Viruses target social networks

Last week i fell victim to a virus. More correctly i fell victim to  a piece of maleware / spyware. Being as i a work in IT it didn’t cause to much of a problem, but it did make me take another look at the whole spyware problem.

The first think that surprised me wass that my current anti virus/maleware software had not picked it up. I’m a bit of a security control freak and actually run online, gateway , server and desktop Av, none of which detected or matched the patterns in this virus. The virus managed to set up its own proxy server on my machine, bypass my own proxy server, disable my local Av software and  run a number of exe files that mimicked the windows alert modules telling me the system had detected a problem and offering to install software to help. In fact even when i ran deep scans with trend, and spybot search and destroy, 2 leading titles in anti maleware they reported that my system was running normally with to viruses found. It was obvious that i did have a problem, in that there were around 160 exe files running and a new windows explorer window appearing every couple of minutes. It didn’t take long to do a quick google search on the individual exe files and find something that could remove it.

The second thing that surprised me, how easily i almost fell for providing my credit card details on a machine i knew to be affected. After 2 days of working on my laptop, while the very time consuming deep scans ran on my workstation,  I was so pleased to have found something that promised to kill the virus for once and for all that i very almost, went ahead and payed the $30 for an online license.

The third thing worth mentioning is how i fell for getting the virus in the first place. I guess it was a cross between a social engineering attach and a straightforward maleware attack. I in short i got a message on facebook inviting me to view a movie clip from a friend, this then took me to what looked like that persons you tube account, but where you would expect to see the movie playing there was a message saying that my version of flash player was out of date and to click to continue, the usual warning popped up before installing. All of which i clicked through, as it look so similar to a genuine flash updater. Next think you know i’ve restarted and all sorts of pop ups are saying a virus has been detected and linking to software products to purchase to remove this.

When you think about it, this is genius. The latest generation of internet users are very into social networks, but are much less tech savvy when it comes to security, and protecting themselves. They are so used to clicking ‘yes’,  ‘install’, ‘accept’, ‘i agree’, without reading anything of what they are actually agreeing to that they are easy targets when it comes to installing harmful stuff, like maleware and viruses. I myself am a classic example, busy day in the office and a box pops asking me to agree to an update to software i trust from a person i know and i say yes without a second thought.

It would seem that i am nt the only one thought, cnet this week reported on the koobface virus currently hitting facebbok users, and there are no end of others popping up everyday.

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Viruses target social networks

Will the VAT reduction make any difference at all?

I have had to adjust the VAT codes and prices on my Epos systems (electronic point of sales – otherwise known as tills) and online shop this week. The reason? The government think that they can eradicate the credit crunch by reducing VAT by 2.5%, for 13 months.

Am i missing something here? Surely any school kid can see that this will never work in a million years. Firstly 2.5% is not nearly enough to restore confidence, energy costs are still rising for many of us and
that will more than offset the VAT saving. Secondly there is nothing to force companies to pass on the savings, and for the millions small of retail companies the cost and time required to relabel their entire product range it simply doesn’t make sense. Especially when you consider the extra cost of having to deal with additional requirements for small change, and the physiological factor that people like round prices. Then there is the cost factor, if government has less money in its pockets, then its going to be spending less and that is bad for businesses in the Uk, and not only will this money have to be repaid but there is also the interest.

I can see that changing VAT may seem the simplest way to have an effect on people that are spending, but surely it will have an inflationary effect if some companies put up their prices to keep prices on the shelves the same as before the vat change. Surely a change to income tax would have a more controllable and noticeable effect?

I seem to remember during the recession of the early 90’s that there were campaigns to buy british, to ensure that what spending did take place was having an effect at home. This reduction in VAT will benefit the cheaper foreign manufacturers as much if not more that british businesses, and british families.

As i type this up sitting on my sofa at home, the news on tv is talking about increasing numbers of housing repocessions, increased redundancies more businesses going bust etc, etc, etc. I can’t help but think that a 2.5% reduction in VAT is like trying to stop the recent floods with a seaside bucket and spade.

Will the VAT reduction make any difference at all?