Free Antivirus – Windows (2013)


This is a list of free antivirus solutions.  Each one has their strengths and weaknesses and you will have to do a little research to know what is best for you.  Personally I use Microsoft’s Security Essentials because it works well for me, however I am not recommending it as there are a number of options some of which might be better given your needs.  The three below I have used and had reasonably good experiences are Avast, AVG and Microsoft Security Essentials.  While I have not used Bitdefender for Windows (it does have generally good reviews and my experience with using their Linux Freeware version is good.

One note of caution.  Read the licensing agreement.  Most are free for personal use (home), only some are free for business or corporate use.  It is highly recommended to choose an antivirus solution that provides real time protection.

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How to Protect Yourself from Malware


There are plenty of sites out there to provide you details of WHY Malware is such a concern today so I am not going to repeat the message here.  I am assuming you already know what Malware is and are looking for a simple list of things you should do to protect yourself.  If I am assuming correctly then I expect you will like this list.

How to Protect Yourself from Malware

  • Keep your system up to date.  Apply related security patches as soon as they are available.  This is for both your Operating System (including things like Linux, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Surface, Android, etc) and the applications that are on the system.
  • Install a strong antivirus software solution and most importantly, KEEP IT UP TO DATE.  It is good to periodically run a full system scan.
  • Remove applications you are no longer using and will not be using.
  • Do not install applications from locations you do not trust.  This includes locations such as peer to peer sharing, pirated software, FREE songs that should not be free, companies you do not know or trust, emails from unknown senders, unexpected emails from senders with suspicious content, etc.
  • Do not use USB or USB type devices from untrusted/unknown sources.
  • Do not open files sent through Instant Messengers from untrusted/unknown sources.
  • Use a proxy with Malware protection.  Ensure it is regularly updated and includes the ability to examine all content (including SSL traffic) and provides regular block list updates for known “bad” sites.
  • Use additional browser plugins such as WOT (Web of Trust) or Bit Defender as a way to know site ratings from web searches prior to clicking links.  WOT is a great source for user feedback, you can even provide your own feedback for any site!
  • Use your browsers built in phishing and Malware protection services.  If your browser does not offer this I suggest using a different browser.
  • Do not run your browser as an “Administrator” or using elevated credentials.
  • Do not use SSL (HTTPS) sites with untrusted certificates.

Any questions?

Security Online Malware Research Tools


Here is a collection of various online tools I use to research security related to specific URLs.  Order is not related to usefulness as each has their own usage.  WOT (Web of Trust) is one of my favorites but they all have their uses when researching malware sites.

Virus Total

File Scanner:
https://www.virustotal.com/en/

URL Scanner:
https://www.virustotal.com/en/#url

Description: VirusTotal is a free service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and malware.

Use Case(s): Virus Total is a very easy tool to use and can give immediate returns for better known exploits, viruses, malware, etc. This site can also analyze either a single file or full URL. Just because a check comes back clean DOES NOT mean the file or URL are clean. If one or more of the results identify the file as MALWARE beware as there is a high potential for infection.

  1. Evaluate a potential malicious file by uploading it.
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  2. Evaluate a potential malicious URL scanning it.
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Here is a URL sample report of an infected site. It does not show the full list of all engines that check, however what should be of interest and concern to you is that at least two of the sites registered the URL as MALWARE.

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URLVoid

Link to URLVoid:
http://www.urlvoid.com/

Description: URLVoid.com is a free service developed by NoVirusThanks Company Srl that allows users to scan a website address with multiple website reputation engines and domain blacklists to facilitate the detection of possible dangerous websites, used to distribute malware and spyware or related to fraudulent activities. This site can simply be thought of as a website blacklist database.

Use Case(s): This site has much the same use case(s) as Virus Total, however there are a few unique features that URLVoid has that Virus Total does not have.

  1. Evaluate a potential malicious URL
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  2. Shows Website Blacklist Report with clickable links to each of the blacklist sites. Some will pull up reports like MyWOT, others will take you to the search page where you can search again for the questionable site directly.
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  3. Test if the site is still up and responding.
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  4. Shows IP Address Details, server geolocation and “website neighbors”.
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  5. This site also provides informational traffic graphs.
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WOT – Web of Trust

Link to WOT:
http://www.mywot.com

Description: Web of Trust (WOT) is a powerful user reporting tool. It can be added to your browser to provide “warnings” for links provided by search engines (such as Bing and Google). It also provides a method of allowing users to provide direct ratings and comments to any given site. This tool can be added directly

“WOT displays a colored traffic light next to website links to show you which sites people trust for safe searching, surfing and shopping online: green for good, red for bad, and yellow as a warning to be cautious. The icons are shown in popular search engine results, social media, online email, shortened URLs, and lots of other sites.”

Use Case(s): This site has much the same use case(s) as Virus Total and the base function of URLVoid, however it also has a unique feature of its own – a large self-reporting user community base. The largest value I find from this site is self-reporting comments and user ratings. User ratings are broken down by Trustworthiness, Vendor Reliability, Privacy and Child Safety.

  1. Evaluate potential malicious URLs broken down by Trustworthiness, Vendor Reliability, Privacy and Child Safety. Additional information regarding blacklisting’s (such as from SURBL) is provided.
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  2. User comments are provided for some sites. When these exist I find they can be particularly useful, especially when users report sites contain malware and have overall poor ratings.

Google Safe Browsing

Link to Google Safe Browsing:
http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=http://domain.com

Description: Good easy online check, however it is not very good at catching transient sites. I very often will use this (or MyWOT) first as a quick check.  There is no search “box” that I have found and to use this you will need to change site=http://domain.com to the site you want to check, such as site=http://checkthisbadboyout.com

Use Case(s): Provides information if a site has been listed with Google as having suspicious activity over the past 90 days. Some items which can be of use:

  • What happened when Google visited the site: This section will list the number of Trojan(s) and Exploit(s) hosted (not type) and can also provide details such as “infection resulted in an average of 1 new process(es) on the target machine”.
  • Has this site hosted malware: This section can contain other domains which are either associated or were infected by this domain.
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vURL Online

Link to vURL Online:
http://vurl.mysteryfcm.co.uk

Description: vURL is a webpage dissection service that was developed due to limitations that were found in alternate services of similar function. This is probably one of the most complex online tools and certainly the most complex listed on this page. Most of the other tools available will usually provide you enough information to determine if a site is hosting malicious content, however in some cases it may not be clear or there is a need to see what the output of the code is when visiting the site without risking infection to your own machine. When this is needed it is time to utilize the power of vURL Online.

Use Case(s): This tool provides some basic information regarding the site but its primary use is website dissection. In its current incarnation, vURL dissects webpages you provide it, and extracts the following for you:

  • Webpage title
  • Webpage source code (with line numbers)
  • Webpage links
  • Webpage images (coming back soon)
  • Server headers (Only if the server returns this information – not all servers do)
  • Server IP address
  • Server IP PTR (IP to hostname resolution)
  • Server type (Only if the server returns this information – not all servers do)
  • hpHosts inclusion status
  • Malware Domain List (MDL) inclusion status
  • PhishTank inclusion status
  • WhoIs and net-block information (Provided via hpHosts Online)
  1. Need to dissect a URL.
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  2. Provides basic server information, status from hpHosts, MDL, Phish Tank, Sudo secure and Known Security. It also provides the header breakdown
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  3. And this is where the real fun begins. A line by line breakdown of the entire webpage response. This can be useful for identifying re-directions  obfuscation, etc. It has a lot of power, way more than is appropriate to provide detailed information within this document.
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How to determine where an email was sent from (tutorial)


This video explains how to trace an email back to where it originated (or was sent from). This does not mean that the location the email came from is where the person who sent it is, but it does help to determine in most cases where an email was sent from. Information which you can use to determine the legitimacy of any email, spam or otherwise.

YOUTUBE VIDEO LINK
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU649WNhFeE

Malicious Email Attachment – Javascript Obfuscation (How to Decode)


This video is a demonstration on how to “decode” malicious email attachments that contain obfuscated javascript, or javascript that contains malicious code that is not in an easily readable human format. The purpose of this demonstration is to show you my methodology for decoding the contents of the malicious attachment and help understand what the threat or risk is. This is very useful to do to know what URLs to block or understand what damage has likely been done in the event someone who has received this email has become compromised.

YOUTUBE VIDEO LINK
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh-3pEe20OU

How to Easily Analyze a Malicious Javascript Attachment


This tutorial is very much like my prior one, has the same JavaScript attachment however in my prior video I did a deep dive on dissecting the JavaScript and in this one I let the browser do the work for me. This makes it quick and easy to determine where any JavaScript is directing you. Do not try this unless you know what you are doing and if you do you accept full responsibility for infecting your system if you do. The safest way to protect you is to use a browser you do not use (empty cookies, history, cache, everything), use it in incognito mode and DISCONNECT your internet connection.

YOUTUBE VIDEO LINK
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r3k2PE8Xzc