Malware Attack Response

fedex-fake-email-deliveryMalware Attack Response: a reader asks…

Hi Chris, I just opened a FedEx email on my tablet with a zip file. I clicked on the file to extract but no further. Obviously I just messed up! I shut it down immediately. I’m usually so cautious — Can’t believe I was so dumb & careless today!! Did I do the right thing and is there anything else I should do? I did receive another email from the same “FEDEX” Aruba (!) email address before I restarted the tablet. Maybe they know it didn’t work. Won’t use it for any banking for a loooong time!

If your tablet is an iPad, then you really don’t have anything to worry about. The zipfile was probably infected with something that can devastate a Windows PC, but has a really tough time doing much to Android tablets, and it’s almost certain it couldn’t hurt a Mac. I previously wrote about how to recognize poisoned emails in this article, but we all make mistakes when we’re in a hurry (which in the 21st century is all the time, right?). Fortunately, you weren’t on a Windows PC when you clicked on the file attachment, but hopefully you have some kind of security program on your computer, and hopefully it would’ve stopped the infection before it did any damage.

If you have an Android tablet, then you might want to consider adding protection, as the Android operating system sacrifices security for flexibility. Android devices can use the same kind of protection tools as a Windows PC, but be sure to get them from the Google Play Store. On that note, here’s what I’d currently recommend for adequately protecting any Microsoft Windows PC:

  1. bitdefender-internet-security-box-image-from-bitdefenderdotcomBitdefender Internet Security 2015 (1 year subscription $25-80, check with me in a year whether to renew or replace). You can buy direct from Bitdefender, but search for a better price online or in a local store. For Android, get this app. which is free for a 14-day trial, then $15/year. This is your primary line of defense against viruses.
  2. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium (1 year subscription $25, same as above). You should buy direct from them. For Android, get this app, which is currently free, but just do weekly scans. This is your defense against malware, spyware and adware.
  3. MalwarebyteslLogo-image-from-malwarebytesdotorgMalwarebytes Anti-Exploit Premium (1 year subscription $25, same as above). Buy direct from them. There isn’t an Android version and probably not needed.

The above will do a good job of protecting you without slowing you down much, but it’s not enough. You also need to make sure you keep your computer, tablet and smartphone updated – that’s the operating system as well as any installed software or apps. If you don’t do this, your protection is compromised. No protection program can protect you from yourself!

I also recommend you practice safe computing (a guide here) which includes using a good password manager and following good password practices (advice here).

woman-holding-help-sign-in-front-of-laptop-image-from-shutterstockYou should know that these attacks are pretty much completely automated, there’s no human watching. The original poisoned email is crafted by a human hacker, then distributed by a a zombie, likely on a botnet. As for online banking, you don’t necessarily have to avoid it, so long as you’re following my safe computing guidelines. Don’t beat yourself up about a momentary lapse, but do continue to take action to protect yourself in the digital age!



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