Android Ransomware – How To Stay Safe

android ransomware

Everybody is talking about ransomware and Windows security loopholes after the deadly extortion attack last Friday. But what about the 800 million android users worldwide? Are android users vulnerable to any kind of android ransomware (malware) attack?

Yes, just like Windows OS, Android is also vulnerable to malware attacks, especially ransomware attacks. In fact, researchers rank ransomware the number one mobile malware risk for 2016-17.
Our dependence on smartphones is increasing day by day, thanks to the advancement in the smartphone technology. Latest smartphones meet our technological needs with ease. Now a days if you have a latest smartphone probably you are not going to need a PC or Laptop computer. From emails to social networking to financial transaction to online purchase, everything is smoothly operated from a smart device. Keeping that in mind cyber criminals have shifted their focus to smartphone users, especially android users. As you can imagine, ransomware has become a big business for cybercriminals and this ugly trend is expected to become a more serious problem in the future.

How ransomware works in an android device?

Third-party installation of apps exposes an android device’s security vulnerabilities. Most of the victims of ransomware are those who do not mind installing apps from third-party source. Cybercriminals trick victims by asking them to install certain video player or flash player to watch some interesting video. Some victims are lured by the promise of being able to install pirated paid APK files of some paid games or other types of paid apps for free.

Once the ransomware is installed in the android device it does either of the following two things:

It locks the device’s screen (Lock-Screen Ransomware)

Commonly, these kind of ransomwares are coded by inexperienced and unprofessional script kiddies. This kind of ransomwares locks the device’s screen and do not allow the victim to use, reboot or shutdown the device. Generally under this kind of ransomware attacks victim’s personal files are not encrypted. Most of the times you can recover your personal files by rebooting your device in safe mode. To reboot your android device press and hold your device’s power button for a few seconds until the Android OS prompts you to turn off your device. Next, tap and hold Power off for a few seconds until your phone asks you to confirm that you want to enter safe mode. In safe mode you can also uninstall the installed malicious app. But it is not always that easy. Sometimes your android device does not reboot at all and you end up with losing your personal files. One instance of this kind of ransomware is “Jiust”. Jiust was a localized ransomware and it targeted Chinese android users.

It encrypts victim’s personal files (Crypto-ransomware)

These kind of ransomware cause more serious damages, because it encrypts the personal files of a victim and on most occasions the victim lose them. Even meeting the demand of the cybercriminals does not guarantee the recovery of the personal files. Crypto-ransomwares is capable of encrypting your personal files present both in your device’s memory and SD card. It uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) algorithm to encrypt victim’s personal files. AES algorithm is a 128-bit encryption which is considered to be logically unbreakable. That means once your files are encrypted using AES algorithm, it is almost impossible to decode them without the keys. One example of this kind of ransomware is “Simplocker”. In the year 2014 “Simplocker”emerged from the Russian underground forum. It made the victims feel that their device is locked by the law enforcement agency, because they detected some illegal activities on victim’s android device.

Either way it completely disable your device and leave the victim with two options, pay the demanded money or lose personal files.

Apart from above two most commonly used methods, some ransomwares can pretend to be some kind of anti-virus program, or adult video player app. But what’s common among all of them is their demand of a sum of money from the victim while promising to release the encrypted files in exchange.

Cybercriminals use cryptocurrencies like MoneyPak, BitCoin, Litecoin, Zcash, Ripple etc. Cryptocurrencies does not require any connection to banks, and that helps cyber criminals to stay safe from law-enforcement agencies.

Android Ransomware Prevention:

Backup Your Files

The first thing you gotta do is to backup your personal and important files. Ransomwares can never do any harm if you practice backing up your important files regularly. We all know that backing up files is important, but normally we do not expect anything terrible so we ignore it. Backing up files not only save your files from cybercriminals but from fire accidents, theft or device failure. It is crucial to backup your files. Start today. If your files are extremely important for you, going for multiple backup is a great idea. You can backup your files using a flash drive, or an external hard drive. Another good option is cloud storage.

Keep Your Android Software Current:

Updating software is not only about getting new features but making sure your software do not have any security loopholes. Android operating system often leads to big downloads and prolonged installation times, but you have to remember that it is very crucial to keep your android operating system current for security reasons. Not just the operating system but keep your apps updated. If you want to stay safe online do not forget to keep your softwares, operating system and apps up to date.

Mobile Security Suite:

Unlike Apple, not all android apps are checked and monitored for potential security threats. Although google’s security is good, its safeguards can be bypassed. That adds extra responsibilities on the user. Keeping that in mind installing a reliable and paid mobile security suite can be a good decision. Some of the best options are: Norton Mobile Security, Avast Mobile Security and Kaspersky Antivirus & Security.

Check App Permissions:

Take a look at the permissions you have granted to various installed apps. Although permissions are important for apps to run properly, sometimes apps ask for unnecessary permissions. Cybercriminals exploit this to access user information. If an app asks for permissions that looks like irrelevant, better do not install it, unless it is a popular and reputed app.

Install Apps From Reputable Source:

Always depend only on reputable stores like Google Play Store or Amazon to install apps. 3rd party installation is never safe unless you are too sure about its security. It is not easy for general users to distinguish between a good .APK file from bad one. In that case it is better not to risk. Generally, cybercriminals plant malicious apps on shady websites and on unknown sources to trap android users.

WannaCry Ransomware Attack – How To Stay Safe

wannacry

WannaCry? Well, we all go through that emotion but right now we are not talking about that feeling but about a dangerous ransomware that can truly make you cry. In couple of days “WannaCry” ransomware has made 100,000 users from 150 countries cry. WannaCry ransomware attack is the biggest extortion attack ever recorded. It has already affected Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway network, and many universities in China. Apart from that many factories, government agencies, banks and transport systems in India, US, Russia have been affected. The fast spreading capability of this ransomware has made it really dangerous.

 

 

What WannaCry Ransomware Does To Its Victims?

It blocks access to the files in your computer after encrypting them. It demands $300 from victims to get their files back.

 

Who Is More Vulnerable? How To Stay Safe?

WannaCry ransomware is exploiting a Microsoft Windows loophole. If you did not apply for the Microsoft’s March software update, your windows pc is vulnerable to this ransomware.

 

  1. Update your Microsoft Windows software immediately.
  2. Do not click on any link from your email inbox unless you are sure it is safe.
  3. Do not download any free software from less-trusted websites.
  4. Backup your important files in an external storage device or in cloud.
  5. Use a paid and good antivirus software.
  6. Do not use an outdated operating system like Windows XP, Windows Vista.

Who is Behind This Attack?

Although it is uncertain who actually released this ransomware, this malicious program has Cyrillic script written all over it. So maybe it has a Russian origin.

The True Definition Of Artificial Intelligence

artificial intelligence

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “Artificial Intelligence” or AI? Probably a humanoid robot that you see in sci-fi movies like C-3PO of “Star War” or Dolores of “West World”, right? In more practical sense if we look for Artificial Intelligence’s real definition then probably we would go for the dictionary definition. Dictionary defines artificial intelligence as the process of simulating human like intelligence and behavior in a computer is “artificial intelligence”. Another dictionary definition of AI is that the capability of a machine to imitate human intelligent behaviour is called “artificial intelligence”. But do these dictionary definitions define artificial intelligence correctly? Probably not. Because over time the true meaning of artificial intelligence has changed (or upgraded) quite a bit. In the year 2017 and onwards this definition of AI is not complete, and therefore not correct.

The True Definition Of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence does not necessarily have to be in a humanoid form. It is not just a programmed application anymore, no matter how useful it is.

 

Modern Artificial Intelligence must have the following 4 features:

  1. It should be able to learn in some manner using sensors and input mediums. Self-learning ability is something an AI must have these day. Otherwise it is not Artificial Intelligence at all.
  2. Based on that learning AI must be able to take actions.
  3. Modern AI must interact and react to its surroundings.
  4. And finally AI must be able to gain knowledge over time and with its exposure to its environment. AI must grow stronger with passing time.

Success Comes From Sacrifices

Mr Jonathan Phua

Successful people make many sacrifices to follow their dreams.Success does not come overnight, it takes time and requires lot of focus and perseverance. Here is a recent example of how two guys achieved success and recognition by making sacrifices and by blindly following their dreams. I’m sharing this with you because I believe there are many people on this page here who can relate to this story.

 

Mr Jonathan Phua, 39 years old, was a programming geek. He started his career at DSO National Laboratory as a programmer. Although he was getting a handsome pay packet, he always wanted to start his own cyber security company. Luckily he met Mr Chen Kin Siong who was also working at DSO National Laboratory with him. From very young age Chen Kin Siong was passionate about hacking computers and he was quite skilled in breaking into any computer operating system. Together they planned to start a cyber security company, but for that they had to leave their current job, which was giving them a good life and career. But they had to follow their dreams and in the year 2015 they resigned from their comfortable and high paid jobs and started “InsiderSecurity”, a cyber security company. Their main goal was to make cyberspace more secure for its users. Their company provides “automated cybersecurity monitoring software” to enterprises. Within couple of years they have earned the recognition on account of their hard work. Still their struggle is not over. They work double yet earn half of the money they used to get at DSO National Laboratory. But that does not bother them as they have already tasted the fun of following dreams.

Why Buying iPhone 5s at Rs 15999 in 2017 is a Good Deal

apple 5s iphone

E-commerce platform Amazon.in is selling iPhone 5S for ₹15,999, which is definitely a great opportunity for those who wants to experience iOS for the first time. But to be honest it is not an easy choice for Indian smartphone users because they can get an Android phone with great camera, vibrant high def screen, lag free performance and more importantly amazing battery life at that price or even less. Is iphone 5s worth buying in 2017? The answer is “Yes”.

 

Although it is a good deal, as a user you age going to make few compromises. The first compromise would be its battery which is only 1560mAH. The charge doesn’t even last for a day, and you might have to recharge your iPhone 5S multiple times in a day. The second compromise is its 4 inch screen which looks tiny. If you prefer decent size screen in your phone, you are going to dislike iPhone 5S. Its small screen size also ruins virtual reality experience. And finally iPhone 5S does not support VOLTE. (And not to forget it has only 1GB RAM.

 

Now let’s discuss what you are going to get in exchange of ₹15,999, apart from Apple brand and iOS experience.

 

  1. A fabulous aluminium built phone.
  2. Retina display.
  3. Touch ID (fingerprint sensor)
  4. Siri

 

The CPU handling capability of iPhone 5S is amazing. It runs pretty smooth even when you perform multitasking. Most of the apps are optimized to work with 5S. And as far as Apple’s update support is concerned hopefully it is going to give support and updates to 5S for next couple of years. iPhone 5S’s camera is pretty good (8 MP primary and 1.2 MP front facing camera). It is capable of recording HD videos.

iPhone 5S is not going to disappoint you if you are okay with few compromises.

Products from Amazon.in

Daydreaming – A Step Towards Greatness

daydreaming

Daydream is considered to be an addiction and sometimes even a mental disorder. But statistics says that almost 96% adults daydream and they spend a third to half of their lives daydreaming. The question is whether it can be called a disorder of any kind if it is that common? It depends. Like too much of anything is not good, excessive form of daydreaming can be bad. But let’s talk about general level of daydreaming. Is it good to daydream?

 

The father of “Mind Map” technique and famous author Tony Buzan believes daydream can be good or bad for you depending on the quality of your daydream. Daydreams can break you, or it can make you. Great geniuses did something different by daydreaming big. They used their daydream to have a great vision. And more importantly they mixed logic to their daydream.

 

When Your Day Dream Is a Bad Daydream?

If majority of your daydreams consists of fantasies and unrealistic stuffs then your daydream is going to take you nowhere. If your daydream is triggered by fantasy books, movies or music then you got to think about it on a serious  note and probably you need to control this habit of zoning out. Daydream is bad when you stop paying attention to real life things.

 

What is a Good Daydreaming?

Let’s assume your daydreaming habit is not excessive and it is not triggered by reading, watching or hearing fantasy stories, in this case you can use your daydream habit to achieve greatness. Thomas Edison daydreamed big, real big. He daydreamed to light the planet earth, not just to invent the electric bulb. Back then it was an unrealistic dream but Thomas Edison had a logic, a plan and he had the courage to make his daydream a real thing. Daydream like a genius. Always remember there is a next step after your daydream, and that is to work on it and make your daydream true.

 

Benefits of Daydreaming

There are scientifically proven benefits of daydreaming.

  1. Neurologists believe that daydreaming works as a mental training exercise
  2. Daydreaming lessens stress level significantly which controls high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
  3. Daydream helps the brain to process information.

 

Daydream gives your brain a break from stressful thoughts. There are 20 different networks work inside a human brain and these networks do not work simultaneously. They take turns. When one network takes the command others take the back seat. The network that is responsible for day dreaming is called default network. When nothing significant is going on inside your brain (when you do not have to think too much), your default network gets activated and you starts daydreaming. This can happen when you are driving or even listening to somebody uninteresting. This process gives your brain rest and decreases your stress level.
So daydreaming is good and it can be a step forward to help you reach your greatness. Next time somebody complains about your habit of zoning out, just ignore it!

LED Lights Can Harm Your Retina

visible light dangers

LED offers many advantages over CFL, Neon or Incandescent light bulbs in terms of efficiency and long lasting. LED saves money and it lessens the maintenance burden. We humans have obvious reasons to fall in love with this LED technology. LED technology has changed our lives in many ways, but as they say every good thing comes with a price tag. And the price we could pay is harmful health effects. Yes the “good guy” LED has a dark side too. At least that’s what researchers from AMA (American Medical Association) believe.

 

AMA researchers (actually they are doctors) mainly target LED street lights, although this equally applies to the LED lights we use in our homes. AMA researchers found that LED street lights have higher CT (Color Temperature) level which can cause toxic stress to the retinas. It can also negatively affect human psychology and behaviour.

 

So what exactly in a LED light that causes this kind of harm? It is the blue-light component in LEDs. Researchers discovered that anything over than 3000 Kelvin (K) can harm human health. And most of the street lights have 4000 K to 5000 K CT level. Higher CT level means whiter the light and greater “Blue”contents.


Sigh!… That is why I don’t like researchers. They always come up with something that spoils the fun anyways! But fortunately this time they have a solution. They suggest LED manufacturers to keep the CT level below 3000 K. In simple terms… deem the LED and make it cool.

Self Balancing Ostrich Inspired Robot Reaches New Heights

Plannar Elliptical Runner

There are many places where human presence is required but sometimes it is either too dangerous or very remote, for example a nuclear power plant or in a planetary exploration mission.In such cases robots come into use. Robotic scientists take inspirations from various sources to design robots that would overcome all those locomotion challenges a typical robot faces. And more than anything biomechanics has influenced scientists to design and develop robots with enhanced capabilities over traditional robots. Learning concepts from nature and applying them to the robotic design is not new, but this time a team of researchers at Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) have designed a robot which can be considered as a significant leap forward in the robotic design.

What special about this robot?

In order to function effectively robots use sensors to estimate condition and environment. But this ostrich-inspired two legged robot does not require any sensor or a computer to be able to balance itself while running at a speed of 12 mph. The team has named it “Plannar Elliptical Runner”. Full credit goes to its skillful mechanical design. Plannar Elliptical Runner is world’s first segmented leg biped robot that is capable of balancing itself without the help of any sensors or computers.

How much is it influenced by ostrich?

Ostrich uses its springy legs to run faster and longer. Its biological design makes it to save half of its energy while running faster and long distances. An ostrich can run at a speed of 40 to 45 mph. Plannar Elliptical Runner has greatly inspired by an ostrich’s biological mechanism. But it can run only at a speed of 12 mph. Well it is the size of it that making it slower. If Plannar Elliptical Runner were the size of an ostrich probably it would run at 35 mph. Which is amazing!

Dangerous Phishing Attack Targets Google Docs Users

phishing attack

A new and unique kind of phishing attack is spreading rapidly among Google Docs users. If you use Google Docs please make sure your google account is not infected already. If you suspect  it is infected, go to your Google Account Security Checkup. Check if your google account recovery information is correct and uptodate, and also check which devices are connected to your Google account. And finally look over the permissions you have allotted to various apps, devices and plugins. If you find something suspective in the list, remove it.

 

This sure is not going to rub out your misery if you are already affected by this highly developed Google Docs phishing attack, but at least it will assure you that you have terminated the permissions you had assigned to that malware and it will not be able to fetch more information from your contact list and browsers.  

 

How To Stay Safe From This Google Docs Phishing Attack:

If someone invites you to edit a file in Google Docs, don’t open it right away. Make sure this is something you had asked for.

 

What Makes This Phishing Attack Sophisticated And Dangerous:

A typical would take you to a bogus google page (that looks like a real google page). You can easily detect that it is a phishing attack from the URL (web address). But this phishing attack works within Google’s system with a third-party web app.


This phishing attack started few hours back and it is spreading like wildfire all over the world among Google Docs users. So if you get an email with a subject line like “….has shared a document on Google Docs with you” don’t open it. As I mentioned earlier this phishing attack take victims to a legitimate Google signin page, and it can even trick smart internet users.


Malware Alert for MacOS Users

macos malware

When it comes to malware macOS is as vulnerable as any other operating system. Lately the new macOS malware is hitting the headlines on account of its nasty method of taking over user’s PC. It all starts with a standard phishing attack.

The victim receives an email with a subject line that there is some issue with your tax return (or something equally intriguing). For more details it recommends user to download a .zip file that is attached with the email. When the user tries to open the .zip file a malware executable file (named AppStore) gets executed and it automatically gets downloaded in the background without user’s notice. Once the file is installed, the user sees a fake macOS update page which looks exactly same like a real macOS update page.The fake update page comes on top of every window, and stops the user from using his/her computer until he/ she hits update. Once the user hits the update it asks for the admin password, and when the user enters the password the real nasty stuff of the malware begins. It changes user’s web settings and all of the user’s web traffic gets routed through a third-party proxy server. Now the hacker can easily access the login information on every site, including user’s banking website and social networking website and everything.

The best defence against this malware is awareness. Do not open any email that looks suspective and ask you to download an attached file.