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On Windows 7 (or Vista) I use

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Moneybookers/Skrill Scam (2012/12/18 01:06)

This week we have finally decided to close our Moneybookers account. Fortunately, this operation seems to be successfully finished. Since now, they can no longer steal our money. Yes, to steal. Skrill (former Moneybookers) is a scam, a fraudulent company that does not hesitate to accept money sent to you and keep it for itself. For sure you can use Google and find number of people claiming that Moneybookers stole their money. So, here is just another story to support the claims against Moneybookers/Skrill.

Having a fully and several times verified business account we thought that our money were safe there. Since we did not use this service that much, there were just couple of bucks on the account – less than $200 – when we decided to withdraw. Having no prior notice from Moneybookers it was surprising that it was not possible. The account was locked. Without any notice and while fully unlocked for incoming payments. If you think about this ... Solely this fact on its own suggests a fraud. People can send you money to a locked account. Moneybookers willingly accepts money that they know you can not withdraw. And no notice was sent. Unethical and unprofessional at least.

And so having a locked account, not knowing why or from when, we tried to ask Moneybookers/Skrill to unlock it. For several months, we had been trying to contact the support and get information about why our account was locked and whether they could unlock it. Without any response. The only messages from Moneybookers/Skrill we received were about changing their terms. And so we were informed that they installed new fees. Having a business account was no longer free. New terms installed monthly fees. Our account was still locked down, it was not possible to withdraw the money.

Somehow, on 29th February 2012, we have received the first reply from the support. A short reply with the information that our account was blocked because we may have unwillingly violate their terms and conditions. And that was the last time we received a message from their support. Our further messages, asking for a solution, asking to unlock the account, or withdraw the balance have been without any reply. And every month they charged us a fee for using their service. Using? Just having an account we could not do anything with except for accept payments we could never reach. All money were sucked out the account through these monthly fees.

Is Moneybookers scam? Is Skrill scam? Yes, Moneybookers/Skrill is scam. It is that simple. Do you consider using this company for your business? Please do not. For your own good. And please do not send us any money through Moneybookers/Skrill. We do not have and will not have an account there. Never again.

Proactive Security Challenge vs. real malware (2010/11/01 09:00)

Proactive Security Challenge is a project devoted mostly to testing abilities of security software to protect against actions of malware. Currently, Proactive Security Challenge consists of 148 different tests. Sometimes we hear people arguing that the techniques used in our tests do not correspond with techniques used by the real malware. In order to find out how much Proactive Security Challenge reflects the real world of malware, we have performed the following research.

We have collected a set of 20 malware samples that were not detected by two popular anti-virus engines. This means that downloading these samples to the computer and executing them would be possible even with a fully updated anti-virus installed. Then we have run the samples and analyzed the techniques they used. The results are as follows.

  • The most used technique among the tested samples was direct Internet access, which is tested by Leaktest and Yalta tests, it was performed by 50 % of the malware samples.
  • The second most used technique was registering under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run. This has been seen in case of eight malware samples. In Proactive Security Challenge this technique is implemented by Autorun3 test.
  • Similar technique of using HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run registry key in order to persist in the system was used by five malware samples. In Proactive Security Challenge this is done by Autorun1 test.
  • Exploiting registry value PendingFileRenameOperations under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager is done by FileMov2 test and also by four of the samples. In this case, however, we have to admit that FileMov2 uses the technique for attacking purposes, which has been seen only once while the other three samples used it to remove their tracks.
  • Two malware samples changed the system HOSTS file. This technique is checked by our HostsBlock test.
  • Twice we have seen an attempt to load a kernel driver. Once it was using the technique of Kernel2 test and the other time Kernel1's technique was used.
  • Disabling security related system services also appeared twice. Svckill test simulates this behavior.
  • Jumper test replaces Internet Explorer's start page and so did two malware samples in our research.
  • In case of two malware samples we have seen the technique of replacing executable of a legitimate application with a malicious one. Similar idea is implemented in Runner and Runner2 tests.
  • The Shell value under the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon was exploited twice. Autorun7 uses this.
  • Similar technique to today's very popular DLL Hijacking was used by one malware. Its technique can be found in our Inject2 test.
  • One sample encoded various information about the infected system into a long DNS query which it then resolved. This is the technique of DNStester.
  • Misusing registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce, implemented by Autorun4 test in our project, has been seen in one case.
  • Another registry key that can be misused for system infection is HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\Run. This was done by one malware and it is also done by Autorun19.
  • The Load value under the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon can be used for persistent system infection, and was once. Autorun15 implements this technique.
  • One of the tested malware samples started system at command and scheduled new tasks in order to be executed regularly. Similar technique is used by our Wallbreaker4 test.
  • Configuring itself as a debugger for a known executable name under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options registry key is implemented by Autorun10 test and was used by one malware sample.
  • Another attacking technique was starting a trusted application and infecting it with a malicious code. This technique is implemented in DNStest and AWFT1 tests.
  • One sample executed script using wscript.exe. This idea can be found in VBStest.
  • Another malware sample installed so called global hook in order to inject its malicious DLL into other processes in the system. FireHole test works just like that.
  • AWFT3 and AWFT4 create new thread in Windows Explorer in order to execute malicious code under its rights. This technique appeared in case of one malware sample. A similar technique is done by Thermite test. In its version the target process is Internet Explorer, and this variant has also appeared once during this research.
  • Direct disk access technique was also implemented by one malware, in our suite this is the role of FileWri4 test.
  • Print Spooler's interface was misused by one malware. Kernel5b works on this idea.

As we can see behavior of real malware samples consists of many techniques that we test in Proactive Security Challenge. We are sure that if larger set of malware was used we would see even more techniques that are implemented in our tests. If a security product is able to block techniques of our tests, it can also block most of the real malware's behavior. It is clear that Proactive Security Challenge is not a useless theoretical concept, its techniques are used by real malware. Being able to fight these techniques makes sense. It should be mentioned, however, that not all the existing attacking techniques are implemented in Proactive Security Challenge tests, but we have tried to cover the most used techniques with our testing suite.

Confusion about Malware Defender (2010/03/22 13:30)

Since the last testing of Malware Defender, we have received quite a lot of emails suggesting that Malware Defender should not be recommended security product to use because it is a rogue security software. As an evidence the emails linked various web pages with details about Malware Defender 2009. If we read the above mentioned Wikipedia article about rogue security software carefully we can find out that the list of well known rogue security software contains the following entry: Malware Defender (not to be confused with the HIPS firewall of the same name).

Obviously, the rogue application called Malware Defender 2009 is not the Malware Defender by TorchSoft. Screenshots of both applications are available on the Internet (compare screenshots of TorchSoft's Malware Defender (not available anymore) with a screenshot of Malware Defender 2009). TorchSoft's Malware Defender that was tested in Proactive Security Challenge is a legitimate security software. The list of rogue security software on Wikipedia clearly shows that it is a common strategy of malware authors to name their products with similar names to legitimate software. We should not be confused about that and we should always be able to find out which application is legitimate and which is not. Our list of security products suitable for Proactive Security Challenge testing should always help you find the web site of the original and legitimate software.

Do not use GRC's LeakTest (2010/02/17 13:37)

During the last few weeks, we have received a couple of emails concerning the security of PC Tools Firewall Plus. Our visitors ask us, how is it possible that PC Tools Firewall Plus is rated highly in Proactive Security Challenge when it is not able to block the very simple GRC's LeakTest, a tiny testing program that was written many years ago. Regardless the configuration of PC Tools Firewall Plus, clicking Test For Leaks button in GRC's LeakTest leads to the big red Firewall Penetrated! alert.

Being that a repetitive question, we have decided to analyze the situation. We found out that GRC's LeakTest is just a poorly written program that suffers from reporting false results in some cases, especially in case of PC Tools Firewall Plus. Why is PC Tools Firewall Plus so special compared to others in a way it does not pass GRC's LeakTest even if the user uses the block button in PC Tools Firewall Plus's alert? In case of most products on the market, when the action of outbound connection is blocked, the product cuts the connection completely and report an error message to the offending application. For example if a web browser is blocked, it reports some kind of connection failure message to the user. PC Tools Firewall Plus, however, does not do it that way. Its developers implemented it in a way that might be considered as more polite to the end user. If the connection is blocked on the machine via PC Tools Firewall Plus, it seems to the application as if the connection was successful and then any attempt to read the data from the server leads to reception of an informative message that explains that the connection was blocked by PC Tools Firewall Plus and also explains what to do to allow the blocked application to connect in case it was not the real user's intention to block it. So, if the user accidentally blocked the legitimate browser application, they will see the informative message and will have no problem to fix the situation. This may be considered as a better approach compared to the situation when the default error message is shown to the user, which is also displayed in case of many other error situations including the target server failure, network failure etc.

The problem with GRC's LeakTest is that it does not verify that it connected to the target server. No proper verification is done and since it is able to read some data it suppose the firewall was penetrated while in fact it is just a message from PC Tools Firewall Plus.

Testing programs are important tools for developers, testers and users, but they should never be blindly trusted. Unlike GRC's LeakTest, our tests in Security Software Testing Suite are designed to always verify and provide proves of the reported results if possible and even then our testers never blindly rely on the test's output.

New versions of ZoneAlarm and PC Tools (2009/09/02 14:12)

PC Tools Firewall Plus 6 has been released. The new version should come with Windows 7 support and significant improvements of application protection module. We will test the new version in our next Proactive Security Challenge update.

Also new versions of ZoneAlarm products have been released recently. The 2010 series newly supports Windows 7. In our security testing project, we will replace ZoneAlarm Pro with ZoneAlarm Extreme Security to get the best ZoneAlarm products can offer. The new version will be tested soon.

Privatefirewall goes free! (2009/07/30 18:36)

A great news for all fans of Privatefirewall has been announced by its vendor PWI, Inc. Since Privatefirewall (the latest version at the time of this announcement), the whole product is free of charge, without any limitations. Also, the new version is ready for Windows 7. Other related products of PWI, Inc. including DSA (free product with only a part of the functionality provided by Privatefirewall) have been discontinued.

Outpost 6.7 (2009/07/23 13:08)

Agnitum Ltd. released new versions of their Outpost products. Even if this is not a major release, 6.7 series might be interesting for many because of its support of Microsoft's new operating system Windows 7, which final version should be available in autumn this year. Another interesting improvement in new Outpost is that the content filtering is now fully compatible with P2P clients and rich-media websites.

KIS 2010 (2009/06/25 09:54)

Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 is out. It comes with several new functions and various improvements. Among the noticeable new features, we can mention the Safe Run mode which enables the users to run new software in an isolated environment so that it can not harm the operating system or other applications. Another new features are the Game Mode – reducing alerts during playing games, and Kaspersky Toolbar for Internet browsers that warns about known dangerous websites. Read more in the official press release on Kaspersky Lab's website. We will schedule the testing of KIS 2010 as soon as possible.

Outpost Firewall Free 2009 (2009/04/27 12:47)

Very popular Outpost Firewall is now also available in a lightweight version called Outpost Firewall Free. The previous free version of Outpost Firewall was released in 2002 and its protection was outdated for several years. The new free version is based on the engine of the commercial version with some features removed. Outpost Firewall Free offers Firewall, Proactive host protection and Self protection features as the Pro version but it misses Anti-Spyware, Web control, Identity Protection features and Multi-language support. This product may quickly become a great alternative for the users that require free solutions.

Comodo Internet Security (2008/10/28 11:31)

A few days ago, Comodo Security Solutions, Inc. released new security products called Comodo Internet Security and Comodo Internet Security Pro. These are security suites that combine classic firewall, personal firewall and anti-virus features. Comodo Internet Security is completely free while Comodo Internet Security Pro includes paid services. For more information, visit the vendor's website.