Internet Security

What is WannaCry and How Does Ransomware Work?

What is WannaCry and How Does Ransomware Work?

Ransomware is a type of a cyber-attack that has affects a computer system allowing hackers to take control of it and blocks all access to it until a ransom is paid by the users. To gain access to the system, the cyber criminals have to download harmful software onto the device that’s in the network and they often do this by tricking the users in clicking a link that downloads it onto the system. Learn python for network engineers is a must  for handle this type of ransomeware cyber attack effectively.

Through the downloaded software already on the system, the hackers can Ransomeware attack all of the user’s files that it can find within a network and lock it. This is usually a gradual process where the files are encrypted one by one.

Big companies with elaborate security systems are able to identify this occurring and can single out documents to reduce the damage. However, individual users may have a hard time due to lack of such security systems which could result in losing out on all of their data.

Once all the files are locked, cyber criminals demand for a payment to be made in order to unlock the files on the victim’s computer. The payment is usually asked to be made in the form bitcoin which is the online cryptocurrency.

WannaDecryptor – What is it?

WannaDecryptor is also known as WannaCry or wcry for short and is a specific ransomware program that locks all the files and data on a system and only leaves two files for the user. One being the set of instructions on what to do next and the other, the WannaDecryptor program itself.

When opened, the ransomware software tells the user that all their files have been encrypted and gives them a few days’ time to make a payment failing which their files will be deleted. Ransomware asks for the payment in Bitcoin, giving instructions on how to purchase it and also provides a Bitcoin address to send the payment to.

Most of the computer security companies can bypass the ransomware software with the help of ransomware decryption tools that they have. This was used in a wide-scale cyber-attack that affected many big organisations across the world, a few being the NHS and the Telefonica in Spain.

Protection against Ransomware

In order to be immune to the ransomware attack, one must back up all the files in a completely separate system. Hence, in the future, in case of an ransomware attack, no information or data will be lost.

It is difficult to stop the hackers before they launch a ransomware attack but a few precautionary measures could be taken. The cyber criminals need to download the harmful software onto the user’s computer, phone or any other connected device. Very often, the hackers install the virus through infected emails and websites.

For example, the attackers could send a phishing email to an employee posing as if it’s a mail from their boss, asking them to check out a link. But it actually links them to a malicious website that secretly downloads the virus onto the system. A device can also get infected by downloading a harmful program or application or just by visiting a website that contains infected advertisements too.

The best approach to prevent such ransomware mishaps is to be cautious of unsolicited emails and rather than clicking on the link. The website can be checked out by typing out the web address in another window.Another precaution is to make use of antivirus programs that can scan a file before it is downloaded, block secret background installations and search for malware that may already be present on the computer.

Sophisticated and elaborate defences have been developed by cyber security companies which include machines that fight against the hackers once spotted on a system. The Antivirus should be updated on all the systems and the latest software patches from Microsoft should be downloaded.

One can also ensure that smart screen (in Internet Explorer) is left turned on which assists in spotting reported phishing and harmful websites, thus helping the user make reconsider before making any downloads. A pop-up blocker is also useful as it automatically blocks unwanted websites from opening automatically. For higher security, the security tools available on the IT ministry website can be used.

What Should Ransomware Victims Do?

Though there is no permanent solution to the problem, there are a few blind spots that one could take advantage of to either control the damage or prevent it from spreading.

According to Cert-In, the system’s user should immediately disconnect it from the internet to prevent it from spreading to other systems. Since the ransomware encryption is done one file at a time, the user should immediately make an attempt to back up the remaining files in order to try and salvage as much data as one can.

If all the files are found to be locked, it is advisable for the victims to refrain from paying the ransom as it will further encourage the hackers. Even if the payment is made, there is no surety that the files will be returned to them intact. The best thing to do in such a situation is to restore all the files from the backup that was created. If that is not possible, there are some tools available that help recover a part of the lost information.

What is Bitcoin?

Often hackers demand payment in the form of Bitcoins usually between 0.3 and 1 Bitcoins, which is £400 – 1,375, but there is a possibility that they can demand a payment in dollars but made via Bitcoin. Cyber criminals usually demand payments through this digital currency since it is unregulated and practically untraceable. Although it is impossible to trace, the amount of the payment made is however public information. The amount may seem small to charge, but these ransomware attacks are wide-spread, so the payments altogether can be a huge amount.

Kill Switch

To prevent the spread of WannaCry, a Cyber-security researcher discovered a “kill-switch”, which was in fact by accident. The researcher, a twitter user,tweeted that the registering of a domain name that was by the malware, stopped itsspread. However, it did not help the computer systems that were already affected by this ransomware attack. He also warned that the threat was not yet fully averted as the culprits behind this ransomware attack could come up with a new way by changing the code and trying again. He warned users to update the patches on their systems since the attackers would definitely try again.

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Virtual Reality Typing Lights up Ideas and Keyboards

Virtual Reality Typing Lights up Ideas and Keyboards

Computer scientists from the Michigan Technological University have presented a new research that studies the different ways one could type into a virtual reality space also called as VR. They conducted a presentation at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems and stated that while texting has become an integral part of our digital lives, it is an area of research that has surprisingly less emphasis in the development of Virtual Reality.

Scott Kuhl, who is an associate professor of computer science at Michigan Tech, stated that many people are purchasing head-mounted displays for mostly video games and they are trying to figure out how the head-mounted displays can be used in an office for writing or editing a document or emailing someone.

These ordinary tasks are not yet ideal in Virtual Reality, but by making the user wear a headset that resembles a sleeping mask that’s oversized, Virtual Reality can transport the user in a surreal place which can be anywhere in the world. The trick lies in creating a balance between visuals on the head-mounted display and what can be touched physically by the person. Both the aspects are required for the purpose of typing.

Head-Mounted Display

Also researching with Kuhl was James Walker, a computer science lecturer, for the purpose of his dissertation. He said that the challenge lied in the fact that the user needed to see what they were typing and that was difficult with a headset mounted over the eyes.

So as a solution to this he developed a light-up virtual keyboard that was synced with a physical keyboard.This keyboard helps the Virtual Reality user to see what keys are typed in the head-mounted display while using the physical keyboard at the same time.Mid-air virtual keyboards or overlaying of real-world video into the Virtual Reality display are the two methods on which other Virtual Reality typing systems depend on.

However, both require additional equipments such as tracking cameras, which are prone to errors and are invasive. The quality of texting also declines with the availability of only virtual keyboards. Walker says that his solution is significant as it allows people to continue using the physical aspects to interact which makes way for better performance. Also, it doesn’t need additional hardware or an arrangement where a video feed is superimposed into the virtual environment.

Autocorrect Algorithm called VelociTap

Walker conducted an experiment in order to assess the efficiency of a physical keyboard where participants had to type on a keyboard they couldn’t see. In the first part, participants were given a head-mounted display to use which in this case was an Oculus Rift.

In the second part, participants were made to use a desktop monitor along with a keyboard that was out of their view but could be used to type. Both were tested with and without Walker’s virtual keyboard. Most of the participants reported back with at least proficient typing skills.

However, those without the virtual keyboard lighting up keys made a lot of mistakes. This experiment help set the basis for not just Virtual Reality testing but also to observe how far does autocorrect help in this scenario.Through this study, their team developed a language model to automatically correct the typing called VelociTap, a touch recognition screen program that has been trained on billions of words making it very accurate. The aim is now to implement texting, for both work and play, into Virtual Realityby using physical keyboards.

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Blogging Tips

How Social Media Marketing Helps Small and Local Businesses

How Social Media Marketing Helps Small and Local Businesses

Whether you are running a global business with targeted audience all over the world or if your business targets a small area where you live, it is absolutely essential to make use of the various social media that exist in the Internet. In this article, I address the local businesses.

You must be aware of what the statistics say:” ….for every third search made in search engines, one is targeted locally”.

Statistics don’t lie but of course will vary for sure every second. In order to capture the local market to the fullest extent possible, your business needs to ride on the social media wave; else, as per the popular cliché, you are ‘leaving the money on the table’.

The invention of social media is bringing the world as close as possible. For businessmen, it is one of the most powerful online tools in terms increasing sales with a meager investment.

Have you ever realized that there has never been a better way to reach thousands of targeted customers and expose your products or services to them, who, thus far, had never even heard of you?

Nevertheless, before you embark on this journey, it’s important to understand what to expect from social media and how to ensure that you’re generating the lion’s share from it.

Infinite patience produces instant results.

The most important aspect of making an impact in social media marketing is to first create an unshakable in trust you. Your social media content should be able to do that. It won’t be achieved in a few months but at least a year will have to pass before your prospective customers begin to notice you and slowly are drawn towards you.

With dedication, you need to consistently update, interact, and research the latest business trends in your industry.

Consider the following:

Gaining trust: Just like you develop a friendship with your neighbor and it becomes strong over a period, gaining trust in the social media world should be treated the same. It takes time and effort to prove yourself, but once you do, the rewards for your efforts are worth it.

Planning takes time: You’ll need to develop an effective plan and stick to it, in order to get the most from social media. This surely requires a long-term commitment on your part.

Tracking Progress: You must invest time and money to track your progress, once you have set the wheels in motion. This way you’ll be able to determine what’s working for you and what needs to be changed.

Interaction with Customer:  Customer interaction needs to be a permanent activity. Everything you’ve built up can be easily lost if you forgo customer interaction and engagement.

Don’t Give Up.

It is very likely to happen that none of your efforts are producing results; it would seem so but not really. You must give time for the seeds you have sown to germinate.

When you find yourself in such a depressing situation, consider tackling social media marketing with new videos, photos, or anything that will excite you, and in turn give people something to talk about.

Social media marketing takes time, effort, and dedication.

6 Leading Social media.

The top 6 social media sites that are swarmed by billions of people as well businesses are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Linkedin
  4. Youtube
  5. Google plus
  6. Pinterest

Take social media marketing seriously. There are ample free guides in the web to educate you.

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Wing Things: The Various Types of Aerial Drone Platforms

Wing Things: The Various Types of Aerial Drone Platforms

If you’re considering getting started flying drones for recreation, you have your task cut out for you — you have an endless array of choices with wonderful, high-tech models everywhere you look. You have a learning curve ahead of you finding out what kind of choice to make.

Right here, you can start with these quick descriptions of the four major designs in use today.

Multi-rotor drones

The most common drone type seen in many applications, multi-rotor drones have three or more rotors. Designs start from cheap toy models that cost as little as $20 to ones that are powerful enough to carry several pounds of payload and cost as much as $5,000.

Multi-rotor drones have a lot going for them, including low cost, ease of control, an ability to hover like a helicopter, and safety. The spinning rotors on these vehicles are tiny and not very powerful. If you accidentally hit someone, the injuries aren’t likely to be serious.

While multi-rotor models are the cheapest drone variety, they do come with downsides. With their many rotors to spin, their batteries don’t usually last very long. A good, mass-market model is likely to fly no longer than 20 minutes, less if there is a heavy camera to carry.

Fixed-wing drones

Fixed-wing drones tend to look like one of those cool Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bombers. Unlike multi-rotor drones, these needs to glide to stay aloft — they don’t hover. Extended flight time is the greatest advantage that comes with choosing this design. Since these craft are able to glide on their wings, their propellers don’t need work as hard. A battery-powered fixed-wing drone can stay up two hours, and one powered by a gas engine can fly as long as 16 hours.

On the downside, fixed wing drones are like airplanes — they need space to take off and land, and the take skill to fly. You need to pay attention to technical nuances like angle of attack, pitch and yaw. If you bank wrong or angle too hard into the wind, you’ll face a stall situation. If you’re happy to really invest in learning the skill and don’t need to hover, fixed-wing drones are for you.

Single-rotor drones

Single-rotor drones come in a very familiar form — they look and function exactly like helicopters. While there are models that run on battery power, the most popular ones run on gas engines. Single-rotor drones tend to be large at 6 feet from tip to tail, and are powerful enough to carry movie cameras. With only one rotor to fly on, they do offer a lot more flying time than multi-rotor models that tend to waste a lot of energy. These vehicles can be very expensive, however, and take a great deal of skill to fly.

It’s also important to keep in mind that with their large helicopter-like blades, their weight, speed and size, these are not toys. If they are handled incorrectly, terrible accidents are bound to happen.

Hybrid VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing)

These are large, helicopter-like craft as well, but with a huge difference — they have wings as well as rotors. These are used by companies like Amazon to deliver some of their merchandise. At this point, these are expensive, and you would need special connections to find one. They aren’t in production yet. But when they come on the market, they could be a lot of fun, because they provide both hover and gliding flight, and come with various autopilot features.

According to Drone Enthusiasts (Dronethusiasts Rankings – Top Camera Drones), the kind of model you choose depends on the purpose that you have in mind, the amount of investment that you’re willing to bring to the activity and the amount of skill you’re willing to learn.

If you’re only starting out, multi-rotor craft are likely to work the best.


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Internet Security

Don’t fall for This Computer Virus Scam!

Don’t fall for This Computer Virus Scam!

Undoing the menace of online fraud  Scam

Scams have become a menace these days, affecting millions of computers worldwide. This has also resulted in unnecessary fear amongst people with panic gripping many of the internet users. Taking advantage of the turmoil, scammers have found a new way to swindle off money by luring people into buying fraudulent anti-virus software.Frequent spam emails, adware pop-ups and high pressure sales tactics is the new modus operandi of fraudsters operating online. Very often, users are tricked into sharing confidential information which is then used to loot money from people’s bank accounts.

Unveiling the latest tricks to Scam People

There’s a new trend in market which is catching people off guard is the use of sudden pop-up advertisements.  These ads pop up whenever someone visits a website or scrolling through a webpage, showing a fake warning that the user’s computer has been affected by malware and needs immediate repair. The fraudsters design the whole procedure in such a manner that one cannot hardly differentiate them from the legitimate ones.

These advertisements prompt the user to call some servicemen to deal with the virus issue. Most of the time, novice users fall prey to such social engineering tactics and gets convinced by scamsters that their computer is infected by malicious software. Once the user grants access of their computer to these conmen, they install certain spyware and adware instead of legitimate anti-virus software and gains access to all of user’s personal information and financial transaction.  Aged people and inexperienced users are usually the soft targets of these scam.

FTC in action

The US government have started their operation against such scams/fraudsters after noticing large increase in internet fraud. The Federal Trade Commission which the chief regulatory body in this regard, is doing all in its capability to book the culprits behind the scam. Pam Bondi, the attorney general of Florida who is known to be operating closely with the Federal Trade Commission has told users to remain alert and report such crimes whenever they occur.

About 16 new enforcement actions by the FTC are said to be in the process of implementation to nab the conmen. Till now, the commission has received more than 96,000 complaints in this regard with people getting conned for a total amount of $24.6 million.

The FTC is working closely with internet giants like Apple and Microsoft to device ways to protect people from such internet scams and frame charges against the scamsters.  Whenever users call numbers given in the pop-up advertisements, they are usually greeted by telemarketers who tries to convince that they are certified servicemen from legitimate companies like Apple and Microsoft. In this way, it’s easy for them to gain trust of the internet users.  FTC warns people not fall for such social engineering tricks and instead call up service centers of Microsoft and Apple directly. It has also warned against replying to spam emails pretending to be from authentic sources.

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