How to Spot a Fake App

How to Spot a Fake App

watch-out-for-fake-android-apps

We all need to be careful as the next app we download could be a dangerous Trojan. Below I will explain how to spot fake or malicious apps for your phone or tablet.

Android malware is on the rise. Kasperkys (in partnership with Interpol) latest Mobile Cyber Threats Survey found there were six times the amount of malicious apps in July 2014 than in August 2013.

You can see the attraction of targeting Android devices from a hacker’s point of view. Your Android devices contains things like your personal details, logins and passwords, private notes, messages and of cause your photos, it could even be linked to your bank account or credit card too.

Hackers simply have to create a Trojan and disguise it as something you might want and they can then get their hands on all that valuable data. Facebook fakes, video apps and too-good-to-be-true antivirus apps are circulating in there thousands right now, just waiting for you to download and install them.

Hackers, like all conmen, give themselves away by making simple mistakes.

Its ‘Facebook’ but not as you know it

Genuine social apps never ask for 'device administrator' permissions

Genuine social apps never ask for ‘device administrator’ permissions

Mobile malware makers love Facebook. According to Cheetah Mobile the makers of Clean Master, no fewer than 15,000 fake social networking and messaging Android apps have appeared between January and August 2014, More than half of these were dodgy Facebook clones. Thousands more are pretending to be WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram.

Hackers use the apps to steal your username and password, which they assume you are probably going to use the same details on other accounts to.

Malicious clones often have really poor spelling and badly reproduced branding, but you might not always notice this until its to late and you have downloaded the app and entered your password and username. By that time its to late as the app has done its job.

There are a few ways to check and see if a big-name app is the real thing before downloading it. First, see how many people have downloaded if from the Google Play Store. At the time of writing this the real Facebook app for Android has been downloaded almost 23 million times. If you are looking at a ‘Facebook’ app that has only been downloaded 200 times or only has a few “user” reviews its not the real deal.

You need to be wary of believing everything you read in the Play Store reviews. It’s very easy for app developers to buy fake reviews and ratings from feed back touts like App Reviews Mart, and get 5 star reviews from BestReviewApp. If in doubt its always best to click on the reviews name and see what else they have reviewed. If all there reviews are worded exactly the same or sound suspiciously generic (“Great App, Just what I needed”), take them with a large pinch of salt. You can report apps, reviews or comments that you think are suspicious to Google.

Lots of generic, short reviews may be a sign of a fake app

Lots of generic, short reviews may be a sign of a fake app

It’s not in the Google Play Store

If you are not sure that the brilliantly reviewed, but badly spelled app is legitimate, bookmark the Play Store page and then come back to it a few days latter. Fake apps don’t last long in the Play Store. Those that are not blocked instantly by Google’s app-scanning tool, Bouncer are usually removed within a few days according to F-Secure latest Mobile Threat Report.

Google can’t police the entire Internet; so bogus apps always find other ways to get distributed, like Facebook comments, emails, online adverts or an independent Android app website like AppBrain. All the fake apps identified by Cheetah, were downloaded from outside they Play Store.

Never download apps via adverts or links in Facebook Comments

Never download apps via adverts or links in Facebook Comments

Independent Android sites are not always dangerous, but please bare in mind they don’t scan the apps as thoroughly as Google. Earlier this year security firm Opswat found a third of all Android apps outside the Plat Store were infected with malware.

Similarly, if you are using an iPad you should only download apps from the App Store and iTunes (not that you get much choice). The tightly controlled nature of iOS tends to prohibit third party app markets and this helps keep hackers at bay, which I think is a good thing.

It’s too Good to be True

Hackers know that we can all be slaves to our desires, so if they promise to give you exactly what you want, you are less likely to trust your better instincts.

In June of last year, Ransomeware on Android arrived in the shape of Simlocker Trojan; it was packaged as a porn-video app. Not long after that, hacker’s striked again this time exploiting political fervor by spreading spyware among Hong Kong protesters, who thought they were downloading a pro-democracy app.

The Angry Birds Transformers app contained a "vandal' Trojan that destroyed data

The Angry Birds Transformers app contained a “vandal’ Trojan that destroyed data

You also need to be on the lookout for apparent collaborations, because in September last year, there was a new Angry Birds app called Angry Birds Transformers in the Google Play Store, which turned out to contain the Elite Trojan. Security researchers at Dr Web discovered the Trojan in October Last year and they categorized the Trojan as a “Vandal Program” as it destroys the victim’s data. When you launched the app for the 1st time it would ask for ‘device administrator’ permissions (These are normally only needed by apps that let you lock or wipe your phone remotely) and then immediately format your SD card if you have one installed, and block all of your messaging apps.

If an app ever says it can remove all of the manufactured pre-installed software with out you having to root you device or reveal who is looking at your Facebook profile, its lying!!

 

You Have Never Heard of it

New apps from companies you have never heard of that promise the earth are very unlikely to be what they seam. According to Kaspersky, fake antivirus apps are a big problem.

April Last Year, an antivirus app, called Virus Shield by the developer Deviant Solutions managed to sneak through Google’s app scanner and it was downloaded 30,000 times, and cost £2.38 the app its self was not malicious but it was totally useless (expect to its developer who became quite rich from it). When the scam was found Google was forced to refund all of the 30,000 customers who had purchased it.

Don’t be tempted by ‘novel’ antivirus apps. Most of the big antivirus companies out there make safe reliable tools to help protect your devices from malware and fake apps; they are also regularly updated to help keep your devices safe from the latest treats.

So be aware of the apps you are downloading are what they say they are. Stay safe and keep alert for the scammers, all they want is your money and to cause as much trouble as they can!!!!

Are Scam Downloads Getting Harder to Spot?

Are Scam Downloads Getting Harder to Spot?

Scam Alert

Malwarebytes have revealed the latest strategy’s that are being used by scammers, which has worryingly shown that the scams are getting harder to stop.

You might have decided you need a new antivirus program from a trustworthy company like AVG, Malwarebytes, Norton or McAfee. It downloads without any problems, you accept the terms and conditions and the familiar installer starts, all seems to be going fine until half way through the installation when you get an error message that advises you to ring a phone number. You could easily think this is the antivirus helpline.

But you would be wrong! In fact this is the latest trick used by scammers to steal your money. The software is fake and if you call the number in the error message, you will get through to an Indian call center where they will tell you your computer is crawling with viruses and that they will clean if for a fee. Of course this is a lie.

This type of scam is easy to fall for, but what is worse is that fraudsters are starting to hack genuine security programs so that you pay them instead of the software company. Malwarebytes have detected criminals doing this. Senior security researcher Jerome segura, said: “A few weeks ago we documented a US-based company using our software against our Terms and Conditions. They were charging four times the price and worst of all the license keys were all pirated.”

Its not difficult for criminals to build fake programs that mimic legal ones. Egemen Tas, Comodo’s Vice President of Engineering said that Scammers don’t need to create a fake antivirus from scratch, instead they can “simply take a genuine AV product, modify it and distribute it”.

So how can you protect yourself? You should only download programs from the developers’ official site, or from a reputable site like CNet, TechSpot, or FileHippo. You also need to be cautious when using the Windows Store on Windows 8, as it was recently reported by technology site How to Geek as being filled with fake software.

Malwarebytes, which highlighted these scams on its blog, says that a fake version of genuine software will be flagged by Windows before you download it with the following message: ‘The publisher could not be verified’ or ‘driver have been altered’. These warnings mean the download has not been digitally signed by the programs developer, most reputable software should all be signed. You should click Cancel, not Run, and leave the box ‘Always ask before opening this file’’ ticked.

So despite the increasing deviousness of the scammers you can still shield yourself from their attack, Thankfully, it’s not impossible to spot them, but its definitely getting harder. So stay alert and above all keep safe from these scammers!!!!!

Sky Broadband is going to block porn by default

Sky Broadband is going to block porn by default

Blocked

5.3 million Sky Broadband customers are going to have their access to porn sites blocked by default. To access porn online Sky customers will need to turn off Sky’s Broadband Shield filter.

Sky like all other of the major broadband providers have been offering their customers an adult content filter as an option for the last year.

As well as blocking porn, the filter’s default age rating of 13 will now prevent access to sites concerned with dating, file-sharing, violence, drugs, suicide and self-harm.

Sky customers can now set the Broadband shield age filter to PG, 13, 18 or block only certain types of websites.

“What we are doing now is simply making sure that the automatic position of Sky Broadband Shield is the safest one for all – that’s ‘on’ – unless our customers choose otherwise” said Sky’s Lyssa McGowan in a blog post.

Sky Customers will now be e-mailed over the next few months asking them if they want to switch on the broadband filters. If they fail to respond, Sky will then automatically switch the filters on.

“Once Sky Broadband Shield is active, users will not be able to access any filtered sites unless they choose to login and change the setting to the Shield,” McGowan explained.

“However they can still browse away from the filtering page to visit any sites they wish suitable for a 13 year old without any interruptions”

Sky has said its customers can choose to switch off the filters at any time they wish and they wont be pestered after that.

Do you approve of Sky blocking porn sites by defaults? Please leave your comments below.

Fix Your PC With a USB Stick

Fix Your PC With a USB Stick

PC Help

Do your family and friends always turn to you when their computers go wrong? Below I will tell you how you can fix a PC with a few good portable programs on a USB Stick.

If you are having problems with your computer you will properly turn to a trusted suite of programs, like CCleaner or CPU-Z ,and your antivirus software. But what do you do if the problem is on a friends PC or a laptop with precious little RAM? Easy, Just run your trusted suite of programs from a USB stick. CCleaner is a well-established Desktop program that can also be run from a storage device like a USB stick. Simply plug in your USB stick in to any computer and double-click on the program’s EXE (.exe) file to run the program.
That way there is nothing to install, and now junk will be left behind. Skype, LibreOffice and Firefox all have a portable version, but it’s the PC-fixing tools I am most excited about. While running Skype from a USB can be handy, running CCleaner from a USB could bring a friends PC back to life.

Find and kill viruses

The first step in troubleshooting a computer is to check for viruses and malware. McAfee Stinger is a free portable (standalone) antivirus from the same people that make McAfee Internet Security. Stinger’s tabbed window contains as many tools as you would find on any dedicated antivirus suite. You can scan a specific file or folder like the Registry or even the USB stick it’s located on. If Stinger does find any dubious files, you can kill them or quarantine them just like the full version of McAfee.

Panda Cloud Cleaner Portable (click the second blue Download button) will also let you specify directories to scan and clean. It’s not as powerful as Stinger but it will verifie the results in the clould to help avoid false positives. Trend Micro’s Portable bug identifier HijackThis will look for any unauthorized settings or modifications, as they can be evidence of malware, and log them in a report. It can also scan for data, like metadata that is embedded in files, and not visible in Windows Explorer, this can often get missed by other malware scanners.

Just keep in mind that sometimes-portable programs can be flagged as malware by some antivirus suites. The irony is that portable programs are often more secure as you can run them with out having to connect to the Internet or installing files hackers could exploit.

Diagnose the problem

cpu-z-01-557x535After you have ruled out viruses or malware, you can use CPU-Z portable to get real-time information about any computer its run on, like temperature to the status of any drivers (click Tools, then “Check for Driver Updates’), you can save the report as a text file (simply click ‘Save Report as .TXT from the tools menu) or print it if you need to go shopping for new parts. You could even give a copy to the owners of the PC for their own reference.

When you are on the CPU-Z download page, make sure you only click on the purple “Download Now!’ button as everything else is an advert. Once downloaded, extract the Zip then double click on the 32but or 64bit EXE (depending on the system you are running it on) to run the program.
The portable version of Speccy will generate a less comprehensive but easier to follow report then CPU-Z, and the latest version will now let you see the computers MAC Address.

The new USB auto-installer version of Memtest86+ is a tiny program that can check PC’s RAM. It’s extremely easy to run but it’s a little more complicated to set up than Speccy or CPU-Z. The EXE file is actually the installer, and it will only install the program on a USB stick. You will want to make sure you have a USB stick plugged in before you double-click on the EXE file, when the installer runs you will want to ‘Select your USB Flash Drive’, then click on Create to install Memtest on the USB stick.

Remove hidden junk

CCleanerA hard drive clogged with software is one of the most common causes of PC performance problems. So you will want to completely remove stubborn programs and make sure there are no left overs and the prortable version of CCleaner will help. When you first run CCleaner it will offer to scan ‘intelligtly’ for cookies that you want to keep (this is a good thing if you want to clear out the cashes and other browser related junk but keep your logins.)

If you find you ever accidently delete any important files when clearing out junk or accidently deleted a load of family photos the Recuva is the program you need. Its especially useful for recovering files from a computer that won’t let you install software on its hard drive.

Make your Mac go faster

Make your Mac go faster

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There are a lot of things that you can do to help boost the performance of your Mac. Below I have listed the ones that will have the biggest impact.

More Ram

The more RAM you have, the better. The main reason Macs tend to run slowly is because apps and processes consume a lot of RAM. RAM can be very expensive and adding it after you have bought a Mac is becoming almost impossible now as most new Macs have the ram soldered to the motherboard. So what is the next best option? Try and minimize how much you use. Don’t keep lots of apps running in the background if you are not using them, close all Safari tabs. Use Activity Monitor to identify apps that are hogging a lot of your RAM and then quit them

Hard drive space

You will also find the more storage space you have on your boot drive, the better OS X will run. This is because OS X sometimes uses the boot drive as a cache if it needs more room than is available in RAM. I would always recommend that you keep at least 10% of your HD free for OS X to use. If you Open a Finder Window and then select ‘Show status bar’ from the View Menu so you can see how much is available. Try and archive any documents you don’t need regular access to, and you should also consider using an external HD or even a NAS drive for your iTunes Library. Always empty your Downloads folder, and use an app like Gemini to help identify and delete duplicate files.

Desktop clutter

Files on your Desktop will slow down your Mac too. OS X draws a new window (complete with its own Preview) for every file on your Desktop; this can hog system resources if you keep lots of files on your Desktop. File them, Trash them, or put them in a folder.

Spotlight and Time Machine

Spotlight and Time Machine are both very good features, but they can sometimes cause performance issues, especially if you are using a network drive to back up or let Spotlight index an external drive. To stop Spotlight from indexing your external drive, go to the Spotlight panel in System Preferences, then click on the Privacy tab, then you want to drag the drive in to the windows or press the ‘+’ and then select the drive you wish to stop being indexed. If you find Time Machine is slowing down your system, you can always pause the back up till you are finished what you are doing. If you find it is a regular occurrence, you might want to think about using a USB external drive as your back up as this tends to be much faster.

Shut down/delete unused apps

Any apps you have running in the background will be using some of your systems resources, most apps will launch quickly, so there is no real reason to keep them open if you are not using them. You can quit them by either right –clicking on there icon in the dock and then click quit or by pressing the ⌘+Tab to bring up the app switcher, keep pressing the Tab key till you are on the app you want to quit then press ⌘+ Q. Unused apps will tie up disk space so its always best to get rid of them. To make use everything is completely removed you want to use something like AppZapper.

Restart you Mac regularly

Many of us, only ever restart our Macs if we have a problem. It’s always easier to close the lid and let your Mac Book Pro/Air sleep then boot it up. Restarting your Mac will help clear out its cache and will re-initialize hardware, so rebooting regularly can also have performance benefits. Modern Macs, especially those with an SSD installed, can boot almost as fast as they can from Sleep, If you Mac is running slow try and restart it and see if that helps. If you have to leave your Mac on it would recommend restarting it once every few days.

Turn off visual effects

If you have an old Mac, you might want to consider turning off the animations as they can have an effect on your systems performance, Go to System Preferences, then Dock, or choose Dock from the Apple menu if you are not on Yosemite. Uncheck the boxes marked ‘magnification’, ‘Animate opening applications’ and ‘ Automatically hide and show the Dock’. Click on the ‘Minimize windows’ menu and choose ‘Scale effect’.

Empty Safari Tab/clear cache

If you have a look at the Activity Monitor’s RAM tab you will probably see that the most intensive processes are the Safari Tabs. The more you have open, the bigger the performance hit will be. Close all the ones you are not using, try bookmarking the ones you might need again. Open Preferences from the Safari menu, if you are using a pre-Yosemite version of OS X, click Reset Safari in the safari menu, and choose Remove all Website Data, then Reset. In Yosemite, choose ‘Clear History and Website Data’ from the Safari menu and pick an option from the drop-down menu.

Reduce Log in Items and Restart

Log in items are those apps and processes that automatically start when you restart or log in to your account. They are often related to software you no longer need or use. Go to System Preferences, then Users & Groups, then Login items. You will want to click on the padlock at the bottom of the screen so you can make changes. Click on the first login item you no long need and then click on the ‘-‘ at the bottom of the window. Repeat this for all the other login items you don’t want to load at start up then restart.

Keep software up to date

Out-of-date software can sometimes cause performance problems. If the app was not downloaded through the App Sore, click on the application menu and then select ‘Check for Updates’ and download any if available. Now go to the App Store and click on updates and download them if any are available.