Ho Ho Ho – Have a virus-free Christmas and a malware free New Year. It’s only a few days and holiday season will be with us. At this time of year, we often see an increase in malware activity and clients concerned about shopping online. This article is intended to help our clients and prospective clients stay virus free. Christmas has always been a virus author’s paradise, and a computer user’s nemesis.
The short-history of Christmas malware.
- “Christmas Tree” (AKA Christma Exec) was spread in December 1987 and was an email-aware worm.
- In 1990 the same worm resurfaced and forced IBM to shut down its network of 350,000 terminals.
- Christmas 1999 saw the Melissa virus spread via email. It infected computers and Microsoft word documents, as well as attempting to reformat the C: drive.
- At the same time, a game was being widely spread by email. “Elf Bowling” where Santa tried to knock down a pack of elves with a bowling ball. This game, of course, was infected with a virus.
- At Christmas 2000 the Navidad virus spread via email masquerading as an electronic Christmas card.
- Christmas 2001 saw a similar methodology to spread the Maldal virus.
- The Zafi virus spread in 2004. Spreading fear rather than cheer.
- Christmas 2007 saw the Dorf or Storm worm posing as a sexy striptease by Mrs. Claus.
- Christmas 2009 saw the Koobface worm, which targeted users of Social networks like FaceBook.
- To skip a few years for the sake of brevity and the risk of boring our readers, we can see that these threats have not gone away. In fact, with Ransomware being the cyber criminal’s weapon of choice these days has seen significant growth creating more headaches than before.
- 2017 saw the merry Christmas ransomware distribution. After detonation on a user’s system, the Ransom note would be presented with a picture of Santa standing next to a bomb saying that all your computer data is encrypted and unless you pay within a defined time that all your files would be deleted. This was way more serious than a relatively harmless card we saw some 30 years prior.
Hints for Staying Safe and Virus free.
- Don’t let your guard down just because it’s the festive season – Hackers, Crackers and Virus attackers prey on those that do.
- When you start back at work, most people just want to open their email and deal with the deluge. Because malware is often spread by email, it’s a better idea to ensure your Antivirus and Operating System patches have updated first.
- Similarly, If you wake up to a new computer under the Christmas tree, don’t forget to put it through a security update and to install anti-virus software before you get busy online. (Even if the update takes several hours, it’ll spoil your fun a lot less than being owned by a hacker before lunchtime.)
- Social media users love to spread hoaxes, especially during the festive season. Before you press that share button think. If in doubt go to the Hoax-Slayer website (hoax-slayer.com) and check it out first. Nobody gives away free Range Rovers just for a like and your private email address and phone number. Many think a hoax competition does no harm other than wasting everybody’s time. Maybe you should think about it carefully as now some low-life cybercriminal has your personal contact details with which to direct further attacks.