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Sydney - 25 Nov 2008: IBM Internet Security Systems (ISS) warns against a new wave of security threats during the holidays and provides guidance on how consumers and businesses can protect themselves.
Based on both current and historical security trends, IBM ISS highlights five major areas of holiday security risk for consumers and businesses, along with four suggestions for avoiding these risks during the holiday season.
Throughout the year, the IBM ISS X-Force security research team has observed a growing wave of “parasitic” malcode. These are malicious e-mail payloads that bypass end-user security software (anti-virus, personal firewalls, etc.) and compromise the target computer. Once compromised, the computer comes under the remote control of criminals. This holiday shopping season, the ISS X-Force team expects a wave of socially engineered “holiday cheer” e-mails that pack a malicious punch.
As banks continue to struggle and merge, the X-Force team believes criminals will exploit shaky consumer confidence in the banking industry with a wave of phishing attacks designed to fool banking customers into revealing personal information such as account numbers and passwords. IBM ISS also expects to see phishing gangs launch a new generation of fake online shopping portals that spoof well-known brands, in an effort to steal credit card information. They also will likely promote these counterfeit sites with emails, offering steep discounts or “special sales”.
Every Christmas brings an abundance of electronic gadgets, smart-phones and DVDs. Past IBM ISS X-Force research has shown that some of these toys are loaded with malware and can be used by cybercriminals as a backdoor for entry into corporate networks.
Finally, in the past year, cybercriminals have increased their efforts to deface public Web sites by hiding malicious links on legitimate Web sites. When people visit these tainted sites, the hidden links automatically exploit vulnerabilities within their Web browsers and install malware that siphons off confidential end user or corporate information.
In order to avoid these attacks etc IBM ISS recommends that computer users protect themselves and their companies by adhering to the following common sense steps:
Scrutinize all emails: As a standard practice, IBM ISS recommends never opening e-mail attachments from anyone, unless it is a file you expect. E-mail attachments could be infected at anytime, even as attachments from trusted sources.
Update all security patches: Many people delay installing critical patches. IBM ISS recommends applying all security patches and software updates as soon as they become available. Users should pay specific attention to updates for Web browsers and their plug-ins (eg. Quicktime, Flash, Acrobat, etc.).
Resist deploying unapproved "gadgets" on a corporate network: In particular, people should not connect any unauthorised devices via the USB ports in their computers. Network compromise through USB devices is an evolving threat for many companies. IBM ISS strongly advises companies to disable USB port access throughout the corporate environment, but it is the end-user’s responsibility to get clearance before putting a cool new “toy” on their employer-issued laptop.
Keep PIN numbers secret: Many identity theft and fraud scams today focus on stealing credit and debit card information. Consumers should never provide their PIN to any Web site (even ones that look like their own bank). Similarly, consumers should never give their information out over the phone, particularly on a call they have not initiated (criminals are increasingly using the phone to steal personal information).
For more information, please contact:
Thomas Stensbol, Text 100
Phone: 02 9956 5733
For more information about IBM please visit www.ibm.com/au
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