May 2017: WannaCry causes the most of the headache

Nearly a month has passed since the first reports about WannaCry ransomware started flooding the Internet. And there were definitely some intense few weeks. Home users, businesses and even major organizations such as hospitals or telecommunication services have been losing large quantities of data and money to this parasite. Some had to suspend or limit their daily operations because of the attacks. For now, the initial wave of WCry attacks seems to have ceased, so we can look back on it in a more of structured manner and highlight the things that have been causing the most headache to the online community.

For a large portion of May after the virus showed up, WCry has been peaking rapidly and infecting thousands of devices a day. Reports about new targeted countries would also emerge daily, causing panic across the world. Over the span of a month, the malware managed to infect over 400,000 machines, making the history as the biggest ransomware attack to this day. The virus would probably have not made it this far if not for the ETERNALBLUE exploit which the hacker group called Shadow Brokers have leaked from the NSA’s secret servers earlier in April. The exploit specifically targeted MS17-010 vulnerability found Windows operating systems. In particular, 98 percent of the affected machines were outdated Windows 7 versions which no longer receive security patches from Microsoft. This security hole is still a major threat for the users who have are using an expired software or have not updated their Windows 10 to the latest version. Undoubtedly, ransomware will thrive as long as the criminals will be able to take advantage of such vulnerabilities.

Despite the fact that security experts managed to come up with a killswitch and decryptor which partially immobilized WannaCry, the virus success has spiked a new wave of interest in ransomware development. Experts say, that spin-off versions such as XData or WannaCry 2.0 are just a beginning and the grim legacy this nasty cyber infection will continue in the future. Thus, it is important to brace ourselves for the potential attacks, protect our devices with professional security software, regularly look for system updated and keep backups.

Things to consider before installing Amazon Assistant is one of those sites where you can find almost everything you need. Undoubtedly, it’s easy to get lost in a variety of products and find the best deal. In order to help users, the company created the Amazon Assistant browser extension. However, if you are one of the online shopping lovers, you should not get excited. Security experts had concerns about this tool and categorized it as a potentially unwanted program (PUP). The main reason why include: the ability to sneak inside the computer unnoticed, tracking data and sharing with third-parties, displaying an excessive amount of online ads and having complicated removal procedure. If you are looking for an honest opinion whether it’s worth installing or not, we can assure that this add-on should not find a place in your browser’s extension list. Former users even call it an Amazon Assistant virus.

Before installing any new program, it’s important to read the Privacy Policy. This document reveals how much information the application collects and how it treats aggregated data. Amazon Assistant doesn’t mind to share details about your to third-parties. Undoubtedly, this information will be used for advertising purposes, and soon you will see lots of ads when browsing the web. Indeed, it’s disturbing and annoying. However, it might be dangerous too. Some of the ads might deliver fake Amazon deals and redirect to the suspicious websites where you can get infected with computer viruses. However, it may not be the only threat. Once you install this tool, you will receive lots of emails and shopping offers. Undoubtedly, they might be useful, but the problem is that cyber criminals send identical emails. The only difference is that they are infected. For several years, cyber criminals have been sending emails informing about order update, shipping problems, and other similar problems. Crooks uses thousands of different emails to spread various versions of so-called Order update virus.

The last problem related to Amazon Assistant is complicated removal procedure. It doesn’t matter whether users installed it directly from the website, or it sneaked with a software bundle. Plenty of people complains that they are unable to get rid of it. Some say that this program does not have “Uninstall” option, and other claims that it is magically reinstalled on the computer again and again. Thus, if we convinced you to get rid of this program or you are dealing with uninstallation problems, you might find these Amazon Assistant removal instructions handy. Well, if you are one of those people who are still considering its installation, bear in mind that you will need to work hard if this extension does not meet your expectations.

North Korean hacker group suspected of being behind the recent WannaCry cyber attack

The infamous ransomware known as WannaCry has infected a quarter of a million computers worldwide, and the total of headlines about it probably makes authors of Locky and Cerber feel disappointed. There is no doubt that the critical ransomware that used EternalBlue exploit to attack computer systems has attracted much media attention. Quick reaction from malware researchers helped to find a kill-switch to inactivate the virus, however, today security experts warn to beware of WannaCry 2.0 that has no kill-switch. However, recently malware analysts have come up with some very suspicious technical details about this virus, raising suspicions that North Korea could be the one to blame for the attack.

The dramatic discovery was made by a Google security researcher Neel Mehta. Researcher claims that some lines of WannaCry’s source code match code of the malicious software called “Contopee” that was used by a North Korean hacker group known as “Lazarus.” The group was accused of hacking Sony Pictures back in 2014 and also stealing six-figure sum from Bangladesh bank in 2016. However, it is only a small observation, which does not prove anything yet. It is a well-known fact that developers of legitimate or malicious programs copy pieces of code of software that is already available. According to security researcher Matt Suiche, “if validated, this means the latest iteration of WannaCry would, in fact, be the first nation state powered ransomware.” At the moment, it is too early to form any conclusions, and apparently, further analysis is required. It is natural that people are looking for culprits of such massive cyber attack, but at the moment, computer users should focus on methods to protect their computers. eSolutions team highly recommends these tips on how to survive the WannaCrypt attack.

Files encrypted by Wallet ransomware might be decrypted

Wallet ransomware virus has been attacking computer users for a while now. Malware has been updated several times and together with its variants encrypted hundreds of thousands of files using a combination of AES and RSA ciphers. Nevertheless, cyber criminals inform that only they can decrypt corrupted data; it’s not true. If you got infected with ransomware, do not listen to lies written in a ransom note. Do not contact cyber criminals via provided email address. The research has shown that this crypto-malware is just another version of Dharma ransomware. It’s not a secret that it is decryptable. Thus, victims of Wallet ransomware can easily restore their files using Rakhini Decryptor created by Kaspersky Lab. However, if your files are marked with .wallet extension, you should not get excited yet. First of all, you need to get rid of this parasite! Only then it’s safe to decrypt files.

Cyber criminals use clever social engineering techniques and spread Wallet payload via malicious spam emails. Such emails might look like sent from banks, financial organizations, well-known companies, online shops, and even governmental institutions. Thus, it’s easy to get tricked into opening an obfuscated email attachment. Once, you make such mistake, you launch the installation and execution of the ransomware. Immediately all your files have [hackers’ email address].wallet or [hackers’ email address].wallet.lock file extensions, and you are asked to contact criminals via one of the dozen email addresses. Instead of that, focus on Wallet removal and clean your computer from this cyber parasite. All the necessary information about virus elimination you can find here. When you complete this unpleasant task, you can download a decryption software from here and get back all your important files for free. As you can see, paying the ransom is not an option!

Small and medium size businesses have become the main targets of ransomware

Recently, security experts reported about a new tendency showing that small and medium size businesses have become the main targets of ransomware authors. The explanation is very simple: scammers are aware of the fact that employees are curious creatures who can hardly resist the temptation to look at the attachment sent to them by an unknown sender. Besides, they know that after using the virus to encrypt the entire network of the company they can make more – owners of small and medium size businesses are much more vulnerable than home users, so they are ready to pay larger sums. However, you should NEVER think about paying a ransom to cyber criminals because you can be left with no money and no files.

Last month was especially active for hackers trying to mislead random companies and infect them with Spora, BTC ransomware, and many others. To make their employees to open an infected attachment and/or extract the attached file, they have set a bunch of spam campaigns using such titles: Office, Support, Sales, Cleints, Credit Control, Customer Support, etc. Beware that such emails are usually filled with real companies, telephone numbers, names and addresses, so you can easily find them on Google. However, these people have no idea that someone has just started using their names and similar information to mislead users and infect them with malware. Before opening the attachment, you should try to contact the sender first. Also, enable the protected view and disable macros on your and colleagues computers to protect yourself from social engineering.

Fake Flash Player ads on Skype push malware to users

According to several users’ complaints that recently appeared on Reddit and Twitter, the official Skype application pushed malicious Adobe Flash Player ads to users. It appears that users received a malicious ad right after logging into their Skype accounts, which suggested installing FlashPlayer.hta file. Now what happens next can shock you. If the user agrees to install it, thinking that a legitimate software like Skype suggests installing required piece of software or update, the malicious JavaScript code inserted into the .hta file runs a PowerShell script, which connects to a website that hosts malware and downloads it from there. Currently known domains that hosted the final payload were oyomakaomojiya(.)org and cievubeataporn(.)net. However, both domains were taken down quickly; therefore malware analysts were not able to reach them and download a sample of the malware from any of them.

Researchers also discovered that both domains were registered using email accounts that were used to set up numerous questionable websites, and IP addresses used to host some of them led to servers that were used to host even more infectious websites. Reportedly, these sites were used for malware distribution and helped to propagate malicious JavaScript files. If you didn’t know this yet, such files could deliver ransomware, Trojans, or other malicious programs right into your computer system.

It goes without saying that the attack against Skype users was carried out by a well-organized cyber crime gang. It seems that this group continuously registers new domains and shuts down the old ones daily, trying to keep malware researchers away from the malware samples they push to victims. Although no more malicious ads were spotted in the next few days, we recommend you to be careful and stay away from any suspicious ads that might appear on Skype. Make sure your anti-malware software is running, and if you want to be aware of tricks scammers use to attack Skype users, read this article about Skype viruses. Recently, a big number of users complained about a suspicious virus that hijacks their accounts and arbitrarily sends out odd hyperlinks to all contacts.

Improving your company’s security

Business can connect people for different challenges. However, when people are working on improving their company’s financial grow and similar indicators, they usually forget about security. It is a shame because nowadays there are various risks related to the entire company, its clients, and employees. What could be done to improve the security level of your organization? Here are the main things to take care of:

  1. Educate your employees about Internet malware and its capabilities. Make sure you let your coworkers know about the latest viruses spreading on the Internet and their distribution techniques. Each of your employees should know the latest techniques used by ransomware, adware, tech support scam viruses and similar malware that can easily put your business to danger.
  2. Ask your colleagues to start using strong passwords and help them understand that business security is different from the personal security. When using your business profiles, they should forget about “12345”, “password” and similar passwords that are not secure.
  3. Let your people know about the danger of outdated software. Almost every business uses such devices as PCs, routers, printers, and internal servers. Make sure that they are kept up-to-date so that they to could perform at their best. It goes without saying that you need to update your anti-virus software daily to prevent infiltration of the latest viruses. If automatic updates are disabled, you should oblige someone to patch updates manually to prevent vulnerabilities in your business devices.
  4. Look for alternatives for the cloud computing. No matter that companies have been widely switching for cloud to store their sensitive data, security experts do not recommend keeping intellectual property there. Think about dangers rising after a cloud service is breached – hackers can easily try to get the access to your company’s sensitive data.
Most aggressive browser hijackers

Watch out for the latest in browser hijackers –, and

It is obvious that ransomware is one of the most common computer virus types today. Cerber, Spora and Locky viruses already managed to prove victims that ransomware attack is no joke. However, ransomware is not the only computer program that can pose a threat to your computer system and your privacy. Our team points out that in 2017, developers of shady browser hijackers noticeably intensified production and distribution of potentially unwanted programs that are meant to take control of user’s web browser and push sponsored content via it. Most of the time, such questionable companies set up dozens of identically looking websites that provide web search function and create programs that change user’s browsers’ settings to make them launch a particular search engine automatically. What annoys us so much is the fact that these browser-hijacking programs are distributed in a legitimate way, which we consider to be quite unfair. These programs usually accompany various free programs, which do not adequately inform the user about their existence during the installation process.

So far the most common and bothersome browser hijackers seem to be, virus, and virus. The last one is especially intrusive and deceptive one, and unlike the others, it doesn’t even promote a search engine. This browser hijacker is very hard to remove because instead of installing programs or browser extensions, it adds a VBS Script into Windows Management Instrumentations, which makes web browsers launch site automatically. Speaking about redirect virus, we must say that it tries to promote a fake copy of Google search engine, which can easily trick inattentive victims into using it. Finally, hijack brings an unpleasant search tool that always fills search results with paid links. Clicking on any links provided on sites promoted by these browser hijackers can be dangerous. Although it is possible to remove such browser hijackers manually, our team recommends using anti-malware programs as they can delete the infection in a faster and safer way. The Esolutions team would like to remind you to stay clear of suspicious content online, install computer programs carefully and using Custom/Advanced settings only, and protect your computer with an anti-spyware or anti-malware program even if you have an antivirus. Such software helps to detect all kinds of spyware and malware whereas antivirus might only be good at detecting severe viruses.

Bitcoin value goes up. What should we expect from ransomware developers?

You might have already heard that the value of one Bitcoin has just reached the price of an ounce of gold. At the moment, one bitcoin will set you back $1,268, while one ounce of gold will cost you $1,233. Unfortunately, such rise can seriously encourage more hackers to step into ransomware business. Security experts have already announced that the amount of ransomware families keeps growing and has nearly doubled when compared to the last year. The same can be reported when discussing a typical ransom fee. During the last years, it has increased from several hundreds of dollars to $1K. For example, an infamous Locky ransomware requires 0.5-1 BTC. In the meanwhile, newer viruses, such as Sage 2.0 ransomware or Aes256 ransomware, have started requiring from 2 BTC to 10 BTC. 
To prevent such enourmous money loss, you need to back your data first. Keep in mind that each of your important files should be saved in more than two destinations, including your hard drives, USB sticks or clouds. Then, take care of your system’s protection properly. After installing anti-spyware software, make sure you keep it up-to-date.

Youndoo virus renews its activity

2016 was a busy year for security experts – computer virus business was booming and everyone was asking for help. Of course, the main problem which caused a serious havoc on the Internet was an infamous Locky. As soon as this ransomware showed up, the amount of infected users increased from 23,000 to 56,000 cases per month. However, the latest trends reveal that there is a lot more to come in 2017. New viruses, including Spora ransomware, HakunaMatata or Help_Help_help virus (new Cerber’s version), have already emerged. Nevertheless, it seems that we should not forget the old ones.

Security experts are reporting about a fresh tendency – reappearance of well-known viruses that were launched back in 2015 or 2016. We have already notified you about Crypt0l0cker which was first detected in the middle of 2015. Beware that it has just been noticed starting its second round of propagation. It seems that we should also not forget Youndoo virus. The most affected countries seem to be Denmark, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Hungary. Please, be careful with this browser hijacker. No matter that it is not capable of encrypting your files, it can cause unauthorized redirects on your browser. Browser redirects have already been named one of the main ways leading PC users to the infiltration of malware.