Posts Tagged ‘Irish Web Design’

Protect yourself from CryptoLocker

Over the years the nature of computer viruses has seen a change in focus. When the earliest reported example, Creeper, first appeared back in 1971 its sole purpose was to gain access to a system and display the message ‘I’m the Creeper, catch me if you can!’. Now, with so much valuable information about us stored on our computers and web services, something far darker has emerged. Ransomware is a new class of virus / trojan horse that has begun to appear on PCs in the last few years, and it is something you should be very concerned about.

The principle of Ransomware is simple. Usually it sneaks into a system disguised as an email attachment and, if opened, then proceeds to encrypt the files on your machine. When this has completed the virus deletes itself and tells the user that their data has been taken hostage and will only be released if they pay the demanded ransom for a key. These style of attacks were first reported in Russia back in 2004, with the Gpcode trojan horse. Security analysts at Kapersky labs were able to crack the hold Gpcode had over data by exploiting mistakes the author had made in the code.

Now it’s back and this time the encryption is rock solid.

Cryptolocker

CryptoLocker is the latest Ransomware virus to strike unsuspecting users, and so far it’s proven impossible to crack. What’s more, it doesn’t just take all the data on your hard drive.

“It also searches for files on all drives,” reported Steve Gibson on the Security Now podcast, “and in all folders it can access from your computer: including workgroup files shared by colleagues, resources on company servers, and more. Anything within its reach it encrypts…so if you have hot online backups they’re victims of this. Essentially the more privileged your account is, the worse the overall damage will be.”

When all of this is completed, Cryptolocker puts up its money demand page, complete with options of payment (Bitcoins or MoneyPak), usually for around three hundred Euros. There’s also a badly worded message telling you that your files have been encrypted and that any attempt to remove the software will destroy the only key that could possibly decrypt it. In a James Bond-style moment of drama the authors place a countdown clock, normally set for 72 hours, which immediately begins to tick down to the moment your data will be destroyed forever. Photos, videos, documents, music, pretty much anything at all that is on your hard drive, all gone.

The structure of the virus is such that it’s not actually possible to create a key for the encryption, because the data needed to do so is held only by the originators of the virus.

“The RSA encryption algorithm uses two keys: a public key and a private key.” explains Kapersky lab expert VitalyK on the Securelist website.  “Messages can be encrypted using the public key, but can only be decrypted using the private key. And this is how Gpcode works: it encrypts files on victim machines using the public key which is coded into its body. Once encrypted, files can only be decrypted by someone who has the private key – in this case, the author or the owner of the malicious program.”

The removal of the virus itself is of little use to the victim, and shutting down the server that holds the key will only result in the loss of the decryption tool, plus this is difficult because the servers switch location on a weekly basis. So most people who suffer a CryptoLocker attack are given the simple advice of either paying the ransom or losing the data, but like in any hostage situation you can never guarantee that the criminals will honour their terms.

Such is the increase of the CryptoLocker attacks in the UK that the National Crime Agency released a statement from its Cyber Crime unit in which it warned:

“The emails may be sent out to tens of millions of UK customers, but appear to be targeting small and medium businesses in particular. This spamming event is assessed as a significant risk.”

The complexity and sophistication of a program such as Cryptolocker is in itself an unsettling precedent. It suggests more than a simple bedroom hacker with impressive coding skills and little conscience, but instead has traces of the fast growing underworld of professional cyber criminals.

“Something of this size…is a well organised group.” says Stephen Doherty, Senior Threat Intelligence Analyst at Symantec. “There’d be dedicated segments to this, because its such a large and focussed operation. The distribution of Cryptolocker in recent weeks is as high, or higher, than most trojans you’d see out in the wild.”

The need for resources to actually run the scam is also a clue to size of the proponents.

“There’s a lot of stages to this,” Stephen continues, “to infect so many machines on an ongoing basis, and try to process all the money in the background. You’d want a well organised team behind you.”

How to protect yourself from a Cryptolocker attack

The rise of the interconnected digital world has brought with it problems that previously existed in the physical realms. From chancers who play on the innocence of victims, up to serious organised crime that has money, skills, cruel intentions and the willingness to use them on the unsuspecting public.

Take solace though, that we do have ways to protect ourselves from these evil spectres of the web.

The first, and most obvious, is to regularly run full backups of your valuable data and then remove the drive from your computer, preferably storing it off-site. See also: How to back up your PC and laptop

Another is to create several online backups via free services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive, etc., which usually offer versioning – and thus a way to roll back to older versions of your files.

The most important though is to never, ever open a file or link in an email or on a social website unless you’re sure it was deliberately sent by the person themselves. It may seem interesting at the time, but the results could be utterly catastrophic.

This article appeared on PC Advisor

Irish Web Design – Protect yourself from CryptoLocker

Internet ransomware demands cash to unscramble files

Internet ransomware demands cash to unscramble files

cryptolocker
Cryptolocker’s sophisticated use of encryption has made it hard to defeat

Malicious programs that demand a ransom to restore files that they have encrypted are starting to proliferate.

Security company IntelCrawler has discovered malware called Locker that demands $150 (£92) to restore files.

The cyber-thieves behind Locker were trying to emulate the success of CryptoLocker that has racked up thousands of victims this year.

However, IntelCrawler said, flaws in the malicious program suggest it might be easier to defeat than CryptoLocker.

IntelCrawler said it first saw “large-scale distribution” of several different versions of Locker early this month. So far, the malware has managed to snare people across the US, Europe and Russia. It is spread via infected files placed on compromised websites and through booby-trapped files disguised as MP3s.

Unscramble

Analysis by Andrey Komarov, of IntelCrawler, shows that when Locker infects a machine, it deletes files leaving only encrypted copies behind and also drops a small file containing a unique ID number and contact details for Locker’s creators.

The file also warns that no key will be given to any victim who harasses or threatens the malware’s creators.

Those who want to get their data back are encouraged to use the contact details and, once the ransom is paid, each victim gets a key to unscramble files.

However, help could be at hand for anyone hit by Locker, said Mr Komarov, as IntelCrawler had managed to penetrate the network the cyber-thieves were using to monitor victims. This helped the company extract the universal keys used to scramble target files.

“Our researchers are working on the universal decryption software in order to help the victims,” said Mr Komarov.

Irish Web Design – Internet ransomware demands cash to unscramble files

This article is from the BBC News Technology

java logo drawn

Bumper security update for Java released

Bumper security update for Java released

oracle java logo

Oracle has released a bumper update package for Java that closes lots of security holes in the software.

The update fixes 51 separate security bugs in Java, which owner Oracle says is used on billions of devices.

About a dozen of the bugs were serious enough to allow attackers to take remote control of a compromised system, researchers said.

Java is one of the most popular targets for cyber-thieves and malware writers seeking to hijack home computers.

In its advisory about the update, Oracle urged customers to patch the software as soon as possible “due to the threat posed by a successful attack”.

Programming language Java has proved popular because software written with it can easily be made to run on many different types of computer.

Twelve of the holes in Java addressed by the update topped the table that ranked the severity of security weaknesses in software, wrote Qualys security expert Wolfgang Kandek in a blogpost.

If these bugs were exploited, attackers could bypass ID controls and take over a target system, he added.

He said those seeking to exploit Java would probably seed web pages with booby-trapped links in a bid to catch vulnerable machines.

Security glitches in Java are favourites among those that write and run so-called “exploit kits” that seek to compromise vulnerable websites and other systems.

Security blogger Brian Krebs said if people needed to run Java, it was well worth taking time to apply the update.

Those that did not need the software should consider disabling it altogether, he said.

“This widely installed and powerful program is riddled with security holes, and is a top target of malware writers and miscreants,” he wrote.

The update is available via the main Java website and has prompted follow-up action from other electronics firms. Apple has released an update to the version of Java that runs on its computers. This update points people towards the official version of Java from Oracle instead of that supplied by Apple.

In the past, Apple has faced criticism over the speed with which it updated its version of Java.

This article originally appeared on the BBC News website

Irish Web Design – Bumper security update for Java released

black hole

Suspected Malware Criminal Arrested

Blackhole malware exploit kit suspect arrested

Russian police have reportedly arrested a man on suspicion of masterminding two infamous hacking tools.

He is suspected of being the man behind the alias Paunch – the nickname used by the creator of the Blackhole and Cool exploit kits, sold to cybercriminals to infect web users with malware.

The Russian authorities have not confirmed the details.

But security firms said they had already detected a decline in the programs’ use.

A spokesman for the law enforcement agency Europol told the BBC: “Europol and the European Cybercrime Centre has been informed that a high-level suspected cyber criminal has been arrested.

“We can only refer you to the Russian authorities, they are the ones who should speak about this topic.”

The Russian police’s press office said it had nothing to add at this time.

However, Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at the Moscow-based internet protection provider Kaspersky Lab, said the arrest had been confirmed to him by “anonymous sources”.

Blackhole software The Blackhole kit offered an interface used to manage malware attacks

 

Spreading malware

The Blackhole kit, released in 2010, dominated the crimeware market throughout 2012 and the start of 2013, according to Fraser Howard, a researcher at the anti-virus company Sophos.

He said the code had been sold for an annual licence of $1,500 (£940) or could be rented from its creator for $200 (£125) for one week’s use, among other price plans.

The software targeted a range of vulnerabilities in the Java programming language, Adobe’s Flash media player, Windows software and PDF files.

It had two ways of doing this:

  • adding malicious code to hundreds of thousands of legitimate websites, which then copied malware to visitors computers
  • creating links in spam messages to specially created sites that infected PCs
Blackhole email
Sophos said that Blackhole was used to send links that directed users to sites that downloaded malware

Among the malware downloaded was:

  • fake anti-virus software that falsely claimed the PC was infected and urged the user to pay a fee to remove viruses
  • Trojans that attempted to steal financial records stored on the PC
  • the ZeroAccess rootkit, which downloaded other software that hijacked the PC for use in a botnet – a facility used to overwhelm websites with traffic and force them offline
  • key loggers that took a record of what was typed on the PC
  • ransomware that attempted to blackmail the PC owner

Although Mr Howard said Blackhole was once the biggest threat of its kind, he added that in recent months it had been overshadowed by rival kits, including Sweet Orange and Neutrino.

According to the researcher, the Blackhole and Cool kits put together were only involved in about 4% of all malware detected by Sophos in August, down from 28% the previous year.

The figure had since dropped to 2% in recent days, he added.

Another independent security blogger stressed that the arrest was still significant.

“If it’s true that the brains behind the Blackhole has been apprehended it’s a very big deal – a real coup for the cybercrime-fighting authorities, and hopefully cause disruption to the development of one of the most notorious exploit kits the web has ever seen,” said Graham Cluley.

“However, it’s worth remembering that nature abhors a vacuum, and there would surely be other online criminals waiting to take their place, promoting their alternative exploit kits and malicious code.”

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, agreed.

“If indeed it is Paunch that they arrested, that is a major arrest – he is a big deal,” he told the BBC.

“He was clearly the biggest player in providing exploit kits – not just by selling them, but also renting and leasing them to online criminals.

“Both Blackhole and its successor Cool have been very popular.

“Users didn’t have to be very technical to operate them – there was a manual that came with them – they just had to get them running and be able to break into a high-profile website, or create a new one from scratch, to install something bad on your computer.”

This story appeared on the BBC News Technology Section

Suspected Malware Criminal Arrested – Irish Web Design

Royal Baby Nursery

Royal Baby Malware Attacks

Scammers wasted little time after Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, announced the birth of their son, who’s now third in line to the British royal throne.

Royal Baby

“Because it is such big news, it didn’t take long for malicious elements to misuse it,” said Kaspersky Lab security researcher Michael Molsner in a Wednesday blog post, noting that the company’s spam traps had already intercepted an email promising regular “Royal Baby” updates.

The message also included a “watch the hospital-cam” link, which appeared to resolve to a legitimate site that had been compromised.

Although the site appears to have since been cleaned, it was serving malicious JavaScript files designed to infect browsers with the Blackhole infection kit.

Irish Web Design –  Royal Baby Malware Attacks

This story appeared on the Information Week Website

kimberley cookies

Irish Cookie Regulations

Irish Cookie Regulations – Update

This article was writted by Philip Nolan, Head of Commercial Law Department and Partner MH & C and Oisin Tobin, trainee, MH & C. Philip Nolan is a Partner in the Commercial Contracts and Outsourcing Department at Mason Hayes & Curran.

kimberley biscuits cookies

The Irish Regulations transposing the new European rules on cookies have come into force. While website operators will need to exercise care to ensure that they are complying with the new regime, these new rules are less onerous and disruptive than originally anticipated.

Cookies, or small items of code placed on a user’s computer by a website, are vital to the functioning of the modern web. Cookies allow website operators to determine how users browse their sites and are a technical prerequisite for the operation of more advanced websites, such as those which require their users to log-in. Cookies can also be used, more controversially, to monitor user behavior for the purpose of targeting advertisements.

The rules governing cookies are being overhauled across Europe at present due to an EU Directive adopted in 2009. While all Member States are obliged to implement the Directive, they are given a certain degree of freedom as to the exact manner in which they chose to do so. The Irish measures which implement the Directive, and which have just come into force, seem to minimize the potential negative impact of the Directive for websites and web businesses based in Ireland.  As a result, it would seem that the new Irish regime may prove to be an additional attraction to international web based businesses considering Ireland as their EU base.

Under the new regime, all websites must have user consent before they place a cookie onto the user’s computer.  The Irish rules do not require that this consent be explicit and therefore, it would seem that consent may be implied.  In addition, they must provide the user with clear, comprehensive, prominently displayed and easily accessible information about the cookie, particularly as to its purpose. While this regime is somewhat tougher than the previous rules, which required that websites give a user the ability to “opt-out” of the cookie being used, these new rules contain a number of provisions which should ensure that websites can become compliant without having to radically overhaul their design.  The regulations note that the methods of providing information and giving consent should be as user friendly as possible. In certain circumstances users may be able to give consent via their browser settings and many consider that the use of browser settings for consent may become a popular means of managing consents. Cookies which are technically required to operate the site are exempt from these new rules.

Notably, a provision in an earlier draft of the Irish regulations, prohibiting the current practice of providing the relevant disclosures about cookie use in a privacy policy, has not made it into the final regulations.   This means that privacy policies may continue to be used, once user friendly and prominently displayed, to provide information about cookies in compliance with the new rules.

In summary, it would seem the Minister for Communications has struck quite an effective balance between the privacy concerns of web users in relation to the use of cookies and the concerns of industry in relation to over-regulation of the internet.

Attribute to Philip Nolan, Head of Commercial Law Department and Partner MH & C and Oisin Tobin, trainee, MH & C. Philip Nolan is a Partner in the Commercial Contracts and Outsourcing Department at Mason Hayes & Curran. For more information, please contact Philip at pnolan@mhc.ie or + 353 1 614 5000. The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice. Mason Hayes & Curran (www.mhc.ie) is a leading business law firm with offices in Dublin, London and New York. © Copyright Mason Hayes & Curran 2011. All rights reserved.

Irish Web Design – Irish Cookie Regulations

gangsters

Malware creators go professional

The professionalisation of malware

Fagin the crook

Summary of this article: The high-end of malware is reaching a new level quality that comes from it being written by professional organisations with real budgets and high standards. Be afraid.

For many years, anti-malware companies have been capturing immense numbers of new, malicious code samples every day. The actual number is controversial, but it’s in the hundreds of thousands. Not a typo.

These samples are generated programmatically by malware authors trying, by brute force, to create something that will slip through defenses. Most of them are garbage. Anti-malware programs don’t write signatures specific to them, but recognize them by more general characteristics as part of a malware family.

Roger Thompson of ICSA Labs, a security research group owned by Verizon, calls these ‘AFTs’ for ‘Another Freaking Trojan’. The term is meant to contrast with APT for ‘Advanced Persistent Threat’; there’s no standard definition of APT, but basically it’s a more sophisticated malware program which can hide in a target network and perhaps even defend itself.

I spoke with Thompson, who I have known for a long time from his pioneering work for several companies in the anti-malware industry. In a recent blog entry he notes a clear rise in the quality of malware at the very high end of the APT segment; he calls this Enterprise Malware because it is being written by enterprise-class organizations.

Security companies know from their own forensic examination of attacks that this Enterprise Malware can be traced back often to defense contractors and various branches of various governments. We know, at least since Stuxnet (although any fool knew it was going on before), that western governments were developing attack code. We know of similar activities from the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) in China, and now the FBI (with the possible assistance of the NSA) is using malware to infiltrate criminal activities. For years European governments have been open about their policy to allow police to hack into the computers of suspects without a warrant.

Not to dismiss the talents of the last generation of malware writers, but governments and defense contractors have enough budget to hire professionals; I suspect the pool of such people who are willing to work for government is much larger than the pool willing to work for criminal organizations. And with enough patience and talent, we may start seeing malware techniques which heretofore haven’t been worth the trouble. Thompson is concerned about the development of cross-platform malware. We saw an example of this in Stuxnet, which used Windows computers to find and attack Siemens industrial controllers.

As Thompson, who knows a thing or two about anti-malware technology, says, anti-malware software can find the AFTs a very, very high percentage of the time, but you can’t expect it to find these attacks, at least not when it matters. It’s for threats like these that defense-in-depth and rigorous attention to best practices is necessary. For high-value targets, there are also products and services, Solera Networks’ DeepSee series for example, which specifically attempt to find threats which are laying low in a network.

After digesting this information, I was tempted to think that this is good news for those of you under the radar; if you’re not the sort of operation that is going to merit a high-quality targeted attack, then following best practices — e.g. always updating all software and anti-malware, practicing least privilege, forcing strong passwords — then you should be OK. But that’s nothing new. It was always true. The real news is just how essential it is for those who might be the target of a high-quality, enterprise malware attack to follow those practices. And it’s discouraging to see how many organizations fall short.

This is an edited version of an article by Larry Seltzer

Read the full version of this article here:

Malware creators go professional Irish Web Design – Website Security

Gremlins poster

The dreaded Blackhole Exploit Kit is back

The dreaded Blackhole Exploit Kit is back!

Gremlins attack websites

The last week has seen a resurgence of this malicious software appearing on websites around the globe.

Visitors to the sites who have AVG Anti Virus software installed on their systems receive a warning about the infection.

Website owners who do not act quickly to deal with the infection and clean up their websites may find Google blocking access to their websites.

The Blackhole Exploit Kit and it’s many variations was developed by some of the most skilled computer criminals in the world.

It is thought that these gangs originate in Russia or Eastern Europe.

The Blackhole exploit kit is now the most prevalent web threat globally.

The criminals make the software available as a kit on an outright sale or licence basis and each version is tweaked to suit the ‘end user’ criminal’s particular purposes.

In general, the kit uses hidden code to analyse the software on the computer it attacks to find any vulnerabilities.

When it finds some software which can be exploited, it will then run another piece of software, which often in the form of a pop up window.

This appears to be a warning about a malware or virus infection when in point of fact, it is a malware!

The  computer is now under ‘remote control’ by the hackers, who can return and take over running the machine at any time.

What is particularly worrying about this infection is that there is at present no ‘magic bullet’ or simple cure.

Irish Web Design – the dreaded Blackhole Exploit Kit is back AKA Black hole exploit kit.

cookie image

Cookies and what you need to know about them

irish web design cookie monster

Cookies and what you need to know about them

This website, as almost all websites do, uses cookies,  to help provide you with the best experience when you visit.

Cookies are simply small text files which are placed on your pc, laptop or mobile phone when you browse a website.

The cookies help us to:

  • Make our website work as you’d expect
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  • Allow you to share pages with social networks like Facebook
  • Personalise our site to you to help you get what you need faster
  • Continuously improve our website for you
  • Make our marketing more efficient (ultimately helping us to offer the service we do at the price we do)

We do not use cookies to:

  • Collect any personally identifiable information (without your express permission)
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You can learn more about all the cookies we use below

Granting us permission to use cookies

If the settings on your software that you are using to view this website (your browser) are adjusted to accept cookies we take this, and your continued use of our website, to mean that you are fine with this. Should you wish to remove or not use cookies from our site you can learn how to do this below, however doing so will likely mean that our site will not work as you would expect.

More about our Cookies

Website Function Cookies

Our own cookies

We use cookies to make our website work including:

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There is no way to prevent these cookies being set other than to not use our site.

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Our site, like most websites, includes functionality provided by third parties. A common example is an embedded YouTube video. Our site includes the following which use cookies:

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Social Website Cookies

So you can easily ‘Like’? or share our content on the likes of Facebook and Twitter we have included sharing buttons on our site.

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Site Improvement Cookies

We regularly test new designs or site features on our site. We do this by showing slightly different versions of our website to different people and anonymously monitoring how our site visitors respond to these different versions. Ultimately this helps us to offer you a better website.

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We use cookies to compile visitor statistics such as how many people have visited our website, what type of technology they are using (e.g. Mac or Windows which helps to identify when our site isn’t working as it should for particular technologies), how long they spend on the site, what page they look at etc. This helps us to continuously improve our website. These so called “analyticsâ€? programs also tell us if , on an anonymous basis, how people reached this site (e.g. from a search engine) and whether they have been here before helping us to put more money into developing our services for you instead of marketing spend.

We use:

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Advertising Cookies

Cookies are widely used in online advertising. Neither us, advertisers or our advertising partners can gain personally identifiable information from these cookies. We only work with advertising partners who work to accepted privacy standards such as http://www.youronlinechoices.com/uk/iab-good-practice-principles

You can learn more about online advertising at http://www.youronlinechoices.com. You can opt-out of almost all advertising cookies at http://www.youronlinechoices.com/uk/your-ad-choices although we would prefer that you didn’ as ultimately adverts help keep much of the internet free. It is also worth noting that opting out of advertising cookies will not mean you won’t see adverts, just simply that they won’t be tailored to you any longer.

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We fund our site by showing adverts as you browse our site. These adverts are usually managed by a partner specialising in providing adverts for multiple sites. Invariably these partners place cookies to collect anonymous data about the websites you visits so they can personalise the adverts to you, ensure that you don’t see the same adverts too frequently and ultimately report to advertisers on which adverts are working. Our partners include:

Remarketing Cookies

You may notice that sometimes after visiting a site you see increased numbers of adverts from the site you visited. This is because advertisers, including ourselves pay for these adverts. The technology to do this is made possible by cookies and as such we may place a so called “remarketing cookieâ€? during your visit. We use these adverts to offer special offers etc to encourage you to come back to our site. Don’t worry we are unable to proactively reach out to you as the whole process is entirely anonymised. You can opt out of these cookies at anytime as explained above.

Turning Cookies Off

You can usually switch cookies off by adjusting your browser settings to stop it from accepting cookies (Learn how here). Doing so however will likely limit the functionality of our’s and a large proportion of the world’s websites as cookies are a standard part of most modern websites

 

This article on the Irish Web Design website called ‘Cookies and what you need to know about them’ contains content that fiest appeared appeared in the Irish Examiner

http://www.irishexaminer.com/info/cookiepolicy/

ireland website security

Solutions for Website Security

Irish Web Design are please to announce that they have created a series of packages to provide a high level of security to small to medium business websites.

The packages are designed especially for WordPress based information, blog, news and e-commerce on-line shop websites.

 

barbed wire pattern

 

Irish Web Design described the packages as consisting of the three S’s: Scan, Secure Survey.

The website security measures involve scanning the websites for issues, securing the site and finally setting up a surveillance system to monitor the website in the longer term.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of websites around the globe that are running the WordPress software have been infected by malicious software.

Some of the software infects the computers of visitors, who may find a realistic looking ‘Anti Virus Scanner’ pop up on their computer.

The owner is informed that his machine is infected and this software will remove the threats and provide on-going security.

This ‘peace of mind’ only costs a very modest amount, typically $10 to $20.

This is a scam, the programme is not real.

What the criminals who are behind the scam want are your credit or debit card details.

They may wait a long time before they use the information gained to empty your account of funds.

There are many variation on these scams, including straightforward blackmail: you want your site back, you will pay.

Irish Web Design have researched the issue and designed a solution to ensure that website owners can sleep at night.

While there can never be an absolute guarantee as situations can change very rapidly the system is designed to provide alerts to any suspicious activity.

Contact Irish Web Design if you want your website audited and secured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solutions for Website Security

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