McAfee shines a light on the dangers of the Dark Web

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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Everything may seem happy and shiny as you flit about the Internet, surfing from Facebook to Netflix, and popping in every now and then to check your email. But just as there are dark alleys in a city, though, there is a seedy underside to the Internet as well. According to a new report from McAfee, the “Dark Web” has matured into a dangerous underground marketplace for cybercriminals.

While you’re busy buying the DVD of 12 Years a Slave from Amazon, cyber crooks are doing some shopping as well. They’re buying off-the-shelf, plug-and-play exploit kits from the booming cybercrime-as-a-service industry, or selling stolen personal information and credit card details to other online thieves. The Dark Web works a lot like the normal Web by facilitating innovation and commerce—it’s just more nefarious.

The McAfee Labs Threat Report Q4 2013 notes that recent attacks have been unprecedented in terms of the number of records stolen, and McAfee researchers point out just how efficiently and effectively the malware industry was in serving its customers. “The attackers purchased off-the-shelf point-of-sale malware, they made straightforward modifications so they could target their attacks, and it’s likely they both tested their target’s defenses and evaded those defenses using purchased software.”

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Google Play 'night vision camera' app will empty your wallet

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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It’s no secret that Android is the target for almost all identified mobile malware. Generally speaking, though, if you stick to the official Google Play store your odds of downloading something nefarious are significantly lower than when you download apps from a third-party app store. That isn’t always the case, though, as AVAST claims to have discovered an app in the Google Play app store designed to steal your money.

The app is called Cámara Visión Nocturna—which is Spanish for “night vision camera”—and the name seems ironically apropos for an app engineered to rob you blind. As I write this, it’s still available for download. 

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If you download this night vision camera app it will cost you.

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Spritz text streaming technology increases reading speed

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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Between email, Web pages, books and other texts, we each read thousands of words a day. A company called Spritz has spent the last few years in stealth mode, developing a technology to help us read even more, in less time.

Spritz—which is both the name of the technology and the verb for using it—streams text on your screen one word at a time, which, the company claims, allows your brain to comprehend it much more quickly and easily. Their trademarked tagline is “Reading Reimagined,” and after playing with the technology a bit I have to agree.

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Spritz technology enables you to read and comprehend information much faster than normal.

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Survey: IT pros not concerned about NSA spying

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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You may have heard that the NSA has been spying on just about everyone, everywhere without regard for whether or not they are an actual threat to national security. The allegation that RSA accepted a payment of $10 million in exchange for cooperating with the NSA led some to boycott the recent RSA Conference, or participate in the TrustyCon counter-conference that was hosted around the corner. As it turns out, though, most IT professionals don’t seem all that concerned with the activities of the NSA.

AppRiver conducted a survey of the attendees at the RSA Conference. AppRiver’s Fred Touchette describes in a blog post  how the boycott and the apparent success of TrustyCon piqued his interest about where government hacking ranks on the overall threat landscape for IT professionals.

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IT professionals are much more concerned with hackers than government spying.

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F-Secure report warns XP zero-day attack is imminent

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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Are you still using Windows XP? In its latest Threat Report, security vendor F-Secure warns that a powerful zero-day attack against Windows XP is a matter of when—not if—and provides some guidance for those stalwart (or foolhardy) PC warriors who plan to ignore the April 8 “XPocalypse” when Microsoft support for the OS officially expires.

To be fair, F-Secure does not take a “sky is falling” approach to the end of Windows XP support, but advises that “folks that continue to use XP at home can do so with some reasonable amount of safety, for a while still, but they absolutely need to review their Internet (particularly Web browsing) and computing habits.”

F-Secure's warning is echoed from most security experts, as well as from Microsoft itself. A Microsoft blog post points out that malware developers will simply reverse-engineer patches and updates for other versions of Windows and test to see if those same flaws exist in XP. If they do, attackers will develop exploits and it will be open season on the legacy platform. 

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Study: IRS exposing Social Security numbers online

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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This tax season you may have more to worry about than how much you owe. A new study from Identity Finder finds the IRS is not properly protecting social security numbers in some tax returns.

Personal tax returns are not public, but the tax returns of non-profit organizations are public domain. Identify Finder used the OCR (optical character recognition) module of its Sensitive Data Manager software to analyze nearly four million publicly available tax return image or PDF files ranging from 2001 to 2012.

The research revealed an alarming failure to safeguard sensitive data. Identity Finder uncovered an estimated 630,000 Social Security numbers exposed online in form 990 tax returns.

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Study: 6 out of 10 Android apps a security concern

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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Security vendors have been preaching about the impending doom of mobile malware for a few years now. Each year seems to see a dramatic spike in detected malware over the previous year, but users are starting to get a bit cynical about the coming mobile malware apocalypse. A new report from Webroot once again highlights an increase in mobile malware and also sheds light on how iOS compares to Android.

The Webroot Threat Research team analyzed nearly six million mobile applications, and hundreds of thousands of mobile infections between 2011 and 2013 to compile the Webroot Mobile Threat Report. It also reviewed data from around 125,000 customers who activated Webroot’s Lost Device Protection (LDP) feature.

Webroot found that Android poses a greater security risk than iOS. Webroot identified a 384 percent increase in total threats to Android devices over 2012, and found more than 40 percent of the Android apps analyzed were classified as either malicious, suspicious, or unwanted.

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