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In the latest news, the WannaCry Ransomware has recently infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries.  It crippled a lot of business owners and government institution by encrypting their important data.  And if users want to decrypt or recover their files they need to pay a ransom of $300 in bitcoin currency.

wannacry ransomware

 

 

 

 

Although the Wannacry ransomware was temporarily prevented, new variants of ransomware is expected to strike again.  So how do we prevent it from infecting our computers or least not hold us for ransom?  Here are some tips on how you can prevent malicious software from infecting your computer.

 

Update your operating systems or softwares.  WannaCry spread rapidly by exploiting the security holes left un-patched OS Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 and 2008 editions.  If you or your organizations is still using older versions of these OS it is now be time to upgrade.

 

Read this on how to update your computer running in Windows XP, 8, Server 2003 and 2008 editions

 

Do not open spam emails or emails from unknown sources.  One way to spread the malware is by sending it automatically via email asking the user to click a link or download an attachment.  Most of the time spam emails disguises itself from someone you know like from your boss, friend or a relative.

 

Turn-off your macros in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint). Once you automatically open an infected file with  macros enabled you are giving permission to run malicious program to run into your computer.  Disabling the macros will give you time to decide whether the file is clean or not.

 

Regularly backup your data.  There are times that being infected might be inevitable.  Having a backup will let you restore your files without paying the ransom.  Besides paying the ransom is not a guarantee that criminals will give you the decryption key.

 

Install an antivirus software.  Like your Windows OS, your antivirus must be updated with the latest virus definitions or enhancement.  Most of the times antivirus companies releases  new prevention methods once it discovers new threats from the Internet.

 

Don’t be a click happy person.  Aside from spam emails malicious links may also be found in your social media feed such as in Facebook, Tumblr etc.  Although this social giants have a way of detecting bad links it is still up to you to decide whether a shared link is clean or not.  If you are unsure of the link, DON’T CLICK!

What if your computer is already infected?

 

There are times that no matter how careful we are, malicious programs has ways of infecting the system.  If a ransomware is already installed in your PC, the first thing to do is disconnect your computer from the Internet.  This will keep it further spreading on the Internet or to other PCs connected into your network.  If you live in the US you may report it to the authorities and seek help.

 

If you are tech person, you can visit Microsoft Security Website on how to remove the ransomware.

 

In some cases it may seems logical just to pay the ransom to make your PC normal again, but take note that once you paid for their demands you are funding their criminal activities.  In the case of WannaCry Ransomware there has been reports that users have paid the ransom but never got the decryption keys back.

 

 

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In what to be the largest ransomware attack in history, Microsoft released a patch for their unsupported operating system including Windows XP, Windows 8, Windows Server 2003 and 2008 editions.

 

WannaCrypt Ransomware

Image Credit:  Cisco Talos

 

The security updates are available at the following Microsoft website:

1.   Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64
2.   Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86
3.   Windows XP SP2 x64
4.   Windows XP SP3 x86
5.   Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86
6.   Windows 8 x86
7.   Windows 8 x64.

In a blogpost from Microsoft website they told that “This decision was made based on an assessment of this situation, with the principle of protecting our customer ecosystem overall, firmly in mind,”.

Businesses, governments and individuals in 74 countries across the globe have been victims of more than 45,000 attacks by this one strain of Ransomware in the space of just a few hours.

Wannacrypt ransomware demands $300 in Bitcoin for unlocking encrypted files – a price which doubles after three days. Users are also threatened with having all their files permanently deleted if the ransom isn””””t paid in a week.

Hospitals across the UK have had systems knocked offline by the ransomware attack, with patient appointments cancelled and doctors and nurses resorting to pen and paper and NHS England declaring the cyberattack as a ””””major incident”””” – a total of 45 NHS organisations are now own to be affected.

If your organization, for some reason, is still running on Windows XP or outdated operating systems, you are strongly advised to download and APPLY PATCH NOW!

 

 

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The UK”s Digital Economy Bill received royal assent and became law. According to it, Internet file-sharers can be jailed for up to 10 years if the court finds that they knowingly made infringing content available to the public and exposed a copyright owner to just a risk of loss.

It was two years ago that the British government announced its plans to increase the maximum prison sentence for online piracy from 2 to 10 years. It originated from a suggestion put forward in a study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office, which found out that criminal sanctions for online copyright infringement should be harmonized with offline crime, in order to offer better protections to businesses and send a clear message to deter criminals.

Last year, the government published a new draft of its Digital Economy Bill which provided for an extension of the current prison term of 2 years to a maximum of 10. At the same time, it was insisted that “regular” members of the public would not be subjected to harsh punishments, but for some reason the legislation does not read like that. According to the new law, anyone who makes infringing content available to the public and merely puts a copyright holder at risk of loss, is committing a criminal offense.

The Open Rights Group launched a campaign earlier in 2017 to ask the government to make amendments to target large-scale infringers while protecting the public, but with no result. Nobody agreed to make this minor change to the new law, even though legislation already exists for punishing even the smallest of copyright infringements via the civil courts. We’ll see how it works in reality.

 

Source:  Extratorrent

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Adam Mudd, now 20 years old, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for setting up a global computer hacking business.  Adam created Titanium Stresser software when he was 16 years old.  The software has carried out over 1.7m websites including major websites like Minecraft, Xbox Live and Microsoft.  According to reports he profited almost $500,000 in US dollars and bitcoins from selling the software.

The judge refused to suspend the jail term and stressed that the business that Adam sets up is a serious money making business.  The judge added that the software Titanium Stresser was doing exactly what Mudd created it to do.  The judge sent the defendant to a young offender institution.

Mudd, who lived with his parents, had previously undiagnosed Asperger syndrome and was eager to gain status in the online gaming community than the money. He carried out about 600 of DDoS attacks against 181 IP addresses in 2014 and 2015. The man admitted to security breaches against his college while he was studying computer science. On one occasion, the college hacking affected 70 other schools and colleges, including Cambridge, Essex and East Anglia universities.

It was revealed that there were more than 112,000 registered users of Titanium Stresser who hacked about 666,000 IP addresses worldwide. Mudd created the software in September 2013 using a fake name and address in Manchester. His customers were offered a variety of payment plans, including discounts for bulk purchases, as well as a referral program.

The teenager was arrested in March 2015, when he was in his bedroom at his computer. Mudd refused to unlock the machine before his father intervened. He was expelled from college and now works as a kitchen porter, banned from the Internet for 2 years – this was a form of punishment for any computer-obsessed teenager.

His sentencing comes on the day that alleged hacker Lauri Love was given the go-ahead to challenge his extradition to the United States. American authorities have been fighting for Love, suffering from Asperger syndrome, to face trial on hacking charges. He could face 99 years in prison if he is found guilty. Love is alleged to have stolen huge amounts of data from a wide range of the US agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the US army, Nasa and the FBI.  source:  Extratorrent

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What’s the appropriate way to deal with online piracy? Education? Fines? Jail sentences? All of these things are possible in today’s world, depending on scale of offending and location.

In the United States, for example, educational warnings formed part of the Copyright Alerts program, but with that having fallen by the wayside, fines (aka settlement demands) are the most common form of punishment. People can still be taken to court though, and with statutory damages of $150,000 per title on the table, things can get hairy pretty quickly.

On the whole, jail sentences are uncommon and are usually saved for the more serious offenders, such as site operators and release groups. On the rare occasions, a custodial is handed out, they tend to be measured in months and years, not days and weeks. Over in Nigeria, it appears things are done a little differently.

Following a complaint from the local Hausa Film Makers Association, 18 people were arrested under suspicion of online piracy of so-called Kannywood films, movies produced by the Hausa-language film industry based in the north of the country.

The Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), a paramilitary agency of the Nigerian government, took care of the prosecution. The accused appeared in court last week charged with unlawfully downloading and sharing the movies. According to a report from The Nation, things escalated quickly.

“When the one-count charge of piracy was read to them, they all pleaded guilty,” said Ibrahim Idris of the NSCDC.

“The Chief Magistrate, Sanusi Usman, thereafter sentenced them to 45 days imprisonment or to pay a fine of N12,000 each.”

While the $40 fine might be an option for some, any period in jail for sharing a movie seems particularly harsh, particularly in Nigeria, a country that places no priority on burglary offenses and chooses not to enforce its own traffic laws.

The United States classifies the country as having a “critical” crime rate so why piracy receives any attention isn’t clear, despite the country’s reported “zero tolerance” stance. There might, however, be a little clue in the way the Internet pirates were charged.

“The convicts were accused of downloading and sending of Hausa films, an act that contravenes a section of Kano State Censorship Board laws 2001,” Idris says.

Nigeria’s Censorship Board takes its responsibilities seriously, and while it appears to have responded to complaints of Internet piracy from an industry group, other areas of law may have come into play.

“The primary responsibility of the board is to filter any viewable, audible, or readable material produced by the mass media, or via the internet or performed on the stage,” the Board says in its mission statement.

“It is the duty of the board to censor such materials before they are released for public consumption; educate the stakeholders and the general public; and to prosecute the defaulters.”

When one begins to grasp the level of control commanded by the Board, it becomes clear that file-sharing networks are almost completely incompatible with its mission. It regularly bans songs and forbids their downloading so little surprise that when it suits the authorities, the big guns can be brought out to deal with the information-spreading public.

“The cheapest way of corrupting our cultural base is through the use of tools of mass media namely, the internet, television, adverts, movies, other cinematographs and through assorted literary works,” the Board explains.

“These tools of mass mind control and corruption are targeted on the youths of our developing countries on whose shoulders lie the future of this generation and yet unborn ones.”

The claims that pirates in the United States are merely destroying the film industry clearly pale in comparison…..

Source: TorrentFreak