PC users: beware of CryptoLocker malware!


‘Ransomware’ attached to email purporting to come from Royal Mail will permanently encrypt all files on your PC,

cryptolocker
CryptoLocker will encrypt files with a public key that is widely seen as unbreakable,

PC users are being warned to be on their guard against emails purporting to be from the Royal Mail and containing CryptoLocker, a malicious piece of software that locks computers with an unbreakable encryption.

The email states that a lost or missing package is waiting for you at your local sorting office and asks recipients to download an attachment to find out more. Those who do immediately start to install the CryptoLocker malware on to their computer, without realising what they have done.

CryptoLocker will encrypt all the data on the computer, including photos, music and personal documents, using a public key.

A message will then appear on the screen stating that all of the data is locked and can only be unlocked with a private key, which the scammers promise to hand over once the computer owner has sent them a payment.

The fraudulent Royal Mail email was discovered when a victim contacted the Action Fraud call centre. It is the second piece of malware hidden in a fake Royal Mail email that has come to light in recent months.

As a result of the scams, Royal Mail has issued advice warning members of the public that it will never include attachments in an unsolicited email, and stating that it does not email its customers asking for any personal information. It has also notified the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

“We encourage any customer who receives a suspicious email claiming to be from Royal Mail to contact our customer services department on 08457 740 740,” a spokesperson said, adding that the company follows “robust security procedures” to protect its customers.

Anyone wishing to book a redelivery of a Royal Mail parcel can do so online at the Royal Mail website.

Scammers using CryptoLocker typically ask for ransoms of either $300 or €300, which must be sent through an anonymous pre-paid cash voucher such as MoneyPak or Ukash or the equivalent amount in Bitcoins.

If the extortionists do not receive the payment within 72 to 100 hours, victims are warned the private key will be destroyed and nobody will ever be able to recover their data.

The encryption uses publicly available, well-established algorithms developed by governments and other legitimate bodies that means it is widely seen as unbreakable. When Guardian Money warned readers about CryptoLocker ransomware in October, a spokesperson for security firm Sophos told us that “if you haven’t got back up and you get hit by CryptoLocker, you may as well have dropped your PC over the side of the bridge”.

Since then, it is estimated that more than 250,000 PCs have been infected and the UK’s National Crime Agency has warned 10 million UK-based email users are being targeted.

Only PCs running Windows can be infected but the CryptoLocker malware can be hidden in any executable attachment or sneak on to your computer via a driveby download from a disreputable or infected website.

click here   10 ways to beat CryptoLocker

Posted By Mantosh Pal

10 ways to beat CryptoLocker


Protecting your files from CyptoLocker and other malware starts with a few sensible precautions,

Heavy chain with a padlock around a laptop
What can you do to prevent cybercriminals locking all your personal files and demanding    money to free them,

A few sensible precautions will help minimise the chances of a CrytoLocker attack. So what are our top tips?

Back up your files. If you use an external hard drive, don’t leave it connected to your PC unless you are backing up. Alternatively, pay for an online back-up service – but bear in mind you may still be vulnerable if your backed-up files are mapped as a network drive. Check with your provider if you are unsure.

Create files in the Cloud and upload photos to online accounts like Flickr or Picasa.

Switch to a spam- and virus-filtered email service. Google Mail, for example, does not allow you to receive or send executable files (that can install viruses) as email attachments, even if they are hidden in zip files. (It also does not allow you to send them).

Don’t go to online porn sites, which are often the source of malware downloads. Take care when clicking on adverts; never open Twitter links and attachments from people you don’t know or trust.

Make sure your operating system is up-to-date with the latest security.

Install the latest versions of your internet browsers and update add-ons such as Java and Adobe Flash.

 • Get reputable anti-virus software and ensure you update it frequently.

On Windows 7, double-check that you have set up System Restore points or, if you are using Windows 8, configure it to keep the “file history”.

Act quickly. If you do accidentally download a dodgy attachment, bear in mind it is likely to take some time for the encryption to take place. If you immediately download and run an anti-virus programme, such as the free anti-virus toolkit available from Sophos, it could destroy the CryptoLocker before all your files have been encrypted – however, you will permanently lose affected files.

Encrypt the files you particularly want to keep private, such as documents containing your passwords or personal information, to prevent criminals from reading what’s in them.

Posted By Mantosh Pal

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: ‘WhatsApp worth more than $19bn’ – video


Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says WhatsApp, which he bought last week, was worth more than the $19bn (£11.4bn) he paid for it. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, he says the instant messaging service already connects 1 billion people around the world

Posted By Mantosh Pal

Apple India offers up to Rs. 40,000 buy back discount on purchase of new laptops


apple_mac_macbook_air_websiteApple is offering up to Rs. 40,000 buy back discount on purchase of a new Mac laptop in India, if you turn in your old Mac laptop for exchange.

As per an advertisement in a leading daily, Apple is offering a discount of up to Rs. 40,000 if you give a Mac laptop that is less than two years old in exchange. The company will offer up to Rs. 30,000 for turning in Apple portables that are between two and three years old, while the discount on offer for exchanging Mac laptops that are between three and four years old is Rs. 25,000. If you have a Mac laptop that is more than four years old, you’re out of luck, since there is no discount on offer under the present scheme.

The advertisement notes that the final offer value is at the sole discretion of the reseller, a standard practice with these buy back schemes. Apple adds that this is “limited period” offer, but does not mention an end date.

The discounts are being offered on purchase of Mac laptops only. In other words, you can turn in your old Mac laptop to get discounts on a new one – there’s nothing to interest present or prospective owners of Mac mini, iMac or Mac Pro computers.

Interestingly, the advertisement adds that the offer is also available on laptops of other brands as well – customers are advised to check in-store for more details. Though Apple does not mention it specifically, we expect the discounts on offers on Windows laptops of a similar age to be significantly lower. If you have a Windows laptop and are looking to switch to the Mac, you may want to see if your local Apple reseller has a good buy back offer that interests you.

Posted By Mantosh Pal

 

Google, ASI start virtual tour of 30 Indian monuments!


(This is the trekker Google used to photograph Taj Mahal)
(This is the trekker Google used to photograph Taj Mahal)

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Google on Thursday announced availability of virtual tours for 30 Indian monuments. They said that from today web users across the world will be able to explore monuments like Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Agra Fort on Google Maps and the Google Cultural Institute in 360-degree view in their internet browser.

The 30 monuments are part of a total 100 monuments that Google would photograph and map in India. The project was launched last year.

“Today, this partnership with Google makes it possible for billions of people across the world to see and explore our magnificent heritage, to take a walk at the Rock Cut Jain Temple, to marvel at the Nagarjuna Konda Buddhist Stupas and to relive history in Fatehpur Sikri. With the release of these new panoramic images, we aim to create a dynamic, immersive online experience by which people within India and around the world can understand and engage more of India’s diverse cultural heritage,” said union minister of culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch.

Rajan Anandan, vice president and managing director, Google India, added, “We hope the imagery will help make India’s heritage and culture more accessible to people at home and abroad

To photograph the monuments, Google has used its “trekker” technology. The trekker is a machine that a volunteer or a Google employee can wear like a backpack. It has cameras that take photos while the user is walking around the monument. These photos are later stitched together to create a panoramic view of the monument.

A Google official told TOI that the company hopes to complete photography and mapping at the remaining monuments in another two months.

 

Posted By Mantosh Pal

Facebook buys WhatsApp: CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains why?


Facebook buys WhatsApp: CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains why
Facebook, on Thursday, agreed to buy mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion, making it the company’s largest acquisition. As per the terms and conditions of the deal, all 55 employees of WhatsApp including its founders will be granted restricted stock worth $3 billion that will vest over four years after the deal closes.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his Wall, explaining why he bought WhatsApp.
The text of the letter is given below:I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire WhatsApp and that their entire team will be joining us at Facebook.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. We do this by building services that help people share any type of content with any group of people they want. WhatsApp will help us do this by continuing to develop a service that people around the world love to use every day.

WhatsApp is a simple, fast and reliable mobile messaging service that is used by over 450 million people on every major mobile platform. More than 1 million people sign up for WhatsApp every day and it is on its way to connecting one billion people. More and more people rely on WhatsApp to communicate with all of their contacts every day.

WhatsApp will continue to operate independently within Facebook. The product roadmap will remain unchanged and the team is going to stay in Mountain View. Over the next few years, we’re going to work hard to help WhatsApp grow and connect the whole world. We also expect that WhatsApp will add to our efforts forInternet.org, our partnership to make basic internet services affordable for everyone.

WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community. Facebook Messenger is widely used for chatting with your Facebook friends, and WhatsApp for communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people. Since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone.

WhatsApp had every option in the world, so I’m thrilled that they chose to work with us. I’m looking forward to what Facebook and WhatsApp can do together, and to developing great new mobile services that give people even more options for connecting.

I’ve also known Jan for a long time, and I know that we both share the vision of making the world more open and connected. I’m particularly happy that Jan has agreed to join the Facebook board and partner with me to shape Facebook’s future as well as WhatsApp’s.

Jan and the WhatsApp team have done some amazing work to connect almost half a billion people. I can’t wait for them to join Facebook and help us connect the rest of the world.

Posted By Mantosh Pal

Opinion: Facebook panicked, bought WhatsApp!


Facebook is big. It has over 1 billion users. Almost everyone who is on the web has a Facebook account. Almost everyone who has a smartphone has the Facebook app installed.

Opinion: Facebook panicked, bought WhatsApp

But the success of Facebook in future is far from certain. The whole technology industry, the way we communicate through our gadgets, is undergoing a big change. And Facebook has not been exactly at the forefront of the change. When iPhones and Androids started reaching hands of consumers, Facebook was slow to grasp the trend. It treated the mobile part as afterthought and missed the chance to take a lead.

Facebook realized its mistake around two years ago and since then is putting mobile first. But, by that time it was already a little late. It faced several big challenges. The two biggest were Instagram and WhatsApp.

Now, Facebook has bought both.

Facebook probably paid too much for both. It is a big company with lots of resources and it could have probably built similar services in less money. But it is possible that it panicked. Though it had reasons to panic.

Almost every Facebook user utilizes the platform for sharing photos. But when Instagram debuted on iPhone, it found favour among web users who not only wanted to share photos but also wanted the photos to look good. Instagram helped amateur users (people who are not too tech savvy) click – or rather create – photos that looked great. It became popular because of its filters. Facebook tried taking it on in the mobile scene. It failed, realized that more and more people were using Instagram to share photos – something they earlier used to do on Facebook – panicked and made an offer that Instagram couldn’t refuse.

With WhatsApp, something similar happened. From the looks of it, WhatsApp is an instant messaging app. But looks can be deceptive. The app has metamorphosed into the primary communication tool, which is not only used to share text messages but also videos, audio files and images. The ability to form groups in WhatsApp means it has become a social networking app and is a direct competitor to Facebook.

In fact, for most people who use WhatsApp, it is more important than the Facebook app on their phones.

While Facebook remains an excellent service, there is also a feeling among its users that the social networking site has become a little messy. Several revisions have left the Facebook timeline cluttered and devoid of any character. Most Facebook users have too many people as their virtual friends, with many of them being almost strangers. There is too much noise on Facebook. On mobile, there are too many advertisements and promotions.

Facebook also looks a little confused about what its users want. It has tried Facebook Messenger, Chatheads, Facebook Home, but they haven’t exactly caught on. It has also introduced concepts like hashtags and trends – copied from Twitter – but so far there is no indication that users have liked these features.

In contrast, WhatsApp is direct. It is more personal. It has a sense of purpose.

WhatsApp has become an app that people use because they need. Facebook has become an app people (still) use out of habit.

In a way, buying WhatsApp is a pre-emptive move from Facebook. The social networking site is not going to get too many new users through WhatsApp. Anyone who is using WhatsApp, probably also has Facebook installed on his mobile phone. The revenue potential too is not that clear at the moment. WhatsApp is not rolling in money. It charges users less than $1 per year after one year of use. It doesn’t display advertisements. It doesn’t sell smileys or stickers. It doesn’t try to bundle additional services or offer any premium pack.

Even if WhatsApp has one billion paying users, the revenue with the current model is going to be around $1 billion. By any account, this is a very modest figure for a Silicon Valley company.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pulled the trigger on massive deal for one reason: WhatsApp was turning into a huge competition. It was making mobile users spend less time on Facebook. This is the same reason why he spent almost $1 billion on an app that gave users photo filters.

Yes, with its massive reach, WhatsApp has potential to be a money-minting machine. But for now, Facebook is paying $ 19 billion to save itself from WhatsApp. How WhatsApp is going to help Facebook on mobile phones is going to be an afterthought.

 

Posted By Mantosh Pal

When Facebook turned down WhatsApp co-founder for a job!


Jan Koum and Brian Acton have become overnight billionaires, courtesy Facebook buying their startup WhatsApp. However, things were not so great for the two till a few years ago. While Acton, who was looking for a job, faced rejection at Facebook and Twitter; Koum used to queue up for free food stamps.

When Facebook turned down WhatsApp co-founder for a job

Brian Acton will now finally join Facebook, which rejected him a job four and a half years ago. In a tweet on August 4, 2009, he wrote, “Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.”

This rejection came just a few months after he was turned down by the other rising social networking star, Twitter. In a tweet on May 24, 2009, Acton writes: “Got denied by Twitter HQ. That’s ok. Would have been a long commute.”

His next venture was WhatsApp, which shook up the world of messaging, turning users away from text messages and Facebook. The service now has 450 million users and adds approximately a million new users a day.

Jan Koum, the co-founder who has now been appointed to Facebook’s board, used to live on free food stamps provided by the government when he moved to the US from his home country Ukraine, according to a report by Forbes.

Posted By Mantosh Pal

‘India needs more than 4 lakh hackers’


According to CERT-In, the national incident response centre, a government nodal agency, at least 42 million Indians were hit by cyber crimes and the recorded loss of the same was a staggering $8 billion loss in disaster in the past 12 months.

Mohan Gandhi, an Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad graduate provides anti-piracy solutions through his company Entersoft Information Systems. In this interview with rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Gandhi speaks about the challenges while dealing with cyber security and also what it is to be an ethical hacker.

05hacker1

How important is it for India to have ethical hackers?

Forty two million Indians were hit by cyber crimes in the last 12 months, with a total of $8 billion recorded in direct financial losses to the corporate world. India is the third-most affected nation due to hackers.

In terms of cyber attacking abilities and fortification standards of India is far below Israel, the United States and China. China filters and monitors almost every packet/piece of information.

Unfortunately, India has seen many government, and defense websites being hacked in the recent times. Our country has been traditionally defensive in terms of information security.

 

Posted By Mantosh Pal

Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella to get $1.2 mn salary; total package at $18 mn


New York:  Satya Nadella, the new Microsoft CEO, will get a base annual salary of USD 1.2 million, but his overall package after taking into account bonus and stock awards may reach USD 18 million (Rs. 112 crore) a year besides various other perks.

As per his new employment agreement, the Indian-origin CEO of USD 78-billion software major will be paid his salary on “semi-monthly” basis at an annual rate of USD 1.2 million (Rs. 7.5 crore).

Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella to get $1.2 mn salary; total package at $18 mn46-year-old Nadella, who has been with Microsoft for 22 years, would also be eligible for a cash bonus, which can range from zero to 300 per cent, resulting into total payout of up to USD 3.6 million.

Besides this, Nadella, who is a cricket fan, will get stock awards to the tune of USD 13.2 million, taking the total package to USD 18 million.

Nadella’s annual salary would be determined by the company’s Executive Incentive Programme (EIP).

The top executive would be eligible for an annual EIP stock award worth USD 13.2 million from 2015 fiscal year, according to Microsoft’s offer letter to Nadella.

“For Microsoft’s 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, your annual cash award target will be 300 per cent of your salary earned as CEO during the fiscal year.

“Your actual cash award can be from 0-300 per cent of the target and will be based on your performance as evaluated by the Board,” the letter said, a copy of which has been submitted to the US market regulator SEC.

Nadella, who became the third CEO of Microsoft after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, was paid an annual salary of USD 675,000 for the fiscal year 2013 as the President of the firm’s server and tools business.

Going by reports, Nadella pocketed a cash bonus of USD 1.6 million last year.

Microsoft’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

“We expect that you will work with the Compensation Committee of the Board to assess and revise, if appropriate, the EIP to ensure alignment with business priorities. There are currently two key components of the EIP,” the letter said.

To further align Nadella’s interests with the long-term performance of Microsoft, he would be granted Long-Term Performance Stock Awards (LTPSAs).

“One-third of your LTPSAs will be earned based on Microsoft’s total shareholder return relative to the S&P 500 over each of three overlapping, five-year performance periods (LTPSA performance periods) commencing on the grant date and the first and second anniversaries thereof,” the letter said.

Nadella previously held various senior positions at Microsoft in server and tools, cloud and enterprise, online services and advertising platform divisions. He joined Microsoft in 1992.

pOstEd bY MANTOSH PAL

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