Cyber Ghouls Plague Halloween


On Halloween, IT security companies are warning businesses to keep an eye on their data to avoid zombies

We’ve had to scrape the barrel for Halloween-themed IT stories this year. By the end of October, the eWEEK Europe inboxes are usually brimming with ghoulish tales of dastardly data breaches and zombified PCs, but this year’s seem a little lacklustre.

Nevertheless, we have gathered some spooky advice from the IT pros:

Camp Creatures

Wikimedia: Zombies in a bar
Thirsty Zombies: Pic by Jeremy Keith on Wikimedia

Cameron Camp, malware researcher at ESET, has written a blog post warning that Halloween may be seen by scammers as an opportunity to push out malware, through phishing scams and fake Facebook notifications asking you to visit or comment on Halloween-related material.

“A scammer might ask you to join a ‘Wal-Mart half-off for Halloween promotional group’ or some variation. When you click on the link, you’re spirited away to a fake site which harvests your username/password, and now the scammers have access to your account,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, NetFort is warning businesses that they need to be wary of “network zombies”, as Advanced Persistent Threats and the consumerisation of IT are opening networks up to more threats than ever before. Smartphones such as iPhones are particularly vulnerable, as they are easily transformed into smart Zombies, which then turn on the business network.

Darragh Delaney, director of technical services at NetFort, suggests looking at the traffic going to and from the internal interface of the firewall, as this is the point on the network where businesses can see the actual source of potential problems.

Avecto also warns that, with social events such as Halloween and Bonfire Night on the horizon, staff are getting a variety of fun attachments into their mailboxes, prompting them to click through onto something that they would normally avoid. This has resulted in a surge in malware in recent weeks.

As a result, October has been designated National Cyber Security Awareness month in the US, and UK private and public sector organisations hosted the National Identity Fraud Prevention Week earlier this month.

Kroll Ontrack is running a ‘Data Nightmares‘ competition this week, giving participants the chance to win a free data recovery product, worth up to £500. Anyone can enter the competition by following @DrDataRecovery on Twitter and retweeting about the competition – using the hashtag #DataNightmares.

At the same time, they have warned about a number of common data nightmares, ranging from ‘cowboy’ recovery attempts to forgetting encryption passwords. The company advises looking after sensitive data carefully, running back-ups and finding a balance between security and easy recovery.

Finally, a county in Ohio county is preparing for a zombie outbreak on Halloween. More than 225 volunteers in Delaware County signed up to dress as zombies today in a drill for officials who would deal with real-life situations involving hazardous materials and disaster response.

The exercise was inspired by a tongue-in-cheek blog posting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that urged people to be prepared for a “zombie apocalypse.”

OK, that’s not really a tech story, but like I said – we were scraping the barrel.