US Botnet Hacker Jailed

hackerWell a bot… oops bit of good news on the spam front is that a hacker who sold a huge list of 70k+ of infected PCs to to spammers has been jailed in the USA, and good I say too as these people cause misery for many novice PC users as they can have personal data including banking information stolen from them.

I personally would not let him use a PC ever again and not a 3yr supervisory order, as I think for this level of criminality it should be one strike and your out!

“A US hacker who sold access to thousands of hijacked home computers has been jailed for 30 months.

Joshua Schichtel of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced for renting out more than 72,000 PCs that he had taken over using computer viruses.

Millions of PCs are enrolled in these networks, known as botnets, and many help to send out junk mail messages.

Schichtel’s customers installed their own malicious software on the PCs to aid their own cybercrime efforts.

As well as going to prison for 30 months, Schichtel was also sentenced to a three-year supervised release programme that he will serve after leaving jail. The supervision will tightly control his access to computers and the net.

In a brief statement about the case, the US Department of Justice said Schichtel pleaded guilty to one count of selling access to 72,000 machines that formed part of a bigger botnet he controlled.”

If you have any comments on this story then please do post a comment as I’m always interested in hearing other computer users thoughts on malware, spam and hacking.

Read the full article at BBC Technology News HERE

O2 Wallet

O2 have today released information of their offering in the mobile electronic area, with “O2 Wallet”, they are to release an app for this for various mobile phones. As an O2 customer in the UK, I like this sort of new ideas on how to shop and this look forward to testing out when released.

O2 Wallet_1 O2 Wallet_3

O2 Wallet_8

“O2 today announced the launch of O2 Wallet – a seamless and secure digital wallet service that will deliver the benefits of mobile money to more UK consumers than any other product or service currently available.

O2 Wallet uniquely combines the following functions:

  • Money Message – O2 Wallet enables consumers to securely transfer money to any UK mobile phone number as easily as sending a text. Money Messages allow consumers to make daily transfers of between £1 and £500; and will make lending, borrowing or repaying money to friends and family easier than ever.
  • Shopping via your mobile – O2 Wallet makes shopping via your mobile a breeze. A comprehensive barcode and search engine function compares the prices of millions of branded goods from more than 100 online retailers. In addition, consumers will enjoy unique daily discounts and deals via the ‘My Offers’ icon. At launch these will include discounts and money-off offers from retailers such as Debenhams, Comet, Sainsbury’s Direct, and Tesco Direct.
  • Your phone as your wallet – O2 Wallet enables consumers to digitise their existing debit and credit cards making it quick and easy to pay for things via their mobile. Customers can load money into their O2 Wallet account via one of their debit cards, by receiving a Money Message or with cash at more than 30,000 locations including O2 stores, PayPoint and epay retail outlets. O2 Wallet’s ‘transaction history’ helps consumers keep on top of their expenditure with texts alerts when the account balance changes; a 30-day payment history on the app; and a 12-month history online.
  • O2 Money Account Card – O2 Wallet offers both a physical and a virtual O2 Money Account Card. Both are based on a Visa prepaid account making them ideal for customers wanting to manage their finances as they can only spend what they put in. The ‘virtual’ O2 Money Visa Account Card is perfect for online shopping. Consumers can also apply for the physical O2 Money Visa Account Card to pay for things on the high street or withdraw cash from ATMs. This is a contactless card allowing tap-and-go payments at more than 100,000 contactless payment points across the UK; it’s fast, easy and convenient.”

Read the full press release at O2 HERE

How to keep spam and junk from your Hotmail email account

HotmailEmail spam is a sad fact these days of the internet and those wishing to try and either infect you with malware to try and steal your hard earned cash from your bank, to conning you in to sending cash to some random Nigerian prince who has left you $1m in a will.

So how can you protect yourself, well if you have Microsoft’s Hotmail email (other email services such as Gmail, Yahoo etc can do similar) then you can use the hints and tips from the link below to read how to, “sweep it away”, “Manage Folders” to “Find and Filter email”.

Hotmail wantedunwanted

“Whether you’re a filer who keeps things tidy, or a piler with a bursting inbox, Hotmail has tools to help you get more done, so you can focus on the things that matter.

Sweep your way to a clean inbox

Do you dread opening your inbox after a long vacation? Luckily, Hotmail comes with Sweep, so you can automatically clean out your inbox whenever it needs it.

Imagine a world with no spammers

It’s hard to find important messages when your inbox is full of junk. That’s why Hotmail has taken a hammer to spam. With Microsoft SmartScreen—that’s the technology that governments and businesses use to fight spam—Hotmail now blocks 98 percent of all spam that tries to enter your inbox.

Follow up on important messages

Each day, new messages arrive and push down older ones in your inbox. When you flag a message, it stays at the top of your inbox until you decide what to do with it. That keeps you on track and on top of your busy life.”

Read the full guide and tips HERE

Tech Support Phone Scams

Scam AlertToday I was reminded of the scams that can go around and the tech support one is one of the most commonly used ones and is sadly still used today!

So things to look out for….

Do not  trust unsolicited calls, do not province any personal information.                                                                                                                             

Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

More information HERE

Can you spot a Phishing website?

Privacy 001Are you a Phishing Ninja or a Phishing Pole?  well in this day and cyber-age it has become a very major issue in that criminal gangs now find it much easier to try and steal your personal information to allow access to your Bank account etc. than to come rob your home.

Phishing is one such way that they try this and at times if you are unsuspecting or a novice to the perils of the internet age this can be very difficult to know if a website is real or not.

OpenDNS have a quick test to see if you can spot the Phishing (fake) from the Real website of many a company you may use. Click the link below to take the test.

OpenDNS Phishing Quiz

Here is my result below, yeah I’m a sneeky silent Ninja!! 

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but then I do have knowledge of what Phishing websites look like and how to tell them apart from genuine sites, a few tips are below.

  • Your bank, Financial, Shopping sites will not send you emails asking for you to verify or re-enter your username or password.
  • Companies like Microsoft will not email you to say your PC is not up to date or has malware/virus.
  • Check the website address in and email by hovering over it with your mouse and if its not the same as your normal websites then its not real, and if its in the form of an IP address (123.123.123.123) as an example then defiantly do not click.
  • Check the email address that sent you this email, is it actually from the company or not, as an example this is one I was sent from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today.

phish1

Note that the email address in the senders position is not the same as the one to reply too, which looks genuine but is not, so if you do get one of these emails but are a non-US citizen then delete, if you are a US citizen its worth letting the actual phishing side of the IRS know and email is HERE on this page.

So best practice is to double check any emails that are asking for finance details and user name and passwords via phone, in person or to the actual companies fraud, phishing customer service dept.

More info on how to spot a Phishing attempt from Microsoft HERE

Rustock Spammers Sought

spam-e-mailThe Rustock spamming botnet was one of the biggest spamming nets in the world until its takedown in February of 2011, this has seen many users have slightly less spam email in their inbox than usual.

Now the authorities and companies involved with the removal of this botnet are after the creators, who that say may number in the handful.

The Rustock botnet, which sent up to 30 billion spam messages per day, might have been run by two or three people.

“It does not look like there were more than a couple of people running it to me,” said Alex Lanstein, a senior engineer at security firm FireEye, which helped with the investigation into Rustock.

That work by FireEye, Microsoft, Pfizer and others culminated on 16 February with simultaneous raids on data centres in seven US cities that seized 96 servers which had acted as the command and control (C&C) system for Rustock.

Read the full article at BBC Technology News HERE