Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How unsecure is your Inbox or PC?

We have several ways these days of communicating with our loved ones or business partners. All this is done at a click of a button on our PC. The burden of walking several kilometers just to send mail is gone. Thanks to modern technology. Though we boast of new technology in our days which is faster, security vulnerabilities associated with our technology and our own actions give room to cybercriminals to penetrate into our computer closets. All this is done remotely and we sometimes help them advance their wicked intentions blindly.
One way which is very simple to use is through email attachments. Cybercriminals use email attachments to install viruses and other malicious software on our PC’s. It is no wonder these days that almost thirty percent or more of the letters in our inbox are chain mails with some attachments. They use this method because it is easy and attractive to persuade readers into opening them. Chain mails are a common phenomenon whereby mail is sent to one recipient who is persuaded to send the same email to several other people within a short period. Such mails contain attractive messages some of them seem to be religious in nature just to fool the recipient. You still remember how Love bug virus spread in 2000? The damage caused by this virus alone was estimated at $10 Billion according to

Let’s see how a chain mail can spread within a short period: A sender (cybercriminal) sends an email with an attachment containing a virus to ten unsuspecting recipients in one minute. The next minute each of the ten recipients also sends the same message to ten friends which now comes to a total of one hundred. In the next three minutes the one hundred recipients send the same message to one thousand recipients. By the end of the day the message will have reached hundreds of thousands of recipients. This translates into hundreds of thousands of computers getting affected just because of one chain mail. Their aim is to transmit as many mails or virus attachments as possible. Such mail contains threats such as calamities, loss of property and many more if you break the chain. Superstitions tend to rule the game here and the cybercriminals know this and it is very difficult to establish the originality of such mail.
The dangers of transmitting chain mail include:

  • Introduction of security vulnerabilities into your system by manipulating operating system files through viruses. They also tamper with codes in your PC’s operating system.
  • Such emails contain hidden attachments which may install malicious software such as spyware or keyloggers which spread or install so fast upon opening the attachments.
  • Your personal or company’s information such as email addresses, passwords, bank details, credit cards, may be collected and distributed to cybercriminals for spoofing purposes without your consent.
  • Your PC could be turned into a spam generator through malicious software installed on your computer without your knowledge.
  • Your PC could be turned into a transmission node of a zombie network.
Best actions to consider when you receive such mail in your inbox:

  • If you opened the mail, alert your system administrator about this and take necessary precaution.
  • Never send or forward the mail. Nothing will happen if you break the chain. The threats you receive are there just to persuade you into being part of the virus transmission. Transmission of such mail is retrogressive in its very nature.
  • Delete the message. It doesn’t make sense keeping something that does not qualify to belong to your inbox.
  • Update firewalls. Update windows defender constantly so that incoming threats and unauthorized transmissions are blocked from your PC.
  • Patch operating system accordingly.
  • Keep internet browser updated and patched.
  • Use strong antivirus software from reliable source; constantly run scans and update it.
  • Use good spam filters.
  • If you suspect that your PC has been invaded, pull off the net and scan it for malicious software. Change your password. Always use strong passwords.
Security of our PC’s and mail rests in no one but us as users. We should always make sure that our PC’s have the necessary security. Never allow cybercriminals into getting access to your PC. It is your number one security check.

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