Facebook Finally Allows Users To Delete Sent Messages

Users of Facebook Messenger, which number over
1.2 billion people worldwide, now have a new feature that makes life a bit
easier after making an “oops.” An oops is a mistake in an instant message that
is immediately noticed, right after sending it, by the person who wrote it. It
could be that a message includes a goofy typo. Typos are usually much easier to
see right after sending a message than before sending it. This is a
psychological thing.

The need for message deletion could also come
from a message intended for one person that might be accidentally sent to the
wrong person or incorrectly to a group. It could be that a group message was
sent to someone who should not be included.

One thing that is helpful with this new
feature is the ability to remove a photo that was sent in error. If the person
receiving the message with the photo does not make a copy of it, it is possible
that the mistake goes away when deleted by using the new unsend feature.

This may save considerable embarrassment.
There is probably nothing more unfortunate than sending an explicit photo to
your mother by accident. Hopefully, she does not see it before you get a chance
to unsend it and send her a new message with the correct photo attached.

Ten
Minutes to Change Your Mind

Now, for up to ten minutes after being sent,
Facebook Messenger allows a person to delete a message. It disappears and then
in its place appears the notation that the message was deleted.

Be aware, that there is no delay in sending
the message out. Perhaps, if the receiver of the message is not paying close
attention to their Facebook Messenger, the message may go unread. However, if a
person already read the message, they know what it was about. The time limit of
ten minutes for deletion also means that a message is not changeable the next
day after a late night, drunken, message-sending binge.

The Risks Of Using Auto-Complete For Passwords

The auto-fill feature that makes it easy to enter in
usernames and passwords on various websites may be putting your information at
risk.

While auto-fill is a convenient way to keep track
of the many combinations of letters, numbers and special characters you need to
access sites, the feature is also being used by advertisers and hackers. That’s
why many security experts are suggesting turning off the auto-complete feature
in your web browser.

Password manager programs embedded in browsers are a
simple way to get access to a password-protected website. The password manager
auto-fills your details, giving you one-click access to account information
meant to be kept private.

How Hackers Get Access

If hackers get access to a compromised website, they can
put an invisible form on the site and easily collect users’ login information.
If your browser automatically enters this information when it sees the
appropriate boxes on a web form, it adds the info everywhere those boxes are
found on a page, whether they’re seen by the user or not.

Because most web users use the same username and
password for multiple sites, the theft of this information on just one website
can expose your information on many others.

Not Just Hackers

It may come as a surprise to learn that hackers are not
the only ones trying to use your login information. Some ad networks are using
tracking scripts to grab email addresses stored in your password manager for
auto-filling. That tech can be used to grab passwords too, whether stored on a
browser or an independent password management site.

The ad networks are using the same technique as hackers
— an invisible form that captures your credentials provided by the password
manager. Here’s a helpful demo page that shows you how it works.

Ad networks are using this information not to hack your
data, but to understand what sites you navigate to better target ads to you.
And while they claim to only be grabbing email addresses, the
potential for further abuse is there.

What Computer Users Can Do Password managers by themselves are still useful tools, especially given the number of codewords we need to go about daily web browsing. It’s the auto-fill mechanism that needs to be disabled. That’s simple to do.

The auto-fill feature that makes it easy to enter in
usernames and passwords on various websites may be putting your information at
risk.

While auto-fill is a convenient way to keep track
of the many combinations of letters, numbers and special characters you need to
access sites, the feature is also being used by advertisers and hackers. That’s
why many security experts are suggesting turning off the auto-complete feature
in your web browser.

Password manager programs embedded in browsers are a
simple way to get access to a password-protected website. The password manager
auto-fills your details, giving you one-click access to account information
meant to be kept private.

How Hackers Get Access

If hackers get access to a compromised website, they can
put an invisible form on the site and easily collect users’ login information.
If your browser automatically enters this information when it sees the
appropriate boxes on a web form, it adds the info everywhere those boxes are
found on a page, whether they’re seen by the user or not.

Because most web users use the same username and
password for multiple sites, the theft of this information on just one website
can expose your information on many others.

Not Just Hackers

It may come as a surprise to learn that hackers are not
the only ones trying to use your login information. Some ad networks are using
tracking scripts to grab email addresses stored in your password manager for
auto-filling. That tech can be used to grab passwords too, whether stored on a
browser or an independent password management site.

The ad networks are using the same technique as hackers
— an invisible form that captures your credentials provided by the password
manager. Here’s a helpful demo page that shows you how it works.

Ad networks are using this information not to hack your
data, but to understand what sites you navigate to better target ads to you.
And while they claim to only be grabbing email addresses, the
potential for further abuse is there.

What Computer Users Can Do

Password managers by themselves are still useful tools, especially given
the number of codewords we need to go about daily web browsing. It’s the
auto-fill mechanism that needs to be disabled. That’s simple to do.

14-yr-old Teen Who Discovered Eavesdropping Bug to Be Paid by Apple

Apple
is yet to disclose how much it is going to reward a 14-year-old U.S. teenager
for discovering a massive security breach on its FaceTime video call
system. It is believed that part of the reward money will be set aside for his
high school education fund.

On
Thursday, Grant Thompson noticed the group FaceTime bug while on a
video call with his friends. Apparently, they were discussing different
strategies they could implement on Fortnite, a 3D video game which is
widely popular among the teenage demographic.

Upon
contacting Apple, necessary action was taken and the iOS
12.1.4 iPhone update was then released on Thursday. Prior to the
discovery, an unknown security researcher noticed the presence of
the FaceTime bug but was unwilling to come out with it, since Apple
had not put a bounty on offer.

Missed Opportunity

Towards
the end of January 2019, details of a suspicious bug
on FaceTime emerged. A couple of users noticed suspicious activity on
the widely used video call system among iPhone users.

Sometimes
when they contacted friends and family, they could distinctly hear what was
happening on the recipient’s end (regardless of whether they answered the call
or not). Apple got word of the bug and immediately disabled the
recently-launched group Facetime feature on iOS phones.

Earlier
that same month, the teenager and his mother phoned the trillion-dollar
company with a similar potential security threat. As expected, Apple
considered the 14-year-old’s discovery a hoax and thought the boy was craving
attention.

The
problem was uncovered by Grant on one of his group FaceTime video
calls. When Thompson’s plea was given a deaf ear, his mother, Michele Thompson
stepped in and repeatedly reached out to Apple via social media and emails. For
some reason, Apple was adamant to heed to the vulnerability in
their FaceTime feature.

Ever
since other users of the video call system came out with a similar bug issue,
Apple has credited Grant, who hails from Catalina, Arizona, with this major
finding. Grant’s name went viral hours after Apple released a software update
to counter the bug’s detrimental effects.

About the Update

The iOS 12.1.4
is the latest update from Apple for all iPhone 5S phones, iPad Air devices and
the 6th generation iPod Touch. A week ago, Apple disabled Group
FaceTime when news about the bug emerged.

Apple
noted in turn that it solved a similar unknown issue some time ago
in FaceTime’s Live Photos feature. On Friday, Apple reported that it
solved the major security flaw on its servers. It would also release an
advanced software update to re-activate Group FaceTime.

iOS 12.1.4
release notes state that there was an existence of a logic issue in
Group FaceTime. It was also emphasized that the bug was fixed with
“improved state management”. On Thursday, as of 10 a.m., the system status page
of the massive tech company noted that Group FaceTime’s restoration was
successful.

iPhone users
can update their gadgets by doing the following:

  
• Open settings

   • Tap on ‘General’.

   • Select Software Update

   • Download the update

Once the download is complete, your iPhone will automatically install the new software.

Swift
Security Measures

A representative for Apple had this to say in
regards to the update and the reported bug: “In regards to the
bug that has noticeably established its presence in
the FaceTime feature, a security audit has been conducted by our team.
Additional updates have been made to not only the Group FaceTime app,
but its Live Photos feature as a whole in a bid to enhance our security. This
will go a long way in securing our customers who are yet to upgrade to the
latest software”.

The representative also revealed a major server
upgrade to block older versions of macOS and iOS from
making use of FaceTime’s Live Photos feature.

For a global company that is keen on preserving
users’ personal information, the bug was a huge misstep. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO,
has often advocated for increased regulation of privacy. In the recent past, he
has subtly called out companies that utilize their customer’s vital data for
the creation of personalized ads. In this case, it’s safe to say that Apple is
not so perfect either.

Apple’s
bug bounty program

Apple missed a massive opportunity to solve
the FaceTime bug problem soon enough. Based on reports from The
Wall Street Journal, as early as the start of January, Apple received warnings
from a concerned teen but decided to do nothing about it.

Fortunately enough, before the issue escalated to
something even more serious, more and more users noticed the flaw and issued a
public outcry to the company.

Apple has offered its sincerest apologies to the
teen and his family and is yet to fully reward them for their vocal assistance
on the bug issue. The company is not willing to share the exact amount they
will pay, but it will be substantial enough to see Grant through high
school, according to a report by Reuters.

In regards to this incident, Apple developed
the ‘bug bounty program’ in late 2016. In most cases, researchers can receive
more than a hundred thousand dollars for reporting bugs early enough. One of
the first people to receive substantial compensation from the program was
19-year old Luca Todesco.

In that same year, Facebook followed suit and
rewarded a 10-year-old Finnish youngster a whopping $10,000 in bug bounty. The
boy allegedly figured out how to delete anonymous users’ comments from all
Instagram servers.

Aside from Grant Thompson, a 27-year-old software
developer from Texas by the name of Daven Morris was also credited.
Unlike Grant, Mr. Morris reported the problem several days after it was already
made known.

Either way, Apple rewarded the young man for
noticing the problem soon enough.

Reliable I.T. Services –

When Looking for Reliable I.T. Look for a Manged CIO

How Can You Find A Reliable IT Support Company That Will Customize Their Services To Meet Your Business Needs?

This isn’t a fairy tale. It’s a true story. 

 

Once upon a time, in a story that might sound awfully familiar, there was a business owner who wanted to find a trustworthy and reliable technology support provider. First, she tried this IT company.But they never returned her phone calls.

Then she tried another IT company.  But their prices were way too high.

 

Finally, she found an IT company that would customize their services especially for her business. And it was just right.  Now, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t put your trust in just any IT company. But, how do you begin your search?

 

How long have they been in business?  How large is their IT company?

 

Don’t use any company with less than three years of experience in the solutions you use. This will weed out a few right away.

 If it’s a small IT company, your business will probably be higher on their priority list, although, large IT companies can offer a broader base of experience and knowledge.  Their resources will be more expansive as well. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons here according to your organization’s requirements.  

What are their IT staff’s qualifications and certifications?

A reliable IT provider should have lots of info regarding the certifications their technicians hold. Why are certifications important?

According to CIO magazine, using certified professionals is beneficial to your business:

 

“44 percent of IT decision-makers say certifications result in employees performing work faster, 33 percent said it results in more efficiency when implementing systems and 23 percent say it helps deploy products and services faster with fewer errors.” 

 

If you use both Apple and Microsoft solutions, make sure they are certified on both. 

 

Also, ask if they provide continuing education for their techs. Do they attend industry events to update their skillsets?

 

Have they served businesses in your industry? Can they support the applications you use?

 

Ideally, your technology support provider should have experience in what you do. Find out if they’ve worked in industries and with businesses of the same size. Ask them for a reference list of customers from your industry to be sure.  If not, determine if the work they’ve performed for others may align with your needs.

 

Also, think about your employees, the type of work they do, and which applications they access in the typical workday. Can the IT company support these applications?

 

You may use specially-built applications to handle workflows. Your IT provider should understand how your business works, the technology you use, and be able to support it.

 

How will they help you grow your business with technology? Do they offer outsourced CIO services?

 

Ask how they’ll help to support your growth goals. Just as you have a one-year, three-year, or five-year business plan, they should provide strategic IT planning that aligns with your business objectives.

 

An Outsourced CIO will ensure that your technology meets your growing business demands. 

  • They will develop a thorough understanding of your company and technology infrastructure.
  • Offer suggestions for new IT solutions that can promote your success.
  • Develop an IT Strategic Plan that aligns with your goals and your budget.
  • Perform ongoing evaluations and performance metrics to ensure your business stays on track with your tactical technology plan.

 What kind of service can you expect? 

  • Do they offer 24/7 service with a live person on the other end of the phone, chat, or email?
  • Is their help desk staff qualified to address your issues right away?
  • Will they remotely monitor and maintain your IT system 24/7?
  • If they can’t fix your problems remotely, how long will it take for a technician to come to your site? Is this backed by a written Service Level Agreement?

What is and isn’t covered in their contract?

 

Do they provide fixed-fee services? What’s included? Find out what they don’t offer that you might require. 

 

Are there extra costs for services, and if so, how much are they? You deserve a reliable IT partner who will work to provide an IT system that’s secure, efficient, and increases your staff’s productivity.

 

What about cybersecurity? How will they protect your IT assets and data? 

  • Be sure they provide a layered cybersecurity solution to protect all of your computers and network from unauthorized access, malware, spam, viruses and other forms of cybercrime.
  • Will they provide Security Awareness Training for your employees to ensure they don’t fall victim to hackers and phishing emails?
  • Will they remotely monitor your network for security threats on a 24/7 basis, block these threats and eliminate them?
  • Do they provide vulnerability assessments?
  • If you are in healthcare, are they HIPAA compliant themselves? As a business associate, they must be. Will they provide HIPAA or other industry regulatory compliance support?
  • What about your mobile devices? Do they provide Mobile Device Management?

With the increase of more sophisticated cyber-attacks today, make sure you’re educated about cyber threats. Your IT company is responsible to ensure that you are armed with the best protection available to safeguard your data and IT infrastructure against cyber-crime.

 

Ask about Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery – and the Cloud

 

Do they provide a secure cloud-based backup service?  How often do they test the disaster recovery plan? Will they perform tests to estimate the recovery time and the impact of potential failure?  

 

Speaking of the Cloud, do they have Cloud Consultants on staff who can help you choose the right solutions for your business? Can they migrate your technology to the Cloud?

 

Finally, ask them how much everything will cost. 

Make sure their IT Service & Support Plans align with your budgetary requirements.  

If they won’t customize their services to meet your needs, the story’s not over yet.  Keep looking for the reliable IT Support Company that’s right for you.

Call Today 570-634-5350

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How To IT Budget

Email Wrapped in Security

Email Wrapped in Bacon(Security)

Yes you are seeing this correctly it is Office 365 wrapped with Bacon. Why? Bacon makes everything better and here at Underdog, all our services are wrapped around security so what better way to illustrate this.

OK, Everyone knows you can buy Office 365 for roughly the same price where ever you go – the price is set by Microsoft. In fact you can purchase directly from Microsoft.

Then why don’t you do that? Well some places do those that do not want to deal with an I.T. company. But if you have ever tried to compare Microsoft plans you nearly go blind looking at all the fine print. So how do you know if you got the right plan for your business? Well if I want email I pick office 365 essentials, if I want desktop apps I can pick Office 365 Premium. If I want Email Security maybe I pick e3 or e1 or on and on and on and you get the Idea.

When starting Underdog Computer and Network Support my main goal was that every service we provide will be wrapped in security. Why? I don’t want my customers to choose a plan because it was cheaper and the reason it was cheaper was because it didn’t include any security options. The internet is a scary enough place already and everything we do these days involve the internet in some way. I want my clients protected! After 25+ years of doing this I hate the 12 am or 5 am panic calls.

We put together a pricing structure that is built around Office 365 Email. Even if you have Office 365 already or you have professional email addresses the @yourdomain.com) that is fine you can still take advantage of these packages. We can convert them over to our system. However if you are still doing business as @ptd.net @gmail.com @yahoo.com @comcast.net or any other public email provider. You should seriously consider changing. 

You can purchase these bundles in increments of 1 pack or 5 pack. So how does it work? If you have 15 employees you would purchase (3) 5 packs. This gives you 15 email addresses. If you have 16 employees you could purchase (4) 5 packs or (3) 5 packs and (1) 1 pack. We would advise you what is best for your business.

So what is included with your Business Bundle:

Professional Email addresses @yourdomain.com

1 Email Address for every user with unlimited aliases and groups

1 subscription to Microsoft Office which includes Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher, One Note and Access for every user

Ok so far that is not any different than anyone else offers. Here is where it gets interesting

We add email SPAM filtering both inbound and outbound

For added security 2 form authentication

Email Encryption (Email Encryption is when you want to send sensitive information such as bank account numbers and social security numbers etc. You encrypt with a special lock that only the intended recipient will have the key)

If that wasn’t enough we added Office Protect which includes security policies for email, monitoring and alerts of suspicious mailbox activity like logons or questionable messages being sent or received. If your email is being forwarded which is a sign of someone hijacking your email account.

Email Archiving, Web access so you can access your account from anywhere and also Mobile email so you can send and receive email from your phone with all the protections you get from a desktop. Remember I said all our services include security. This is no exception on top of the email security we have built in we are adding in desktop security. We have included Patch Management which applies critical and security updates to your computer 1 per user . We have included PC Antimalware/Antivirus and PC Remote Monitoring and Remote Remediation 1 per user. And to round it all off we have provided up to 1 GB shared space online and 1 GB of pooled backup space.

Ok so if you were to price this all out separately

Office 365 with Desktop Apps is $18.95

Office Protections which includes the monitoring and threat protection of the mailbox is $15.00

Total Protection Gold which includes Antimalware/Antivirus, Website Protections, Unlimited Remote Support is $50.00.

These items alone would come to $83.95 – for a single bundle its $65 23% savings and if you purchase the 5 pack bundle it is $50/user which is a 41% savings.

Call Today 570-634-5350 to get started!

 

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The Hidden Cost to Downtime

We all like to save money in our homes. An entire industry revolves around the “Do It Yourselfer” the weekend warrior. Some of us are good at working on cars, we fix our own and as a favor for a pal and maybe a little cash we do it on the side. Lots of people have Side Gigs because they are better at certain things that aren’t their main vocation. Of course there are people who fix computers on the side. 

As Humans we must know when we are over our heads, when a particular project might need the touch of an expert. When it comes to businesses that rely heavy on computers you need to think twice when letting your cousins son work on your computer because “He built a gaming computer” or The guy who works for UPS during the day but moonlights working on computers because he knows a few things. 

I know on the surface computers appear to have gotten easier to work with. Everything has moved to the cloud, networks and networking has gotten a lot less complicated. The couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is things have gotten more complicated and dangerous. There are more hackers, viruses, and cyber crimes then ever before. Every day you hear about a companies data breach. At the time of this writing Wells Fargo one of the biggest banks had a major outages. 

If you are saying well those are big businesses what does that have to do with my small business. Consider this Example. Small Fictitious company Jones and Sons a construction company with about 15 employees. Jones and Sons has a file server, uses cloud based emails and has 15 computers networked together and some networked printers. Jones Sr used to use a dedicated IT company for all their computer needs but since retiring and leaving the business to Jones Jr. they do a lot more themselves. Jones Jr grew up with computers so he knows a lot about them. He maintains the computer network. 

But now he is running the company and he doesn’t have a lot of time to put into the computers. But they seem to be running ok so he isn’t concerned. 

One day they get hit with a Crypto Virus which encrypts all their data! How did it happen, well their commercial grade firewall went bad so Jones Jr went to Staples and bought a residential firewall. All the commercial grade antivirus expired so he installed one of those free antivirus solutions(The ones that say it is illegal to install in businesses). 

Most of the computers are still windows xp “Because it doesn’t matter, all their stuff is in the cloud so these are just dumb machines” and the more modern computers are running the home version of the operating system and have never been patched. 

Ok what about backups? Someone has been swapping out the tapes everyday surely we can restore from those. NOPE, they havent been working in 3 years. All the financial data, documents are all gone.

For Jones and Sons the cost of downtime is going to be HUGE! Of course this is an exaggeration but it is not uncommon. 

Similarly there are business that still engage with I.T. companies on a Time and Material Basis(Break/Fix). They only call when somethings broken to get it fixed. While these companies are a bit smarter because they at least recognize they need a professional(sometimes) – they still waste time and money. Because they anticipate having a unexpected cost they try to do whatever they can to avoid it. They may have an “Internal I.T. person because they know more then everyone else” . Because they don’t have an ongoing relationship with an I.T. company it may take a while to get someone to respond meaning if the problem is effecting your entire business you are out of business until someone responds. 

Managed I.T. Services is more than paying a monthly fee. It is about letting you get back to the business of your business. Letting us handle your Technology. Your are an expert in what you do, we are an expert in Technology. 

  • Because you pay a monthly fee there are no unexpected costs.
  •  Because you have ongoing relationship downtime is actually reduced 
  • Because we have an active ongoing role in your business we can advise you on how to steer your technology
  • Reduce Downtime, Reduce Wasted Employees Time – Save Money!

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Know the Difference Between a Firewall and a Modem

Understand the Difference Between
Firewalls and Modems

Hello Everyone! Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support. Back with another Video Blog!

We will be discussing Firewalls, Routers and Modems, Let’s get started!

Ok so these days there is a big blur between Routers, Modems and Firewalls. Understandably so, Many ISP(Internet Service Providers) provide a modem with both router and firewall capabilities to make things easier for the end user. However, easier doesn’t mean safer. Let me explain.

In the early days of the Internet, the Modem was the interface or the handoff from your internet provider. It carried the signal from the provider and that was it. What you did with it from there was your responsibility.

The next device after the modem was the Router. Its job was to take the signal from the ISP in this case the modem and “ROUTE” the traffic to the local network translating to whatever language the local network could speak. Sometimes it would “Route” to multiple networks. It would then use rules setup to determine where and how the traffic is sent and received.

Ok so think of it this way, the road you live on is the internet. The driveway is your router. Your house then becomes the local network. Back in those days, your house would not have any doors or windows in other words no privacy. Therefore, everyone was able to see you and as a result, nothing was secure.

Firewall were created to provide a level of security similar to how industrial building firewalls prevent the spread of fire or damage to a building. A firewall added not only windows and doors but also curtains to your proverbial home. The role of the firewall has evolved but for the purpose of this video let just say firewalls at the basic level provide a masquerade of your network or NAT (network Address Translation). In using my original analogy. From the outside, all someone knows is your home address but it does not know which person inside the house is actually communicating. In addition, there are access rules for traffic inside going out and outside coming in. Most firewalls have restrictive ruleset coming in then they do going out.

Today the modern modem you get for your home or small business combines the modem, router and the most basic firewall component NAT. When ISP first started doing this, businesses were advised by their IT provider to purchase firewalls because it was understood they needed more than just masquerading how data was sent. Over the last few years I have seen a shift in this trend and many small business usually ones without a dedicated IT team will use what the ISP provided modem. It worries me because they are under a false sense of being secure.

For one I would never consider ISP modem a business class device. This device used for both residential users and commercial accounts and provides a simplicity level of setup that the nonprofessional can use. Because of this, many controls are hidden or not available to the end user. Many security risks like UPNP and WPS among them are open by default. The ability to remote operate your modem is open and EVERYONE KNOWS many times the default username and password for your modem!  In short, it is easy to compromise it.

Business Grade Firewalls have levels of controls you can granularly control what comes in and goes out of your network added services such as intrusion detection and prevention, application control and even antivirus are growing as key service of these devices.

Yes, it is true most modern computers come with software firewalls, the problem I have with them is simple. The software firewall is dependent on your computer operating in an uncompromised state. Meaning it has all the proper patches. You are free of malware and your system is running normally. We have all seen where a patch screws up a computer. Good time to compromise your firewall. You download a malware, good time to compromise your firewall.

With a hardware firewall, this is a bit harder to accomplish. Underdog Computer and Network Support provides quality services, patch management and business class firewalls to all our clients. Give me a call today 570-634-5350. Don’t forget to ask about our Network Assessment valued at $950.00 but is yours free. Remember Never Fear, We Fix I.T. Here!

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Bots turning Your Computer into a Zombie

Bots turning your Computer into a Zombie

Hello Everyone! Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support! Back with another video blog. This week I will be teaching you about BOTS! Turning your computer into a Zombie! This is part 3 of my 3 part educational series on keeping safe on the internet.

Let’s get started!

BOTS! You may have heard of Bots before or this may be your first time but Bots are just as dangerous as malware and phishing if not more than because, it makes you unwillingly involved in criminal acts!

So what is a BOT? A bot is a piece of software that performs automated tasks by running scripts over the internet. It performs these simple and repetitive tasks much more quickly than a human sort of like a roBOT. I am sure this is where the term comes from. Most bots are harmless and crucial for making the internet useful like chat bots, auction bots, web crawlers or spiders. Like anything else, Bots can be “weaponized” or turned malignant and destructive when deployed by cyber criminals.

I am a history buff and I use history to see how something evolved.  You know the old saying if you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it. I love to look back and see how certain technology came to be and how it evolved in this case into something bad.

Some say Bots began all the way back with Greek Mythology. But we are not going that far back. Lets go to 1950’s.

In 1950, computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing developed the Turing Test, also known as the imitation game It’s most primitive format required three players — A, B, and C.

Player A was a machine and player B was a human. Player C, also a human was the interrogator, by asking a series of questions would try to determine who the human was. However, there was a problem. At the time, databases were highly limited, and could therefore only store a certain amount of human phrases. That meant that the computer would eventually run out of answers to give Player C, eliminating the challenge and prematurely ending the test.

One of the most significant AI developments of the 1960s was the development of ELIZA — a bot, named in part for the Pygmalion character, whose purpose was to simulate a psychotherapist. Created in 1966 by MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum, the technology was limited, to say the least, as was ELIZA’s vocabulary. AI continued advancing in the 80’s and 90’s but most of it for scientific and government focused.

In the 90’s the shift began towards the consumer market, if you remember some of the games from the 90’s Simon Says, I took a lickin from a chicken and others. Then in the late 90’s around 1996, Tamagotchi a computerized handheld pet hit the market, which required digital care to keep it alive.

As the internet became popular so did the use of bots. As I mentioned earlier you had internet bots called crawlers or spiders that went and “crawled” through a website and harvested all the links to categorize in a search directory(remember those).

So that doesn’t sound so bad, when did it go wrong? Remember I said earlier – Most bots are harmless and crucial for making the internet useful like chat bots, auction bots, web crawlers or spiders. Like anything else, Bots can be “weaponized” or turned malignant and destructive when deployed by cyber criminals. Something called the BOTNET was developed. What the heck is that? Botnets are nothing more than an army of infected computers, which grow by infecting other computers. How that happens is the reason this is part of my 3 part series. It happens through Trojan horses, infected emails, viruses, etc.. who controls them, how do they get their instructions?

So how does it work? First it starts with an infection generally called a Trojan horse. It is called a Trojan horse because it was let in by YOU! That’s right I said you. A free download from a website, Freeware installation of some software. Your reboot your computer and boom you are infected! Your antivirus usually does not pick it up because it is made to install before the av has a chance to start and is not smart enough to know it is a malicious program. Once on your computer it begins reporting to a C2C or a command to control center for instructions. That is it your computer is a zombie now reporting to a Botmaster for instructions and mindlessly infecting other computers. Most of the times you will not know it is happening it doesn’t take a super amount of resources to get done. Most of the times it is only when alerted by your ISP that a Honeypot has flagged your network.

A C2C is one way that a botnet is created a second way and most recent way is a peer to peer. So rather than each zombie communicating back to the botmaster, each computer becomes both the master and the slave, Woooo! Think Skynet! As you can imagine the Peer to Peer method is much harder to kill.

 

How to prevent! Prevention becomes 2 parts education 1 part technology and a good Technology Partner!

Underdog Computer and Network Support will educate you and your staff on good surfing habits and the warning signs. Using proven technology securing your network and making sure your computers are up to date with the latest patches. Our professionals have been doing this for 26 years. Give us a call today 570-634-5350 for a free review of your network. And….. Never Fear, We Fix I.T.

 

 

Hello Everyone! Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support! Back with another video blog. This week I will be teaching you about BOTS! Turning your computer into a Zombie! This is part 3 of my 3 part educational series on keeping safe on the internet.

Let’s get started!

BOTS! You may have heard of Bots before or this may be your first time but Bots are just as dangerous as malware and phishing if not more than because, it makes you unwillingly involved in criminal acts!

So what is a BOT? A bot is a piece of software that performs automated tasks by running scripts over the internet. It performs these simple and repetitive tasks much more quickly than a human sort of like a roBOT. I am sure this is where the term comes from. Most bots are harmless and crucial for making the internet useful like chat bots, auction bots, web crawlers or spiders. Like anything else, Bots can be “weaponized” or turned malignant and destructive when deployed by cyber criminals.

I am a history buff and I use history to see how something evolved.  You know the old saying if you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it. I love to look back and see how certain technology came to be and how it evolved in this case into something bad.

Some say Bots began all the way back with Greek Mythology. But we are not going that far back. Lets go to 1950’s.

In 1950, computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing developed the Turing Test, also known as the imitation game It’s most primitive format required three players — A, B, and C.

Player A was a machine and player B was a human. Player C, also a human was the interrogator, by asking a series of questions would try to determine who the human was. However, there was a problem. At the time, databases were highly limited, and could therefore only store a certain amount of human phrases. That meant that the computer would eventually run out of answers to give Player C, eliminating the challenge and prematurely ending the test.

One of the most significant AI developments of the 1960s was the development of ELIZA — a bot, named in part for the Pygmalion character, whose purpose was to simulate a psychotherapist. Created in 1966 by MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum, the technology was limited, to say the least, as was ELIZA’s vocabulary. AI continued advancing in the 80’s and 90’s but most of it for scientific and government focused.

In the 90’s the shift began towards the consumer market, if you remember some of the games from the 90’s Simon Says, I took a lickin from a chicken and others. Then in the late 90’s around 1996, Tamagotchi a computerized handheld pet hit the market, which required digital care to keep it alive.

As the internet became popular so did the use of bots. As I mentioned earlier you had internet bots called crawlers or spiders that went and “crawled” through a website and harvested all the links to categorize in a search directory(remember those).

So that doesn’t sound so bad, when did it go wrong? Remember I said earlier – Most bots are harmless and crucial for making the internet useful like chat bots, auction bots, web crawlers or spiders. Like anything else, Bots can be “weaponized” or turned malignant and destructive when deployed by cyber criminals. Something called the BOTNET was developed. What the heck is that? Botnets are nothing more than an army of infected computers, which grow by infecting other computers. How that happens is the reason this is part of my 3 part series. It happens through Trojan horses, infected emails, viruses, etc.. who controls them, how do they get their instructions?

So how does it work? First it starts with an infection generally called a Trojan horse. It is called a Trojan horse because it was let in by YOU! That’s right I said you. A free download from a website, Freeware installation of some software. Your reboot your computer and boom you are infected! Your antivirus usually does not pick it up because it is made to install before the av has a chance to start and is not smart enough to know it is a malicious program. Once on your computer it begins reporting to a C2C or a command to control center for instructions. That is it your computer is a zombie now reporting to a Botmaster for instructions and mindlessly infecting other computers. Most of the times you will not know it is happening it doesn’t take a super amount of resources to get done. Most of the times it is only when alerted by your ISP that a Honeypot has flagged your network.

A C2C is one way that a botnet is created a second way and most recent way is a peer to peer. So rather than each zombie communicating back to the botmaster, each computer becomes both the master and the slave, Woooo! Think Skynet! As you can imagine the Peer to Peer method is much harder to kill.

 

How to prevent! Prevention becomes 2 parts education 1 part technology and a good Technology Partner!

Underdog Computer and Network Support will educate you and your staff on good surfing habits and the warning signs. Using proven technology securing your network and making sure your computers are up to date with the latest patches. Our professionals have been doing this for 26 years. Give us a call today 570-634-5350 for a free review of your network. And….. Never Fear, We Fix I.T.

 

 

 

Virus or Malware, What is the Difference?

Viruses or Malware, What is the Difference?

There has been a Computer Virus Outbreak! Hello I’m Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support here to talk to you about Viruses or Malware, what is the Difference?

 Let’s get started. Malware, Spyware, Viruses, hijackers, junkware, Trojans and Worms What are the difference between these classifications? Well believe it or not malware and viruses are not different things but instead viruses, spyware, Trojans, worms, hijackers and spyware are all different types of Malware. Malware is a broad term of software that is used cause malicious harm to a computer. Viruses is a type of malicious software that is meant to replicate and spread like an actual human virus. Because viruses are more popular especially early on in the computer age. Companies concentrated and coming up with “Antivirus” software it wasn’t until recently that other types of malware has shown up and viruses are now a minority.

So let start with a little history, when was the first computer virus? Computer viruses date back all the way to 1949 when John von Neumann, who is known to be the “Father of Cybernetics”, wrote an article on the “Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata” that was published in 1966.

Later in 1971 Bob Thomas developed an experimental self-replicating program. It accessed through ARPANET (The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) and copied to a remote host system with TENEX operating system. A message displayed that “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!”. Later the first antivirus called the “REAPER” was created to seek out and delete the creeper.

In 1974 Wabbit was an infectious program developed to make multiple copies of itself on a computer clogging the system reducing the performance of the computer. In 1981, A program called the “Elk Cloner” was developed by Richard Skrenta for the Apple II Systems. This was created to infect Apple DOS 3.3. These programs started to spread through files and folders that are transferred to other computers by floppy disk.

In 1983 Virus was first coined by Frederick Cohen for the computer programs that are infectious as it has the tendency to replicate. But it really wasn’t until mid to late 80’s the first antivirus program was made.

So now that we know Viruses are just a type of Malware. The question becomes what should you use antivirus or antimalware? Do they really work? Who do I trust?

Like the Reaper from 1971 it specifically was designed to detect the creeper and eliminate it. IF there was a different type of malware back then it wouldn’t have been able to find and remove it only the one it was targeted to eliminate. That is similar to how vaccines are made that fight human viruses. So antivirus programs contain many signatures or vaccines of known viruses. The traditional antivirus programs used signature based detection. It is hard to remember the world before the internet but early on the big names of the time all subscribed to a bbs mailing list where they tracked and detected new malware. They essentially would reverse engineer the virus and come up with a way to stop them.

Many “ANTI” programs detect all kinds of malware. They now deploy different scanning techniques in addition to signature based. There is heuristic which detects variants of malware, behavioral base detection which looks at the behavior of a program and it if acts like a virus it will isolate the program.

There are a lot of antivirus/antimalware and they are not all the same, some do a better job than others. None claim to be 100%. Over the years I have seen my fair share of antivirus applications and when I was starting Underdog I wanted to make sure the antimalware application we deploy can be trusted and is reliable. After careful consideration, we decided to offer Webroot Secure Anywhere Cloud Antivirus. Webroot uses Machine learning to detect malware. Machine learning is the next level of detection and Webroot has been doing it longer than most. If you remember me saying signature based detection requires a human to get a malware, dissect it and then come up with an “antibody”. Machine learning removes the human from the equation thus making it faster and more precise to create “antibodies”.  To keep your computer safe and your company safe you need to have a antimalware program that deploys machine learning like our Cloud Based Solution using Webroot. Cybersecurity is more important today and will be in the next decade. Call me today 570-634-5350. Stay tune for Part 3 BOTS turning your computer into a Zombie! Underdog Computer and Network Support. Never Fear, We Fix I.T. here!