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Protect Yourself against the Growing Cyber-Crime Black Market

Global IT Vendor Panda Security has launched a campaign against the ever growing world of cyber-crime. The campaign aims to educate both businesses and home users about the dangers of cyber-crime, and the ways in which becoming a victim of its growth may be avoided.

“Cyber-crime preys on unsuspecting users”, says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations. “That’s why these campaigns are so important-they provide very necessary and useful information that may help many individuals and businesses avoid becoming victims.”

Trojans: The Tools of the Trade

The year 2003 saw the creation of the first banker Trojan. Since then, Trojans have become one of the most common types of malware, accounting for 71% of all threats, because they are the best tool for hackers and organisations involved in identity and detail theft. Every day, increasingly sophisticated variants emerge, designed to evade the security measures put in place by banks, online stores, pay platforms, etc. The reason for this rapid growth is clearly profit based.

How the Cyber-crime Black Market Works

Online mafias are highly organised and strategic with regards to their operations and deployment. Not only do they seem like real companies, they operate across the globe, throwing their nets wide.

The cyber-crime black market works in a two step process. Step one involves the creation of malware and it distribution to potential victims. The heads of the criminal organisations hire hackers and programmers to create malware like Trojans, bots and spam. This malware is then usually spread through email and social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Twitter. Once a victim has been caught in the trap, their confidential information is stolen and then stored for sale on a server.

In step two, the confidential data is sold on underground sites. The black market offers confidential personal data from as little as $2 but it can reach prices exceeding $700. Often, money is stolen directly from victims’ bank accounts. In this case, money mules are used to forward the stolen funds in exchange for commission. Sometimes these mules do not know that they are moving funds illegally until they are caught and used as scapegoats in the event of arrests being made. Finally, the stolen funds are transferred into the hands of the gang leaders through services like Western Union.

Panda’s Security Advice

While the spread of cyber-crime is increasing, there are a few precautions one can take to stave off becoming a victim.

Precautions such as memorising your passwords, instead of saving them on your PC can minimise your risk. Users are also advised to never give away personal information telephonically or on the internet if the company or website is unknown.

Closing all your browser sessions and working with just one at a time can also decrease your chance of being lured into a fake website.

Lastly, if you get any suspicious messages from the bank, an online store or a payment platform, contact the customer relations department from the company it was supposedly sent from. If this suspicious activity persists, or if you notice any unusual account transactions, do not hesitate to inform your bank.

“Cyber-crime is a scary reality but those who take the time to inform themselves and then take the necessary precautions advised on the mini-site should remain safe”, concludes Matthews.

The mini-site also includes a link to scan your personal or business PC for infections and is available at: http://cybercrime.pandasecurity.com/blackmarket/index.php

For more information about Panda, visit http://www.pandasecurity.com/.

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Panda marks Universal Children’s Day with web safety advice for kids

Panda Security marked Universal Children’s Day on the 20th of November with advice to children on how to use the Internet responsibly and ensure they enjoy the Web as safely as possible. This initiative from Panda Security aims to promote responsible and secure use of the Internet among young people, and is part of the company’s “Kids on the Web” campaign (www.kidsontheweb.com).

With this in mind, Panda offers this simple, practical guide to children:

  1. Don’t click suspicious links. When using instant messaging programs (such as MSN Messenger or any other chat application) or you receive an email, never click directly on any links. If the message or email comes directly from someone you know, then type the address in the browser. If you don’t know the person that it has come from, the best thing to do is to ignore it.
  2. It is dangerous to download or run files from unknown sources. You have probably gotten instant messages inviting you to download a photo, a song or a video. This file could have been sent by a dangerous program that has infected a friend’s computer and which is trying to spread to other users. Just in case, the best thing to do is ask your friend if they have really sent something. If they haven’t, let them know that they are infected so they can delete the file.
  3. Don’t speak to strangers. In chat rooms, social networks or across instant messaging, you can never be completely sure who you’re speaking to, as you can’t see them. Especially in online communities, where people have never met in real life. Never make friends with strangers, and never ever arrange to meet them in real life.
  4. Don’t send private information across the Internet. Never send private information (your address or phone number, etc.) via email or instant messaging, and never publish this kind of information in a blog or on a forum. You should also take care when you create profiles for sites such as Facebook or Myspace. You should never include information such as your age or your address.
  5. If you have the slightest doubt, be careful. If a program you don’t remember installing begins to display false infections or pop-ups inviting you to buy some type of product, be wary. You probably have some type of malware installed on your computer.
  6. Don’t browse the Web alone. If you’re going to search on the Internet, it’s much better to get an adult to guide and advise you on where to look. It is far more secure to visit trustworthy and official sites rather than unknown Web pages.
  7. Talk to your parents or teachers. If you see something suspicious or you receive a nasty or dangerous email, speak to an adult. They will be able to advise you.

“Many young children have online acces and the ‘digital gap’ between parents and children is exposing many young people to the dangers of the Internet”, explains Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations. “We need to make sure our children can enjoy the Web in a healthy way. We always advise that the best way to achieve this is for parents and children to have a relationship based on trust, so it is not necessary to be constantly monitoring kids while they’re on social networks and the like”, he concludes.

More information at www.pandalabs.com

For more information about Panda, visit http://www.pandasecurity.com/.

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Teens use ‘Code 9’ to block Parents on Social Networks

  • ‘Code 9’ advises kids and teenagers on how to stop parents from seeing what they are doing and writing on social networks

A few years ago, a technique called ‘Code 9′ was developed and spread among teens and children via email. These emails described techniques to help disguise and hide their chat messages and conversations from parents. Global IT vendor Panda Security has detected the resurgence of these messages, which are now being distributed across social networks like Facebook and Myspace.

According to the latest Kids on the Web security survey, published by Panda in June this year, one in three teenagers has contacted strangers across social networks, “Something that criminal minds are no doubt aware of and will exploit to contact children”, warns Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations.

“Interestingly, when you visit the profiles and pages created to spread ‘Code 9’ and you look at the followers and friends, there aren’t many young people. In fact it’s quite the opposite, which gives us an indication as to the sort of people who are interested in distributing this type of information”.

‘Code 9’ itself is really simple: It tells children/teens that to hide their conversations in chat rooms or messaging, all they need to do is mention or write the number ‘9’ whenever their parents or guardians are close by. The other person will then rapidly change the topic or delete any information exchanged.

Pic of a typical ‘Code 9’ message available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/panda_security/4879123608/

During the holiday periods, many children and teenagers spend more time than usual on the computer. This is a good time to ensure that our children are using the Internet safely and responsibly.

“We always advise that the best way to achieve this is for parents and children to have a relationship based on trust, so it is not necessary to be constantly monitoring kids while they’re on social networks and the like. It also helps to have an Internet Security product that allows parents to restrict access to unwanted sites”, concludes Matthews.  

Since 1990, Panda’s mission has been to detect and eliminate new threats as rapidly as possible, offering clients’ maximum security. To do so, Panda has an innovative automated system that analyzes and classifies thousands of new samples a day and returns automatic verdicts (malware or goodware). This system is the basis of Collective Intelligence, Panda Security’s new security model which can even detect malware that has evaded other security solutions.

Currently, 99.4% of malware detected by Panda is analyzed through this system of Collective Intelligence. This is complemented by the work of several teams, each specialized in a specific type of malware (viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, phishing, spam, etc), and who work 24/7 to provide global coverage. This translates into more secure, simpler and resource-friendly solutions for clients.

More information is available in the PandaLabs blog: http://www.pandalabs.com

For more information about Panda, visit http://www.pandasecurity.com/.