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used with permission from FTC.gov., by Andrew Smith, Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection

Mention the word “ransomware” at a meeting of small business owners and you’ll feel the temperature in the room drop by 20 degrees. A ransomware attack is a chilling prospect that could freeze you out of the files you need to run your business. When FTC staff met with business owners across the country, you cited ransomware as a particular concern. New resources from the FTC can help protect your company from this threat.

Ransomware: How It Happens

What is a ransomware attack? It can start innocently enough. An employee clicks on a link, downloads an email attachment, or visits a website where malicious code is lurking in the background. With just one keystroke, they inadvertently install software that locks you out of your own files. The cyber crook then demands a ransom, often in the form of cryptocurrency.  Read more...


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used with permission from Microsoft On the Issues, by Athima Chansanchai

A message pops up on your screen. It screams that your computer is at risk or has been infected by a virus. Or, you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from tech support.

And then, before you know it, responding to these warnings has delivered your passwords and personal information to scammers, your PC is under their control and now they’re extorting you by peddling bogus security software and services.

A new Microsoft survey of 16 countries released this month, focused on tech support scams and their impact on consumers, shows less people are now susceptible to these scams. And the percentage of respondents who’ve been exposed to them is decreasing. Overall, people are losing less money. This 2018 Global Tech Support Scam Research report follows an earlier one Microsoft released in 2016.

Just in time for October, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, this research revealed consumers have developed a healthy skepticism about unsolicited contact from technology and software companies.  Read more...


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used with permission from Microsoft Safety & Security Center

malware_symptomsIf your computer starts to behave strangely, you might be experiencing spyware symptoms or have other unwanted software installed on your computer. Here are a few tips on how to detect malicious software:

  • I see pop-up advertisements all the time. Some unwanted software will bombard you with pop-up ads that aren’t related to a particular website you’re visiting. These ads are often for adult or other websites you may find objectionable. If you see pop-up ads as soon as you turn on your computer or when you’re not even browsing the web, you might have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer.
  • My settings have changed and I can’t change them back to the way they were. Some unwanted software can change your home page or search page settings. Even if you adjust these settings, you might find that they revert back every time you restart your computer.
  Read more...

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Researchers at AVG got an interesting visitor while analyzing a virus. The virus programmer popped in for a chat.

In the AVG labs, they had installed a virus (that impostors itself as an instructional video for the new video game, Diablo 3) to take a look at what it does and see how it works. While doing so, the virus programmer used a chat built into the virus to peek his head in at what they were doing. “What are you doing? Are you researching my trojan?” was written in Chinese in a window that popped up in the middle of the screen. The back doors installed by the virus included the ability to see their screen, monitor keyboard and mouse input; even the ability to turn on and view any attached web-cam. After some banter, the remote hacker shut down the virtual machine to punctuate the end of the conversation.  Read more...