This week’s security roundup includes a warning against those looking to bypass the end of support for Windows XP and multiple ransomware threats.
Microsoft has cautioned users still running the now defunct Windows XP operating system that a registry workaround that causes the OS to continue receiving security updates could cause big problems.
The hack makes XP think it is the Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 iterations of Microsoft’s software, meaning that updates for those operating systems are delivered to the computer.
“Windows XP customers run a significant risk of functionality issues with their machines if they install these updates, as they are not tested against Windows XP,” the firm told ZDNet.
Meanwhile, security firm Bromium has published a report warning of new ‘ransomware’.
'CryptoDefense' encrypts files on victims’ machines before holding their machine to ransom and instructing them to visit a website – opening them up to further attacks – in order to recover their files. Bromium warned that it was ‘likely’ that more victims could be targeted.
Ransomware was also responsible for multiple Apple iOS devices in Australia being held hostage, with the hackers demanding payment from the unlucky owners in order to unlock the breached hardware.
VP of security research at Zscaler, Michael Sutton, said: “It is likely that a third party database was compromised and authentication credentials stolen that are the same credentials used by the owners of the affected iOS devices."
Fraud detector firm Telemetry has said that over a third (36 per cent) of online advert traffic is now fraudulent, despite digital advertising continuing to grow – with total spend expecting to hit $50 billion in the US alone this year.
The fake viewers of the ads push viewing numbers up, boosting the revenue paid by advertisers to those running the dodgy sites.
Meanwhile, the highly anticipated video game Watch Dogs, which centres on a hacker protagonist, finally launched this week. The developers of the game consulted with security firm Kaspersky Lab to authenticate the cyber-heavy script, ensuring that the game was as close to the reality of cyber-crime as possible.
Vitaly Kamluk, principal security researcher with Kaspersky Lab’s global research and analysis team, commented: “Although some of the hacks are very similar to those occurring in the real world, it is still just a simulation – thankfully.”
“It's crucial to understand that Watch Dogs doesn't teach you how to hack. What it can do is show you just how powerful a hacking tool can be.”
Back in the real world, Bitdefender has warned that hundreds of computers have been infected with a new instant messaging Trojan, which poses as a human in order to send itself to new targets.
“After gaining access to users’ contact lists, Gen:Variant.Downloader.167 distributes itself through Facebook’s instant messaging and Yahoo Messenger from one friend to another,” explained Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at Bitdefender.
“Besides being wonderfully polite, the Trojan also uses biblical verses as decryption keys for its data.”