News 2014 Viruses and Attacks

2014 Viruses and Attacks

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Once a computer virus has been isolated and named, it’s likely that your virus protection software will be updated to protect you from it. It’s the new viruses that haven’t yet been identified that typically cause the most trouble.

In a few cases, however, known viruses continue to infect computers around the world. Here we look at some of the viruses and attacks that have made the news so far in 2014.

Goner

Unfortunately, people still haven’t learned to be skeptical when it comes to e-mail with suspect attachments. The “Goner” virus spreads by forwarding itself via the victim’s mail client to everyone in that person’s contact list. It sends itself as an e-mail with subject line “Hi” and the body text “When I saw this screen saver, I immediately thought about you. I am in a harry (sic), I promise you will love it.” The attachment is titled “gone.scr”.

If you open the attachment, it forwards the same e-mail to all of your contacts and then attempts to disable your virus protection software, leaving you open to other possible attacks.

Cryptolocker

Like many other viruses, the Cryptolocker virus typically conceals itself in e-mail attachments. However, you can also contract it by clicking a flashing advertisement for one of many scam virus protection services claiming to have found x number of infections on your computer.

Rather than securing files, this malicious piece of programming encrypts files with an unknown algorithm and then charges the original owner of the data to release it back. So essentially, it holds the victim’s computer files hostage. Even paying the ransom, which is usually demanded in the form of the crypto-currency “Bitcoin”, doesn’t ensure that the data will be returned to the owner’s control.
This virus has been around for some time. In 2014, it reared its ugly head once more this year after being unseen for years.

Avast forums

Avast, an antivirus service based in Prague, had its online forums hacked, the irony of which was not lost on the 400,000 users whose details were compromised.

The Avast CEO made it clear in a blog post on the company’s website that users’ sensitive data remained secure. However, it’s certainly worth being concerned that every user’s e-mail address and hashed password fell into hacker hands. If a determined hacker cracks the algorithm used to protect the passwords, users who use the same password across several services may have bigger problems to deal with than their e-mail addresses being forward to spammers.

A lesson to be learned from this attack is to make sure to use different passwords wherever possible. Consider using a service like LastPass, 1Password or KeePass for greater password security.

Dragonfly

In 2014, Russian electronic spy agency known as “Dragonfly” compromised upwards of 1,000 key infrastructures around the world, endangering gas pipelines, wind turbines, aviation systems and power plants. It particularly targeted power plants in the United States and Europe.

According to Symantec, which is the company that owns Norton antivirus, the state-sponsored attackers created a virus called the “Energetic Bear”. This virus operates similarly to the infamous Stuxnet virus, which was designed and used by US and Israeli intelligence agencies to remotely shut down fuel lines in Iran.

Although average home and business computer users don’t have to worry about protecting themselves from viruses that target infrastructure at national and international levels, the fact that such viruses exist is frightening.

The best you can do to protect your data from viruses is to use antivirus software on any device you use that connects to the internet, and ensure that you keep this software updated with the latest virus definitions.

 2014 Viruses and Attacks
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.

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