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Blog 85

  • Police and FBI swoop for LulzSec hacker in Essex

    Officers from the Metropolitan police central e-crime unit and the FBI have arrested a 19 year old man from Essex, UK in connection with the recent slew of high-profile hacking attacks on websites around the world.

    The man, named as Ryan Cleary, is allegedly linked to the now infamous hacking group LulzSec whom have claimed to be behind the recent slew of attacks on some of the world’s largest companies and organisations including the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), the US Senate and the CIA, as well as the games firms Nintendo and Sony.

    Investigators believe the arrest to be a significant step towards reaching LulzSec and have taken the teen to be questioned at a London police station while technology specialists are examining his computer equipment.

    The Metropolitan Police statement said “The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions and DDoS attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group.”

    "The teenager was arrested on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act and Fraud Act offences and was taken to a central London police station, where he currently remains in custody for questioning” it continued.

    The arrest is considered to be somewhat of a coup, given that Soca was attacked only this week by LulzSec who in a message posted on Twitter on Monday, said: "Tango down – soca.gov.uk – in the name of #AntiSec."

    The group later added: "DDoS is of course our least powerful and most abundant ammunition. Government hacking is taking place right now behind the scenes. #AntiSec."

    The next day, LulzSec used Twtitter to warn of its plans to step up its attacks by hacking into confidential government documents and websites.

    "Our next step is to categorise and format leaked items we acquire and release them in #AntiSec 'payloads' on our website and The Pirate Bay," the group said.

  • Japan makes virus writing illegal

    Japan passed a law last week aimed at discouraging cybercriminals from writing or deliberately spreading malware or viruses.

    The ruling stipulates that anyone found guilty can be on the receiving end of either a fine or, in the worst cases, up to three years in prison.

    The important factor to note about the new legislation is that up until it was passed, one could only be reprimanded for writing malware or a virus if it had been proven to have caused damage. With the new rules in place, simply writing the code is deemed enough for punishment.

    Individuals who create and willingly spread or supply computer viruses "without any reasonable excuse" can face up to three years in jail, or a fine of up to around US $6,000. Buying and storage of viruses is punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years, or $3,500 in fines.

    Interestingly, the new law also gives police power to seize the email communications of suspects from ISPs, raising concerns amongst privacy campaigners that the police have too much power.

    What do you think of the new legislation? Do you think it’s the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens from cybercrime or do you think the responsibility lies with the individual? Let us know here on the blogs or on the Facebook Community


  • AVG Ambassador Event Round Up

    Protecting children in today’s online world is challenging and complex and most parents need far more advice, guidance and education to find the right balance for their kids.

    This was the main thrust of a vigorous debate hosted by AVG in London last night and attended by UK mummy bloggers, child safety experts and policy makers, broadcasters and publishers.

    The event was held in conjunction with AVG’s release of its Half Term Report for its yearlong Digital Diaries campaign that looks at the changing nature of childhoods today in 10 countries across the world.

    Key findings from the three stages of the research so far, which in total covers children from birth to nine-years-old, are:

    • Kids have an “online footprint” at six months
    • More small children can play a computer game than ride a bike
    • 6-9 year olds spend 3.5 hours a week online

    It is clear that today’s children are growing up in a very different world, vastly different from the world even 10 years ago, when social networking was still in its in infancy and iPads and iPhones were a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye.

    But last night’s debate clearly highlighted the ongoing need for parents to be educated in keeping their children safe online.  Strong views were aired on a variety of topics by the 19 delegates, but there was a consensus that parents needed more advice.

    Eva Keogan, founder of NIXDMINX, summed it up well. “Parents need more advice. Many don’t know about Twitter or Facebook. A few years ago it was MySpace, but where has that gone. It’s an ever-changing landscape.”

    Sian To, founder of CyberMummy, agreed that while some parents had the skills and knowledge to teach their children about what is safe and what isn’t safe online, many don’t, and educating parents was key.

    Facebook as usual was a hot topic, with some attendees believing that parents should be given administration rights to their children’s profiles until they become adults.

    Cyberbullying was another area that provoked fierce debate. Mary MacLeod, Independent Family Policy Advisor, Internet Watch Foundation, highlighted the amplification effect of social networking in spreading bullying images or messages around the Internet.

    She said that some children are in a really bad place. “Before the advent of social networks, when children were bullied at least the home was a safe place, but now the home is not necessarily a safe place where children can escape bullying because it can be online.”

    Jonathan Baggaley, head of education at CEOP, the child protection agency, was keen to empathise that there were some positives as well. He said that many schools had improved their anti-bullying policies and were starting to address cyber bullying. 

    He also added that there is a lot of content, resources and tools for parents and children available, through the likes of organisations like CEOP or indeed companies like AVG. Educating parents and getting them to embark in a dialogue with their children so that kids also benefit from using online technology.

    What remains clear from the debate is that parents are the key to helping children be safe online, and that organisations and policy makers, publishers, mummy bloggers and companies like AVG, all have a responsibility to help educate parents, so they in turn can help teach their children safe online practices.

    AVG will continue to research this topic, so look out for our final two stages of research from its Digital Diaries campaign into online childhood safety this autumn.

    Download Digital Diaries Half Term Report

    Photos of the event will be uploaded soon.

  • AVG Hosting Digital Diaries Roundtable in London

    We at AVG are hosting a round table event in London this evening to discuss our Digital Diaries research into how technology is changing the nature of childhood today.

    Tonight’s event at the Sheraton Park Tower Hotel, Knightsbridge, brings together  an illustrious list of industry experts on child safety, mummy bloggers, policy makers and AVG executives to discuss the role of technology in children’s lives.

    Kids today grow up in a connected world, with smartphones, tablets and internet-enabled PCs forming a core element of their daily environment from a very young age.

    In October 2010, we embarked on a year long, global study to measure the impact technology is having on kids’ daily lives.

    The ultimate aim is to produce a comprehensive examination of technology usage today and the changing nature of childhood. It also set out to provide a series of discussion points for parents, educators and policy makers focused on children and adolescent groups.

    Tonight’s event focuses on a half-term report rounding up our findings from the first three studies. All the surveys looked at parents in 10 countries the USA, Canada, the ‘EU5’ (Germany,

    France, UK, Italy, Spain), Japan, Australia and New Zealand - with different kid’s age groups taken in succession from birth to 16.

    The aim is to provide a stimulating debate around the issues of online safety for children and what role parents should play in this. Parents need guidance in this area and we hope that AVG can help guide them in this area, so their children get the maximum benefit from technology and yet stay safe while they are on our blogs and Facebook page.

    Over the next few days, we’ll be uploading photos and video from the evening, as well as content on our AVG blogs. We’ll report back on what was discussed, points of note and conclusions reached by our group of experts. Be sure to pay us a visit in the coming days to find out more.

    AVG is now half way through the study; having researched parents with children aged 0-2, 2-5 and 6-9. As a result, we have produced this ‘half term’ report pulling together the findings from all three studies and making some initial conclusions.

  • Skype: Beware of New Voice/Text Attack

    While working on her PC, a woman reports getting a Skype call from a user named “Help Desk.” Unable to deny the call, the woman was forced to listen to an automated message that said her machine was being checked for viruses while she was driven to a website against her will.

    She couldn’t find the hang-up button that is normally visible on the Skype dashboard.

    Not knowing where to turn, the woman reported the incident to AVG, concerned she might have been the victim of a virus attack with spyware still lingering on her computer.

    AVG looked into the matter and discovered the woman had indeed encountered a vishing (or voice phishing) attack that pushes users to websites that launch malware onto their computers or try to trick users into providing information that can be used to break into their financial, social networking, and other accounts.

    This new kind of attack is unique in that it combines both voice and text to try and dupe users into thinking they are receiving legitimate calls. While many users have learned how to spot and resist emails and IMs that try to lure them into providing personal information or visiting a malicious website, we aren’t conditioned to be as wary of phone calls. Traditionally with land lines, anytime we get an unwanted phone call, all we have to do is simply hang up.

    This is no longer the case. Because Skype calls are placed over an Internet connection, once that digital connection is established, it can be used as a conduit for mayhem.

    So remember, don’t accept calls from sources you aren’t familiar with. The best way to prevent this is to change your Skype account settings as follows:

    • On the toolbar menu, click Skype and scroll down to Preferences…
    • Click on the “Privacy” tab at the top and make sure you are only allowing calls from Contacts
    • Click on the “Calls” tab at the top
    • Beside the “Incoming Calls” option, check the circle that says “Do nothing”

    If you give out your Skype number frequently, or it is not otherwise practical to only accept calls from known contacts, at the very least accept the “do nothing” option as described above to retain the option of denying calls from suspicious sources.

  • Parents: Where to Find Online Support This Summer

    Summer’s just a few days away, and for parents that means loading their kids up with as many activities as possible to keep them active and out of trouble. For many this also means paying extra special attention to how their kids might be spending their time online. That’s why we pulled together a list of the best sites and software that can help ensure your kids’ computer time is safe, wholesome and fun.

    First and foremost, you can’t protect your kids if you don’t know what you’re protecting them against. Larry Magid’s SafeKids.com is the best place to start. A well-known tech journalist, Larry is also a dad who has devoted his life to protecting kids online since he wrote the first handbook for Internet safety (Child Safety on the Information Highway) in 1994.

    Before you turn on the TV or take your kids to the movies, check out Common Sense Media.  Striving for “sanity—not censorship,” the site helps parents determine what certain movies, games, websites, music and more might be impressing upon their impressionable young ones before they’re already exposed. The site also posts helpful suggestions for parents struggling with how much TV is too much TV and other common family issues.

    Education.com is another helpful resource teeming with information for parents with kids of all ages—from infant to high school. The site includes a forum where parents can field answers to such sticky questions as “What if my son’s teammates don’t like him?” and “How can I tell my sister her son is a brat?”

    For the kids themselves, Togetherville is a social online community that lets parents create safe, gated online neighborhoods where their kids can play with real-life friends and family they already know and trust. There are no anonymous interactions here. And not only is the site free, it’s also ad free.

    The Internet is a place where kids will eventually learn how to responsibly connect with others, but it’s also a place to explore and learn. The problem with today’s most popular search engines is they can surprise the user with shocking images and other content that are unexpectedly associated with the search string. AskJeeves for Kids is a search engine designed exclusively for children. It’s a free, safe, and fun way for kids to research science, math and other school topics in a controlled and age-appropriate search environment.

    While kids should be taught how to make responsible choices on their own, proper guidance requires a little over-the-shoulder parenting along the way. AVG’s Family Safety helps parents filter out questionable content and set time limits on computer usage. When trouble is just a click away, AVG helps parents protect their kids by ensuring their Internet experiences are positive ones.

    We hope these sites prove helpful, and we promise to post more this summer, so stay tuned!

  • Hoax spreads on Facebook while Codemasters and Sony Portugal

    Facebook users are being warned of an alleged “New Facebook” scam despite there being no evidence of it existing. The text, as seen below, is spreading across the world’s most popular social network through users voluntarily trying to keep each other safe by warning their friends.



    With no real evidence to suggest that a threat exists, it seems that this is simply a chain-letter hoax. A genuine alert would contain concrete evidence of such a threat and would contain a link to a legitimate security company’s website where detailed information could be found.

    Meanwhile, UK based game developers Codemasters is the latest company to find its customer information has been stolen after its network was breached.

    Codemasters admitted that the details stolen include: names, addresses, usernames, dates of birth, telephone numbers, gamer tags, and encrypted passwords but the game developer said that credit card and payment details were not stolen.

    Codemasters sent this email to its customers explaining that the breach was detected at the start of the month and recommended customers change their online passwords as soon as possible.

    Codemasters has since shut down its website in order to work on its vulnerabilities and visitors are now being redirected to its Facebook page.

    And lastly, there have been more security issues at Sony. After falling victim to possibly the largest database breach in history, the electronics giant has since been hacked multiple times. Last week it was the turn of Sony Portugal.

    The hack was committed by a Lebanese hacker who claimed to have discovered three different flaws on SonyMusic.pt, including SQL injection, XSS (cross-site scripting) and iFrame injection.

    What do you think of the growing incidence of hacks and the vulnerability of user data? Are you concerned about your details falling into the wrong hands? Join the debate here on the blog, via Facebook or Twitter

  • Parenting tips for the digital age

    With the launch of Little Bird’s Internet Security Adventure last week, AVG shone a light on educating children about the internet, its dangers and its advantages.

    Whether you’re concerned about your child unwittingly giving out personal information about themselves or your home or your child stumbling across something unsuitable online, the task is getting greater as the internet begins to play a larger and larger part of our children’s upbringing.

    Co-author of Little Bird Siobhan McDermott in the video below gives some helpful advice to parents who are try to keep their children safe and educated. Here are her top four tips:

  • Communicate: Talk to your kids, make sure they’re aware of what is going on and understand what they are doing online. It may be a difficult subject to approach but having early discussions about the do’s and don’ts of the internet can help give a child an idea of what to avoid while online.
  • Research: Take the time to check out the various websites that your child talks about and visits. It’s important to stay in touch with technology so that you understand the types of environment that your child is interacting with when they go online.
  • Protect: Use a family security product to make sure that your children are safe from harm when online. AVG’s Family Safety is available for a charity donation of just $0.99 (or £0.95) and has a whole host of features that allows you to block, warn or simply monitor your child during their online journey.
  • Supervision: Remember to supervise your child online at all times, just as you would during other activities. This is to ensure both that your child stays clear of suspect behaviour online but also that they are only ever engaging with age-appropriate content during their online time.


    Little Bird’s Internet Security Adventure can be downloaded here.



  • Fake UPS Parcel Spam Attack

    Windows computers around the globe are now thought to be at risk after it has emerged a new virus has emerged that is being spammed worldwide.

    The new threat takes the form of a fake email from United Parcel Service (UPS) and claims that a parcel is en route to the recipient. The email then details instructions for the recipient to open an attachment to view the details of their parcel.

    It is this attachment which has been discovered to be infected with a virus and should the recipient open the file will infect their computer with malware.

    Below is an example of how the scam may look in your inbox.

    Subject: United Parcel Service notification #[number]

    Message body:

    United Parcel Service
    tracking number #[number]

    Good morning
    Parcel notification

    The parcel was sent your home adress.
    And it will arrive within 3 buisness days.

    More information and the parcel tracking number are attached in document below.

    Thank you

    United Parcel Service of America (c)
    153 James Street, Suite100, Long Beach CA, 90000

    Attached file: UPS_Document.zip

    As you can see from the above details there are a few tell tale signs that should make you suspicious. Here are AVG’s Top Three Tips to staying safe when your inbox serves you up a mystery:

  • Spelling and grammar: Scams and fake emails often have poor spelling, grammar and punctuation. If the email alleges to be from a reputable and reliable company or source (such as UPS) then these mistakes should send alarm bells ringing.
  • Expect the unexpected: If the threat comes in the form of an email promising you something you’re not expecting then chances are that it’s fake. If you’re not expecting what the email is promising then you should exercise caution when trusting and opening its contents.
  • Wear protection: It is of course essential that you protect yourself from harm with antivirus software such as AVG Antivirus 2011 or AVG Free. Different products have different benefits but should you accidentally open a malicious attachment or follow a malicious link, having resident protection is key to keeping your computer safe.
  • Have you received the UPS spam yet? What are your thoughts on keeping yourself safe from these scams? Let us know here on the blog on our Facebook page.

  • Facebook switches on facial recognition technology by defaul

    It’s time to once again login to Facebook so as to review and update your privacy settings. Facebook has rolled out its facial recognition technology to countries outside of the USA. And in typical fashion it has switched the new feature on by default. You might want to disable this function if you don’t want Facebook learning what you look like and using the information without your permission.

    What’s it do? The facial recognition software scans newly uploaded photos and then identifies faces from previously tagged photos. Facebook hasn’t felt the need to tell us this is happening. If you don’t want your name to be suggested, you’ll need to disable the “Suggest photos of me to friends” feature in your Facebook privacy settings.

    Here’s how to do it:

    • Go to your Facebook account’s privacy settings.
    • Click on “Customize settings”.
    • Under “Things others share” you should see an option titled “Suggest photos of me to friends. When photos look like me, suggest my name”.
    • At this point you can’t tell if Facebook has enabled the setting or not. You have to click on “Edit Settings”.
    • If Facebook has enabled auto-suggestion of photo tags you will find the option says “Enabled”.
    • Change it to “Disabled” if you don’t want Facebook to work that way.
    • Click “OK”.

    We recommend you regularly adjust your Facebook privacy settings to make sure you properly manage what is shared and with whom it’s shared. As we’ve seen in this latest example, the rules that protect your privacy on popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn change frequently.

    Please remember that you need to make it a priority to check the privacy policy and your privacy settings when you join a social networking site. Many sites will share your personal information with advertisers and people you don’t know by default.

    When new features are added to social networking sites this could impact your privacy, so make sure you go back often and check for any changes to how your privacy is managed, otherwise you could be sharing more about yourself than you realise.

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