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In this edition of EagleTech's Newsletter you will find a variety of helpful tips and services for improving your computing experience.


EagleTech Computer Service Newsletter

Computing Insights for June 2014

Greetings from EagleTech Computer Service!

Here are some topics we will be covering in this edition :


- Watch Out for the Fake Post Office Email
- Cybercrime is HUGE
- Unchecky - to slow down junkware
- Just another reminder on Windows XP end of service


I know all of us are hearing of more and more instances of serious cyber attacks on personal computers, businesses, and governments, and all of it can be quite unsettling, but generally if we are simply aware and careful with everything we do with our computers and personal information we should be safe. I'm always looking out for you with the most up to date information, warnings, and helpful programs...

Thanks for being the great clients each of you are...!!!
 

Tom Sparks

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Watch out for the fake Post Office Virus:

Many clients have reported they received a notice that claims to be from the US Post Office that they have a package that the Post Office attempted to deliver but didn't find anyone home so they need you to click a link to be taken to a website for updated information on how to obtain that package. The very moment you click that link you will get a virus. The whole thing is a scam. The Post Office never notifies people through that means. If you have gotten scammed by this email you may need to have me remotely connect to your computer and run some deep searching virus removers to resolve the problems it will have caused. Let me know if you need assistance with this virus.

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Organised cybercrime groups are now as powerful as nations:

So often my clients ask me "Tom, what do these virus hackers get from these awful viruses?" This article does a great job answering that question...read and weep...

(The following article is from Steve Ranger at ZDNet)

Dozens of cybercrime groups have reached the level of sophistication where their technical capabilities are on a par with those of a nation-state, it has been claimed.

Gangs are capable of building complex systems aimed at stealing money and intellectual property on a grand scale, costing almost the same to the global economy as counterfeiting or the narcotics trade — more than $400bn a year.

"Cybercrime produces high returns at low risk and (relatively) low cost for hackers," said a report sponsored by security company McAfee. The report quoted one unnamed European intelligence official who said there are 20 to 30 cybercrime groups in the former Soviet Union that have "nation-state level" capabilities.

Nations themselves have been building up their cyber offensive capabilities in recent years — worrying some who see the start of a cyberwarfare arms race. If organised criminal gangs are building up similar capabilities the online balance of power — already murky — could become extremely complicated.

"These groups have repeatedly shown they can overcome almost any cyberdefence. Financial crime in cyberspace now occurs at industrial scale," the report warned.

At the launch of the McAfee research Paul Gillen, head of operations at the European Cybercrime Centre, warned how sophisticated these organised groups have become.

For example, an organised crime group might spread malware which steals bank account details from an infected PC. That same malicious software would also use affected machines to carry out a denial of service attack against the bank in order to distract the bank's security team while the gang cleans out bank accounts using the stolen account credentials.

Gillen said such business models are quite complex and quite profitable and "therefore it's going to flourish".

Online crime features a complicated range of players — from individual hackers working alone through to organised gangs and state-sponsored hackers, and allegiances and networks between these actors change constantly depending on the criminal opportunities.

For example, hackers who steal financial information can either use the information themselves or sell it on to groups who specialise in exploiting stolen details — who then in turn hire teams of 'mules' or 'cashers' to launder money either through their bank accounts, or by buying goods with stolen credit card details and then repackaging and sending them on.

"Someone who wants to infect computers with a particular type of malware would go to one of the organised crime groups and ask them – crime as a service – can you infect 20,000 computers and for that we'll pay you so much. They do that and they get a pay-per-infection rate. It is quite a sophisticated business model," said Gillen.

The aim of the European Cybercrime Centre is to map those organised crime gangs, connect their online existence to real world identities and shut them down. But he said these groups can be hard to disrupt because they only know each other by online monikers and as such there sometimes isn't any real world interconnectivity.

Gillen said: "I don't know whether someone writing a specific piece of malware or developing a specific exploit for somebody who is buying that to deploy would even regard themselves as being part of an organised crime group, but the reality is they contribute to the overall business model."

Cybercrime experts point to the so-called 'Gameover Zeus' botnet as an example of the level of sophistication seen in online crime. The malware is designed to steal banking credentials from the computers it infects; it then uses those credentials to initiate or re-direct wire transfers to accounts controlled by cyber criminals. Researchers estimate that between 500,000 and one million computers worldwide are infected and it has stolen around €75m.

As well as putting their owner's bank accounts in jeopardy, the infected computers also become part of the global botnet of compromised computers, transmitting ransomware known as CryptoLocker, which encrypts all the files of the victim's computer and tries to extort $750 or more to receive the password necessary to unlock the files.

As of April this year CryptoLocker had infected more than 234,000 computers and the FBI estimates $27m in ransom was paid in the first two months since it emerged.

While Zeus has been around for a while, the GameOver version is particularly sophisticated in that it has a decentralised, peer-to-peer command and control infrastructure rather than centralised points of origin, which means that instructions to the infected computers can come from any of the infected machines, making a takedown of the botnet more difficult.

The report also warns that stock market manipulation is a growth area for criminals who hack into companies looking for information — new products or merger plans for example — that could affect a company's stock price, and then use this information to profit from share trading. "For high-end cybercriminals, cybercrime may be morphing into financial manipulation that will be exceptionally difficult to detect".

The report also calculates the damage of cybercrime, noting "cybercrime is a tax on innovation", estimating the damage to company performance, through losses of intellectual property, and the damage to GDP could cost as many as 200,000 US jobs and 150,000 across Europe.


Sooo, what do we learn from this article? It is very important to use the best defense systems when working with our computers. In so many cases the best defense is just to stop, read carefully what the computer is asking us if it can do, and then deny it permission if we are in any way uncertain. You are always welcome to call me for a quick input. For such quick calls I simply note we spent 15 minutes in remote service and I don't bill for such service until you reach 1 hour, so don't hesitate to call me. If I'm unable to answer your call, because I'm working with a client at the time of your call, I'll do my best to get back to you just as soon as I complete the work with that client.

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UnChecky

I know most of you have experienced the frustration of being tricked by some program that loads on to your computer that you weren't aware you were getting with the result that you internet browser home page was changed, your browser search engine was changed, all kinds of pop-ups result, and the overall performance of your computer drops down to next to nothing.

There is a simply little program by the name of UnChecky that does a pretty good job of heading off lots (not all) of these programs and I've been installing it on many of my clients' computers.

If you are interested here is a safe link to obtain this little program:
Just click -
UnChecky Download

If for any reason it doesn't work well with your computer it is easy to uninstall using the Windows' uninstall procedure.

Let me know what you think and how it is working for you.

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Many are upgrading XP to Windows 7:

Whew, it's been a bit of a scramble to help clients out of XP. Some are choosing to purchase new computers and many are choosing to upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7. If you decide your computer still has plenty of life left in it I would be happy to assist you in upgrading to Windows 7 or 8. 

I've just found a source for Windows 7 that makes it possible for me to purchase it at $80, and to transition your system from XP to Windows 7 can be done for $120, so the total would just be $200 and you would be good until 2022.

If you think you'd like Windows 8 that too is available for right around $99 for the software.


Let me know if this is something you'd like to pursue and we can make it happen.
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Best of success to you in all your computing.
 
I’m here to assist you when you need it.  As just a reminder... my onsite residential fee is $40 per hour and for the commercial setting it is $50 per hour. For those times when working remotely with your computer over the Internet is a good option then the cost savings to you are substantial since I only need to charge on a "15 minute" increment instead of the full hour fee for an onsite visit. This means just $10 per 15 minutes and no billing until it reaches one hour. Once again...for any clients you send my way, who use my services for an hour or more, I'd be happy to credit you with $10 of free computer service at your next call.  Do let me know if you send folks my way and I'll keep notes on that as a credit for my next visit to you, and don't feel embarrassed to remind me you would like that credit when I visit.
 
 
Thanks so much!
 
Your Computer Technician
Tom Sparks
503-577-4201

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