As an ex – I.T engineer who now works in Online Marketing, I know how devastating some of the malware, ransomware, worms, trojans and viruses can be to individuals and businesses. There are always steps that can be taken to avoid these intrusions and save yourself the hassle and heartbreak of getting hacked.
This particular threat works via mass mailing from an infected email account and spreads itself by email to everyone in the contacts list. You’ll have heard the media going crazy about the ‘two week countdown’ until the next wave of threats will no longer be contained and warning you to ‘prepare’… But how?
Affected Operating Systems.
So far this worm is infecting Windows only, affecting: Windows 2000, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 – Also included are various Windows based Operating systems for servers – So far Windows phones are not affected.
With Operating systems older than XP no longer being supported or updated by Microsoft , it is advised that users exercise extreme caution with any email correspondence that have the factors covered below.
How to avoid sobig.f
The worm is spread via email from infected accounts, it will pass itself onto any emails in your address book so it is unlimited in terms of potential reach. You should already be wary of attachments in emails even if you know who the email is from.
The email will be ‘spoofed’ to look like an official address like ‘admin@‘ – then a well known website like ebay or Amazon as examples. It could be Paypal or HMRC and it will look official but watch out for the warning signs:
DO NOT OPEN ATTACHMENTS ON EMAILS THAT SAY THE FOLLOWING:
Re: Re: My details
Re: Thank you!
Re: That movie
Re: Wicked screensaver
Re: Your application
See the attached file for details
Please see the attached file for details.
A Check List To Minimise Risk of Infection.
- Update your Windows Operating System to get the latest security patches:
- Windows 7 or Older Start > Type “Update” and look for “Windows Update” the click “Check for Updates” – Let it run and click OK – Restarts may be required.
- Windows 8 > Click the Windows key if in Desktop > Type “Update” and look for Windows Update” > Click “Check For Updates” – Let it run and click OK – Restarts may be required.
- Ensure you have up-to-date anti virus protection from a reputable source. This is not a 100% reliable prevention method however as most anti-virus will not cover you for malware, worms or trojans which often require you to physically click to download of install the program.
- Be careful where you ’surf’ or download from. Though this particular infection is spread by email, it’s good practice to be vary vigilant about what you are installing… Watch out for unwanted programs downloading onto your PC.
- Ensure that Anti Virus Protection is enabled at all times rather than ‘Click to Run”
- Delete any emails with the above properties listed in the “Do Not Open” section of this blog.
- You may wish to install firewall protection.
- You may wish to configure your Firewall to Block port 8998
- Be extra vigilant with any emails that have attachments. Exercise extreme caution about opening any attachments as the email may appear to be from someone you know, a company you deal with or even recognisable brands. The infection can ‘spoof accounts’ and appear very legitimate.
- Research: Google “sobig.f 2014” to learn more about what you’re dealing with. There is a wealth of information available and guides for removal if the worst case scenario happens.
- Use common sense! It is good practice to be cautious when opening any email attachment and you’re highly unlikely to have a problem if simply check what you are opening before clicking!
- If in doubt, DO NOT OPEN or DO NOT DOWNLOAD!
I’ve seen and fixed a lot of infected systems in my time. As a Computer engineer I’ve seen most phone scams, bloatware, viruses, email propagating worms and ransom ware. It’s heartbreaking to be face to face with the users who have been infected and when you have an elderly lady who lives alone that may not be particularly confident with computers who has had her confidence knocked by a vicious online intrusion, you question how anyone could morally create these exploits.
The truth is, the creators never come face to face with their victims and this malware is usually created with intentions of making money in mind. I’ve seen business owners devasted by these things, losing the data they rely on and having their servers taken offline.
It seems like a heartless way of making money and undoubtedly affects the worlds economy as a whole but it can be avoided: With caution, a wee bit of tech awareness and a bit of online savvy you can save yourself stress, heartache and data loss by simply watching what you click and where you click it. If you know the warning signs then you can steer well clear and surf in safety!