It’s late and we’re fighting through a rather difficult month of technology challenges for our clients, but I wanted to make sure you got a heads-up on two important news items that happened this week. The first one actually happened months ago, but we are only hearing about it now, after the companies involved were able to plug the gaping security hole. As you can imagine, I’m fairly jaded when it comes to hearing about yet another vulnerability in our technology, but this one raised an eyebrow as it literally affected hundreds of millions of Android users.
Really Google? Again?
Google and Samsung recently confirmed a rather large security failure in the Camera app of both Google and Samsung smartphones that could be exploited to gain essentially unfettered access to the camera, microphone and GPS functions of your phone, all by installing a simple app that only requests storage access permissions. Discovered by security research firm Checkmarx back in July of this year and eventually fixed (supposedly) in August, Google and Samsung only just recently approved the publication of this vulnerability after confirming the patch has been successfully deployed to counteract this weakness.
While this particular incident wasn’t even out of sight of our rear-view mirror, news of a new email-delivered ransomware attack hit my inbox. For this latest campaign the hook was set to exploit everyone’s heightened awareness of keeping your computer up to date, an awareness that we have played no small part in pumping up, and now, ironically, may end up tricking clients into infecting their computers with ransomware. This time, the attack comes as the form of a fake email notification from Microsoft urging readers to, “Install Latest Microsoft Windows Update now!” and provides a spoofed EXE file renamed to appear as a JPG image file. If the reader happens to fall for the con, the attachment downloads the Cyborg ransomware variant and quickly encrypts the users data in files ending with “777”, leaving behind a note with instructions on how to get your files back if you pay the ransom in bitcoin.
The average Windows user probably doesn’t realize that Microsoft doesn’t use email to notify its customers that updates are available, primarily because it can do so right through the operating system. Unfortunately, we are all so used to receiving information via email that we’ve grown accustomed to these types of notifications for just about every other aspect of our digital lives. As a whole, we’ve become too trusting to question everything we receive digitally out of necessity as researching or vetting everything is essentially impractical for the average human. As such, you should continue to make it a rule to NEVER open an attachment that you haven’t vetted fully. Always call the sender to verify if you receive an unsolicited attachment, and if you are at all unsure, check with your nearest IT professional.
Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net