Mindset 'key' to hacking prevention

2012-04-02 14:05
Kaspersky Lab's Sergey Novikov has said the mindset of computer users is important to prevent hacker attacks. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Kaspersky Lab's Sergey Novikov has said the mindset of computer users is important to prevent hacker attacks. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The mindset of platform users is critical to their vulnerability to internet hacking and cybercrime, a security company has said.

"If we're talking about Linux users or Mac users, the problem lays in the psychology. All these guys are pretty sure that they are 100% protected and there is no malware," Sergey Novikov, head of Kaspersky Lab Global Research and Analysis Team told News24.

He conceded that the malware (malicious software) for those platforms was not comparable to those for Windows users, but added that common Mac malware could shatter the illusion of absolute security for Mac users.

"The most common malware for Mac is a DNS changer. The malware changes the URL to trying to access some [legitimate] site and it redirects you to a malicious site."

Kaspersky Lab recently recommended Google's Chrome browser as the safest one to use online, but added that no-one could guarantee 100% safety from attacks.


The company would not be drawn on the safest operating system, but recommended the latest version of Windows for users of the popular Microsoft platform.

"What we recommend to all users is Windows 7 - it is the best Windows operating system as far as security is concerned," said Novikov.

While the focus of internet crime has shifted to corporate users in recent times, home were still vulnerable to virus and malware attacks, particularly with the aim of using a PC as part of a botnet to attack company servers and often blackmail the owners.

Botnets are networks of virus-infected computers controlled remotely by an attacker and can be used to steal money from online accounts and hijack identities, among other crimes.

In September 2011, the FBI arrested and charged six Estonian nationals with running a cybercrime ring that infected millions of computers and enabled the thieves to manipulate the online advertising industry.

The malware also makes the machines vulnerable to a host of other software and users are generally unaware that their computers were infected.

The FBI has formed "cyber squads" to combat cybercrime so stop criminals that operate from areas outside of US jurisdiction.

"For our part, the FBI has formed cyber squads in each of its 56 field offices, with more than 1 000 advanced cyber-trained FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, and forensic examiners," said Shawn Henry, FBI executive assistant director in October 2011.


Novikov said that in the past, one could easily detect if a computer was infected by a virus, but in modern attacks, it is in the hacker's interest to hide the malware on users' machines, often exploiting known vulnerabilities in the operating system (OS).

The Coreflood virus hides on Windows machines and enables hackers to steal banking information by recording every keystroke a user enters.

Kaspersky said that developing counties are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime because users do not readily upgrade their computers to the latest version of the operating system which allows hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in the older OS.

"Unfortunately in the emerging markets the percentage of Windows XP is still very high. On the African continent, more than 50% of all Windows computers are still running XP," Novikov said.

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Read more on:    kaspersky lab  |  fbi  |  cybercrime

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