Ten Ways to Dodge CyberBullets, Part 10

10. Don’t be a crackhead

This is the tenth and final in a series and is an update to our top 10 things that people can do to protect themselves against malicious activity we provided to our clients two years ago.

Don’t use cracked/pirated software. Such programs provide an easy avenue for introducing malware into (or exploiting weaknesses in a system. The illegal P2P (peer-to-peer) distribution of copyrighted audio and video files is dangerous. Some of these are counterfeited or modified so that they can be used directly in the malware distribution process.

Even if a utility seems to come from a trusted and trustworthy source rather than Mrs. Miggins’ Warez Emporium, it pays to verify as best you can that it’s genuine.

Win32/GetCodec.A, which is as common now as it was a year ago, is a type of malware that modifies media files. This Trojan converts all audio files found on a computer to the WMA format and adds a field to the header that includes a URL pointing the user to malicious content, claiming that the fake “codec” has to be downloaded so that the media file can be read.

WMA/TrojanDownloader.GetCodec.Gen is a downloader that facilitates infection by GetCodec variants like Win32/GetCodec.A.

Passing off a malicious file as a new video codec is a long-standing social engineering technique exploited by many malware authors and distributors. The victim is tricked into running malicious code he believes will do something useful or interesting. While there’s no simple, universal test to indicate whether what appears to be a new codec is a genuine enhancement or a Trojan horse of some sort, we would encourage you to be cautious and skeptical about any unsolicited invitation to download a new utility. Even if the utility seems to come from a trusted site, it pays to verify as best you can that it’s genuine.

 

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