adware.Windupdates) makes its way onto your PC, it will open up a backdoor to download and install additional malware, spyware or any other dangerous content that will wreak havoc on your system.

What should I do if I’ve already clicked the Boots £50 Voucher Offer?

If you were duped into believing you could win a free £50 voucher for Boots, it’s highly recommended that you follow the steps below:

  1. Delete any Facebook Wall posts and private messages that advertise the Boots £50 Voucher offer. This will keep your friends and family members from being exposed to the scam and the malware it promotes.

  2. Verify that your antivirus software is up-to-date and do a full system scan to search for any viruses, malware, spyware, or any other malicious content that may have made its way onto your computer.

  3. Warn your friends and family members not to click any links related to the £50 Boots Voucher offer and instruct them to run a system scan on their computer if they have done so already.

  4. Avoid following links that offer free gift certificates and “crazy” videos on Facebook as they typically wind up to be nothing more than a survey scam or a way for crooks to spread malware and any other dangerous content they wish to spread.

You should always run a full antivirus suite on your PC that offers real-time scanning and a personal firewall. As you can see, failure to do so can easily result in your computer being infected.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet or “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest security threats.