[important] Please join DCT on May 28th for the first annual Beat Internet Threats Everywhere (B.I.T.E.) Day. A one day effort to take a BITE out of malware infections by significantly reducing infection rates and protecting personal information throughout the world. Encourage your friends and family to participate by sharing this through Facebook, Twitter, and email or offer to help those who are less tech savy![/important]
We often use dates on the calendar to remind us when to replace smoke detector batteries, register vehicles, pay bills, send holiday cars, etc as these are important items in one’s life, but less “important” tasks and items get lost in the shuffle. To many our computer is one of these less “important” items. We turn it on day in and day out and expect it to start up and allow us access to our documents and favorite websites. This is especially true of the less tech savy.
The problem with this approach is the modern computer is one of the, if not the, most important items in our lives. A great deal of important information relating to you and your family’s lives pass through, or is stored on, your computer. Social security numbers, banking details, personal items, and personal information, all of which should be guarded with the utmost effort, are access from the box connected between your monitor and keyboard.
We believe we are using due diligence by running antivirus software. We expect the antivirus software to ensure a “hands off” approach to the computer. If the AV doesn’t alert then everything must be fine! We expect the security related companies to handle dirty work We expect sites like DCT to warn us about important security news (and we do!). Problem? Yes!
Not a pretty picture
The issue is that antivirus software can’t catch everything – it simply isn’t possible. There are literally thousands of new threats discovered every day (picture at right shows a small sample of new threats for 05/23 from McAfee) and even with a success rate of 99.9% antivirus software is bound to let something through the cracks, whether you are exposed before the AV software author is aware of the threat or you come across a compromised website. Modern day infections are insidious – they can hide in the bowels of an operating system (with no outward signs of infection ) all the while stealing passwords and personal information and sending it to criminals throughout the world.
Microsoft, antivirus companies, and other security companies work tirelessly to stop this cyber crime by various means, but they are fighting an uphill battle. Even with the efforts of the largest computer and security companies there are still an estimated 500,000 computers infected with the DNS Changer trojan according to Softpedia and between 140,000 and 300,000 infected with the Flashback trojan. These numbers are staggering, but they tell a small portion of the malware tale as the numbers are only for two of the larger malware variants recently in the news.
I’m not trying to scare but inform. No matter how safe, secure, or cautious you feel you may be there is a high probability that you, or someone you know, are infected with something. As users (and possibly victims) we need to take a stand and make a difference in our computer safety as well as the computing world as a whole!
This image is McAfee’s Global Virus Map showing infection rates, per country, for the entire world. Click to see the map at full size.
McAfee reports in their Q1 2012 report that Malware levels are the highest in four years:
PC malware had its busiest quarter in recent history, and mobile malware also increased at a huge rate. We saw growth in established rootkits as well as the emergence of several new families. Many of the familiar malware we analyze and combat rebounded this quarter, but none more so than password-stealing Trojans.
B.I.T.E. back against malware
I thought if we only had one day each year (see where I’m going with this?) where we make a concerted effort to protect ourselves, and make some type of dent in the malware problem, progress could be made and hopefully prevent some financial unpleasantness for ourselves and others! Enter Memorial day – May 28th – a date/holiday we can remember yearly to perform such an important task.
What you should do on May 28th
This is extremely simple, and many may have already accomplished most of these tasks, but I request that EVERYONE follow these steps whether or not you believe you are infected. Yes, all operating systems! Yes, even if you’re careful! Yes, even if you believe your computer to be 100% safe and secure!
- Update your operating system using the normal method.
- Update Flash player and Java if you have them installed.
- Update your antivirus – if you do not presently have antivirus software please download and install one! Windows users can use Microsoft Security Essentials. OSX users can use Sophos. Linus users can use Avast.
- Using your antivirus software run a complete scan of your computer.
- Run one of the free online virus scanners – different companies use different virus definitions and running (not installing) a second scan may find something missed by the first. If you don’t have a favorite you can visit Eset’s online scanner or BitDefender’s online scanner.
- Sit back, drink a cold beverage of your choice, and relax knowing your computer is clean and you’ve helped make the web a safer place for everyone!
- If you do find you have an infection allow the software to remove it and rescan. If you experience difficulty removing an infection visit our forum and we will help.
How can you help
Take a few moments of your time and share this web page with friends, family, and acquaintances. Remind them on the 28th if you have to. The more people you can get involved the higher our chance of success and the better the outcome. Help someone who isn’t tech savy run through the steps above and explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.