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Introducing Panda Cloud Antivirus Version 1.3

Latest release of fastest growing cloud antivirus service takes major step forward in consumer PC protection and convenience

Panda Security has announced the launch of Panda Cloud Antivirus version 1.3. The release features a new security safeguard against malicious websites, as well as improvements to the user experience, in both the Free and Pro Editions. Users of both Cloud Antivirus products will continue to benefit from the real-time protection with the minimal computer resource consumption that they have come to expect from Panda.

Adding another layer of cloud-based protection to both the Free and Pro editions, Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.3 has incorporated a URL and web filtering feature which blocks suspicious and malicious websites before they can exploit vulnerabilities and inflict damage upon the user. In addition, those using the Free Edition will now benefit from automatic and transparent upgrades to the latest program releases: a feature previously reserved for Panda Cloud Antivirus Pro. Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.3 has also removed all pop-up advertisements from the Free Edition: a usability benefit that has always been included in the Pro Edition.

“Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.3 Free Edition continues to provide the best no-cost protection, while the Pro Edition remains an excellent investment in home security at an affordable price point” , says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations.

In a recent comparative test of leading free antivirus programs conducted by AV-Test.org for its Q2 Product Review and Certification Report, Panda Security’s antivirus detection software earned the top spot, detecting 99.87 percent of the zoo malware collection, the highest from all products tested.

Panda Antivirus also continues to win prestigious industry awards and accolades for its ability to deliver real-time protection with minimal impact on PC performance. The product was most recently honored as a Runner-Up in the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards and is the reigning Editor’s Choice in PCMag.com’s free antivirus software category.

Both products are available now and can be downloaded at http://www.cloudantivirus.com.

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

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Trick or treat? Halloween can end up really damaging your PC

  • Computer pranks with applications that simulate a Trojan infection are invading the Web
  • “Paranormal Activity 2” and “Friday the 13th” used in BlackHat SEO attacks to download malware

As Halloween approaches, applications, fake websites, spam and Trojans all put on disguises to try to trick users. Global IT vendor Panda Security has been detecting attacks like these since August, with the most proliferate attacks listed below.

Halloween pranks used to spread terror…

Even though computer pranks are nothing new, they get massively distributed in the days leading up to Halloween, with the aim of scaring users. These applications are actually harmless, as they really do not contain any malware or Trojans.

They usually arrive at the targeted computer from one of the victim’s contacts, as a Halloween video file or an online greetings card, via email, or a social network. However, once the user has downloaded and installed the item, it displays a series of messages and screens informing the user that they have been infected by a Trojan.

On other occasions, a flash movie may simulate the deletion of all contents on the computer’s hard disk, while a spooky skull is displayed on the screen. The website that distributes this prank offers a video with instructions to configure the movie in order to make it even more realistic and frightening. 

In reality, these are just computer virus hoaxes. However, there is no doubt that users will be really scared to see their computer almost destroyed!

And the real threats…

On other occasions, attackers are using latest releases like “Paranormal Activity 2” or Halloween classics like “Friday the 13th” to distribute malware. 

Hackers are using these well-known Hollywood productions to launch Blackhat SEO attacks, exploiting popular topics in order to place malicious websites at the top of search results when users look for certain terms in search engines. If a user accesses the malicious website, a Trojan or fake antivirus is downloaded onto their computer. These attacks not only exploit horror movies, but any other Halloween-related items like party invitations, etc.

Halloween spam

Panda has also seen an increase in the massive distribution of Halloween-themed spam, used to trick users into giving away their personal data and buying fraudulent or illegal products, or just make money as many of these companies get revenue through pay-per-click systems.

Some tips to protect you

As always, having a great antivirus and taking some basic precautionary measures are the best ways to stay protected against both real and/ or fake threats.

Panda offers the following advice to users: 

  • Don’t open emails or messages received on social networks from unknown senders.
  • Do not click any links included in email messages, even though they may come from reliable sources. It is better to type the URL directly in the browser. This rule applies to messages received through any mail client, as well as those in Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks or messaging applications, etc.
  • If you do click on any such links, take a close look at the page you arrive at. If you don’t recognize it, close your browser.
  • Do not run attached files that come from unknown sources. In particular, watch out for any files with Halloween-related names.
  • Only buy online from sites that have a solid reputation and offer secure transactions, encrypting all information that is entered in the page. To check that the page is secure, look for the security certificate in the form of a small yellow padlock next to the toolbar or in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
  • Don’t use shared or public computers for making transactions or operations that require you to enter passwords or other personal details.
  • Have an effective security solution installed, capable of detecting both known and new malware strains.

Panda Security offers users several free tools for scanning computers for malware, like Panda Cloud Antivirus: www.cloudantivirus.com.

iTunes Used as Lure to Steal Banking Details

  • Apple’s popular service has become a target for hackers looking for confidential bank data
  • The email is a fake iTunes receipt corresponding to a purchase the user hasn’t made.

According to Panda Security, Apple’s popular iTunes platform has become the target of hackers looking to reach millions of potential victims -who every day enter their credit card details in this device- in order to steal this data and infect them.

Victims of this malware attack receive a cleverly crafted email informing them that they have made an expensive purchase using their iTunes device. The user, who has not made this purchase using the platform, is concerned by the email and rapidly tries to resolve the problem by clicking on a link in the email.

After clicking the link the user is asked to download a PDF reader, which is a fake. Once installed, this program redirects the user to infected Web pages (mostly Russian) containing banker Trojans among other malware which steal the user’s personal details. 

“Phishing is nothing new”, says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations. “What never ceases to surprise us is that the techniques used to trick victims continue to be so simple, although the design and content is often very well worked. It’s often difficult not to fall in the trap.”

Panda suggests that in order to avoid becoming a victim of this new attack, users should not enter platforms such as iTunes through email notifications. Rather, enter the website from the platform itself. This way, users can also check their account status in real time from the account itself, and thus recognize an attempt at phishing.

This technique has been reported to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, who has started to block some of the Web addresses linked to in the fake email. 

“We advise all users to be wary of any emails of this type, now matter how genuine they might seem”, concludes Matthews.

If you think you may have been affected, Panda advises you scan your computer thoroughly to locate any possible active threats. If you do not have an antivirus installed, you can use the free Panda Cloud Antivirus, available from www.cloudantivirus.com.

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

Follow Panda Security South Africa @PandaSecurityZA

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10 tell-tale signs of PC infection

  • Does your computer talk to you? Can’t use the Internet? Have your files disappeared? You might be infected…

Users are often advised to use an antivirus to check if their systems are infected, but with the current cyber-crime scenario, this is simply not enough.

“It takes a least a basic grasp of security issues to work out if a computer is infected, and many first-time users have little or no idea” says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations. “However, while many of today’s threats are specifically designed to go undetected, there are still some tell-tale signs if a system has been compromised.”

Global IT vendor Panda Security has produced a simple guide to the 10 most common symptoms of infection, to help users identify if their systems are at risk:

1. My computer speaks to me: There are all types of pop-ups and messages on the desktop either advertising things, saying that the PC is infected and needs protection etc. This is a typical, surefire case of an infection. There is either spyware on the computer, or it has been infected by a fake antivirus also known as “rogueware”.

2. My computer is running extremely slowly: This could be a symptom of many things, including infection by a virus. If it has been infected by a virus, worm or Trojan, among other things, which are running on the computer, they could be running tasks that consume a lot of resources, making the system run more slowly than usual.

3. Applications won’t start: How many times have you tried to run an application from the start menu or desktop and nothing happens? Sometimes another program might even run. This could be another type of problem, but it’s a symptom that tells you that something is wrong.

4. I cannot connect to the Internet or it runs very slowly: Loss of Internet communication is another common symptom of infection, although it could also be due to a problem with your service provider or router. You might also have a connection that runs much more slowly than usual. If you have been infected, the malware could be connecting to a URL or opening separate connection sessions, thereby reducing your available bandwidth or making it impossible to use the Internet.

5. When I connect to the Internet, all types of windows open or the browser displays pages I have not requested: This is certain sign of infection. Many threats are designed to redirect traffic to certain websites against the user’s will, and can even spoof Web pages, making you think you are on a legitimate site when really you have been taken to a malicious imitation. 

6. Where have my files gone? Hopefully nobody will be asking this type of question, although there are still some threats around designed to delete or encrypt information and to move documents from one place to another. If you find yourself in this situation, get help as quickly as possible.

 7. My antivirus has disappeared, my firewall is disabled: Another typical characteristic of many threats is that they disable security systems (antivirus, firewall, etc.) installed on computers. Perhaps if one thing shuts down it might just be a specific software failure; but if all your security components are disabled, you are almost certainly infected.

 8. My computer is speaking a strange language: If the language of certain applications changes, the screen appears back-to-front or strange insects start ‘eating’ the desktop; it is likely that you have an infected system.

 9. Library files for running games, programs, etc. have disappeared from my computer: Once again, this could be a sign of infection, although it could also be down to incomplete or incorrect installation of programs.

10. My computer has gone mad… literally: If the computer starts acting on its own, you suddenly find your system has been sending emails without your knowledge, Internet sessions or applications open sporadically on their own, your system is probably compromised by malware.

Panda advises all users, who have identified with one or more of the scenarios above, to look for alternative security applications to the one (if any) they have installed. Users don’t need to uninstall their existing application; but can simply use a free, online antivirus such as Panda ActiveScan. Alternatively, they can install an antivirus that is compatible with other engines, such as Panda Cloud Antivirus, which is also free.

“Getting a second opinion on the health of your PC could save your data, your privacy and in many cases, your money”, concludes Matthews.

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

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

World Cup used as bait to spread rogueware

Panda Security has reported the recent appearance of a number of web pages distributing the MySecurityEngine fake antivirus. All of these pages appear in top web search results related to the 2010 South Africa Soccer World Cup.

“The FIFA World Cup is a worldwide event that, logically, hackers are taking advantage of”, says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations. Users looking for information regarding the World Cup are advised to only access reliable websites and be careful when clicking on links returned by search engines. “We expect to see attacks like this increase over the next few days.”

These techniques, called Black Hat Seo attacks, started being used by hackers a couple of years ago. Since then, they have become increasingly sophisticated, managing to place rogue websites among the top’s search results in search engine listings. The system is very simple: when users look for information about major sports events such as this, the results returned correspond to rogue Web pages professionally indexed to rank high. If the user clicks the link, they will be asked to download a file, such as a codec. If they do so, they will be inadvertently installing a fake antivirus program on their computer.

Users are advised to take all the necessary precautions when visiting Web pages through search engines. Making sure that sources are reliable and rejecting all downloads is key remaining uninfected. “The best piece of advice is to use common sense when surfing the Web. Reject requests from strangers and do not open any files that come from unfamiliar sources” says Matthews. “It’s advisable to make sure you have the proper virus protection on your computer and that it is up to date. There are free solutions like Panda Cloud Antivirus that protect computers against this type of threat.”

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

Panda Cloud AV is number 1!

Panda Cloud Antivirus has received yet another accolade! About.com has ranked the free cloud based security solution as their number one choice in their top 10 antivirus for Windows-based PCs.

About.com says:

Panda takes free antivirus to a whole new level with Panda Cloud Antivirus. The only free cloud-based scanner, Panda antivirus software takes all the processing off your PC, giving you a lighter, faster, and more proactive antivirus protection. Or for for a very low price you can upgrade to Panda Cloud Antivirus Pro and gain additional features as well as 24/7 tech support.