Saturday, November 26, 2016

RIP Tom Hanks? No, it's a fake malware scam

Tom Hanks is not dead. That doesn't stop crooks from using news of his demise to attract victims.

Updated 29 November with additional context after I analyzed the malicious link. TL;DR: Tom Hanks is not dead, and the fake news link on Facebook leads to a malicious website. As an aside, Tom Hanks is not the first celebrity to be used in fake news scams, and I am sure he won't be the last. Other recent malvertisements have claimed the demise of Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Beyonce, and even Facebook's own CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


No, Tom Hanks is not dead. However, a malicious advertisement circulating on Facebook over Thanksgiving weekend uses that headline as bait; readers that click the "news story" to find out more instead get more than they bargained for. 


Instead of a news article, the advertisement leads to a web page that blares an incessant alarm sound and displays the following warning message. As a clever twist, the malicious content itself imitates Google's own malicious website warning. 

Victims that call the phone number on the screen will no doubt be instructed to pay a "Microsoft Technical Support" fee to have the malware removed - a twist on the classic technical support scam.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November 8 is about more than just the Oval Office

Decisions made November reach from the White House to your and my houses.

The bulk of this was written a year and a half ago. This election cycle has brought about caustic attitudes, and a very large number of people stating they simply would not vote this year. I have for the most part stayed out of any political discourse this season, but the following tweets from Leslie "Hacks4Pancakes" Carhart spurred me to update my post.


Even if you're fed u with presidential candidates, please vote local and for the next 10+ years of SCOTUS.

The current presidential election cycle has truly brought out the worst in this country. I've seen caustic arguments between friends and family members. Individuals in each camp call supporters of the other everything from foolish to evil (frequently in less kind terms). Over and over again I hear comments of "I can't vote for anyone but I surely have to vote against so-and-so" or "there's no one worth voting for so there's no use voting." Lost in the noise is that November 8 is about far more than just who will occupy the Oval Office for the next four years.

The soon-to-be President of the United States will appoint at least one Supreme Court justice (replacing Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away this year). Given the ages of other currently-serving justices, he or she may well appoint as many as four. The current court is an evenly-balanced mix of justices who tend toward liberal and conservative; for the incoming President to replace four justices would put decided slant on the court, one way or the other.

Whois David?

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I have spent the better part of two decades in information technology and security, with roots in application developer support, system administration, and network security. My specialty is cyber threat intelligence - software vulnerabilities and patching, malware, social networking risks, etc. In particular, I strive to write about complex cyber topics in a way that can be understood by those outside the infosec industry.

Why do I do this? A common comment I get from friends and family is that complex security topics give them headaches. They want to know in simple terms how to stay safe in a connected world. Folks like me and my peers have chosen to make a profession out of hacking and defending. I've been doing this for the better part of two decades, and so have a high degree of knowledge in the field. Others have chosen different paths - paths where I would be lost. This is my effort to share my knowledge with those that are experts in something else.

When not in front of a digital screen, I spend my time raising five rambunctious teens and pre-teens - including two sets of twins. Our family enjoys archery, raising show and meat rabbits, and simply enjoying life in the Texas hill country.

For a decade I served as either Commander or a division leader for the Awana Club in Dripping Springs, Texas; while I have retired from that role I continue to have a passion for children's ministry. At the moment I teach 1st through 3rd grade Sunday School. Follow FBC Dripping Springs Kids to see what is going on in our children's ministries.