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Encryption Tools for the Mobile Executive

Most companies provide their senior executives with laptops or netbooks and tablets so they can be productive even when on the road. This is even more true of corporate executives who sometimes demand anytime, anywhere access to data residing on corporate servers. The big corporations can afford to spend millions of dollars on data protection hardware and software.

The same cannot be said of executives in small and medium-sized organizations, especially when it comes to loss of personal information, including credit card data, patient records or other financial information, stored by the company. Data breaches happen and information is lost every day due to small mistakes that could have been avoided. For small businesses, these events can be devastating. (more…)

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“Windows license locked”: Ransomware Targets Windows

Windows license locked!
“This copy of Windows is locked. You may be a victim of fraud or there may be an internal system error” – malware message

Mikko Hyppönen of F-Secure has warned of a new variant of what he calls “Ransomware” or ransom trojans. These are attacks by malware that takes a computer hostage and then tries to extort a payment in return for returning control of the computer or its files to the owner. Sometimes, the malware will encrypt files (using AES – Advanced Encryption Standard, for example) until  some “ransom” is paid by buying a key to unlock the hostage computer. (more…)

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APTs and Small Businesses: Hype or Real?

A new buzzword seem to emerge every few hours these days. If it’s not “Cloud”, it is “DLP”. One of the latest, in the security field at least, is “APT”. For Debian-based Linux users, we think of Aptitude, the update tool when we hear the word Apt. This APT refers to Advanced Persistent Threat – a term that is argued to have been coined by Washington D.C.-based security firm Mandiant.

It is a new attempt at restating an old problem of information security. Think of the old telephone trap and trace, satellite imaging, the presence of undercover operatives on the enemy’s side of the fence etc. Just like “Cloud” and “DLP”, the phrase sounds catchy and has enough ominous ring to it that will make CEOs and CISOs perk up when it is thrown at them by master pitchmen of security providers.

(more…)

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Is Samsung Installing Keyloggers on Laptops?

UPDATE: It has now been confirmed that Samsung laptops do not contain keyloggers or spyware.

UPDATE: Samsung has issued a statement saying that the finding is false. The statement says the software used to detect the keylogger, VIPRE, can be fooled by Microsoft’s Live Application multi-language support folder. This has been confirmed at F-Secure and two other publications, here and here.

UPDATE: GFI Labs, the maker of VIPRE, has issued an explanation and apology for generating the false positives that led to these articles: “We apologize to the author Mohamed Hassan, to Samsung, as well as any users who may have been affected by this false positive.”

UPDATE: A Samsung executive is said to have personally flown from Newark, N.J., to Burlington, Vt., carrying two unopened boxes containing new R540 laptop computers. These units were immediately put under seal and details recorded for chain-of-custody records. At 17:40, Dr Peter Stephenson, Director of the Norwich University Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics, began the detailed forensic analysis of the disks. The results are expected by Monday.

Original post:
There seems to be a  claim (false, as it turns out) that Samsung installs a commercial keylogger called StarLogger on its laptops before shipping them out, apparently to “monitor the performance of the machine and to find out how it is being used.”

This was reported by Mohamed Hassan, MSIA, CISSP, CISA who bought two different models of Samsung’s laptop – the R525 and R540 models. If the report is true, it will be like a rehash of the Sony Rootkit snafu a couple of years back. (more…)

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Online Tracking & Spying is No Joke!

You’ve heard about it and read tons of articles about it, but until you actually experience it, you do not realize how unnerving online spying can be. As a Computer Security Consultant, I spend a lot of time on the internet reading, researching and writing. Naturally, I subscribe to a lot of content providers for white-papers, research reports etc.

Recently, I started noticing a trend that did not initially ring an alarm bell. (more…)

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