helps consumers protect personal information online

As part of World Password Day earlier this week, McAfee and its partners started an effort to help educate consumers worldwide on the importance of password safety in the wake of the multiple global security breaches. Continue reading helps consumers protect personal information online

McAfee Social Protection Protects Your Facebook Photos

Facebook Photos was designed to make sharing of photos with the people that matter as easy as possible. Privacy was very much an afterthought, and that is still readily apparent. Although Facebook does provide reasonable amount of control over your photos, it is still very easy to slipup and unintentionally broadcast your private moments on the web. Even worse, your friends can share your photos to distribute your pics way beyond their intended social circle.

McAfee Social Protection solves all of this and more. Social Protection will be released as a browser plugin for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome towards the end of this month. Support for Macs, iOS, and Android will arrive by the end of this year. Once you install the plugin, the photos you upload are encrypted and uploaded to a different server. The photos appear blurred by default, and only the intended recipients who have Social Protection installed will be able to view the original snap. This takes care of situations where your boss, who is not even in your friendliest, might accidently stumbling upon your drunken pics because your friend decided to share them with everyone in his network.

via Mashable

McAfee also goes a step further, and makes it impossible to download or screencap your Facebook photos. Other than taking a snap of the screen with a camera, McAfee is pretty much making redistribution of your photos impossible. It is also including facial recognition technology that will automatically alert you if anyone in your network uploads a photo of you without tagging you in it.

We are still a few weeks away from the official release of Social Protection; however, if it indeed works as advertised, it might turn out to be a hit among the more privacy concerned netizens. The fact that only friends who have the plugin installed will be able to view your photos will definitely act as a deterrent. However, that might be a cost people will be willing to pay for the additional privacy.

World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit Tackles Cyber Crime

The second World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit met in Belfast recently and outlined a new research roadmap to tackle the problem of cyber crime on an international scale.

Belfast 2012
Belfast 2012 Report

The summit was sponsored by the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s University, Belfast. It was attended by some heavy hitters in the security industry. According to the Queen’s University press release, it “included Chief Scientific Advisor from the UK Home Office – Professor Bernard Silverman, Cyber Security Division Director of US Homeland Security – Dr Douglas Maughan, Chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Labs – Eugene Kaspersky, Director of Innovation, Connected Energy Networks Cisco – Barbara Fraser, and Raj Samani, CTO, EMEA, McAfee.”

The final product of the conference resulted in four collaborative roadmap documents that focused on four distinct areas:

  1. Adaptive Cyber Security Technologies – Systems need to have the ability to learn from cyber security events and learn on the fly. It was agreed that adaptive techniques could be risky for instance, if the system learns the wrong thing, but the consensus was that adaptive technologies were necessary and must be developed.
  2. Protection of Smart Utility Grids – This addressed both physical and cyber security. One of the big focuses was on the standardization of smart meters and grid management systems.
  3. Security of Mobile Platforms and Applications – The big challenge of this area is that mobility is too broad and it was agreed that no single source could develop security. Protecting the consumer was a big topic of conversation
  4. Multifaceted Approach to Cyber Security Research – Some topics discussed here were sort of like a wish list. For instance, getting people to be as personally responsible for their own cyber security as they are physical security.

To be honest, as an IT Manager, the information flowing out of this summit is both fascinating and overwhelming. Some fantastic resources and presentations can be found on the “Belfast 2012” website at Anyone interested in cyber security and getting a glance at what the big players in the biz are thinking should view this material.

CSIT Principal Investigator, Professor John McCanny, said, “Ultimately our objective is to help make the Internet of tomorrow a safe and secure platform which is vital for global economic growth and societal development.” I say that is a tall order, but due to the many rogues lurking in every corner of our world, it’s an objective that has to be met. When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t put my money on freedom as being their top priority.

Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, and Kareena Kapoor Are Cyber Criminals’ Favorites

According to a study by McAfee, Katrina Kaif is the most dangerous celebrity in the Indian cyber space. While Katrina has a huge fan following and is one of the most searched celebrities on the Web, this would be an awkward sobriquet. She is followed by Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor in the Most Dangerous Indian Celebrity’ revealed by McAfee after they researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal the riskiest celebrity sportsmen, actors, and politicians across the Web.

The cyber criminals create malicious software and online threats designed to steal personal information around fans looking for results on search engines using strings such as name of celebrity’ combined with words like free downloads’, hot pictures’, screen savers’, and videos’.

“In a celebrity crazy country such as India, cyber criminals find it very lucrative to use the names of popular figures as keywords to lure people to websites with malicious software. This year’s study found movie stars top the most dangerouslist, while sports stars and politicians are among the safest.

– Venkatasubrahmanyam Krishnapur, Senior Director, McAfee India

The top 10 celebrities in India with the highest risk percentages are:

  1. Katrina Kaif
  2. Deepika Padukone
  3. Kareena Kapoor
  4. Saif Ali Khan
  5. John Abraham
  6. Priyanka Chopra
  7. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
  8. Bipasha Basu
  9. Aamir Khan
  10. Shah Rukh Khan

The study for Most Dangerous Celebrity’ used the McAfee SiteAdvisor site ratings which indicate the sites that are risky to search for celebrity names on the web and calculate an overall risk percentage. McAfee SiteAdvisor technology tests and rates nearly every trafficked site on the Internet and uses red, yellow and green icons to indicate the website’s risk level.

Cameron Diaz is the Sweet Spot in Malware Baits

Cameron Diaz is the top favorite celebrity on the Internet when it comes to malware. Security company McAfee recently conducted a study in which, Cameron Diaz turned out to be the name associated with malware at large. It is a hot favorite for attracting traffic and the success rate, as projected by McAfee is a whooping one in ten when considering search results.

The search result was tested for the term “Cameron Diaz and screensavers”. McAfee researched the results returned for the names of celebrities, politicians and numerous other famous personalities. The data was estimated by comparing stats from McAfee SiteAdvisor against a search term.

SiteAdvisor provides content advice for websites like presence of malware. The earlier record was held by Jessica Biel who dropped to third place this year. Julia Roberts took second place while Brad Pitt, at 10th position was the first man. As evident from this, men are more  susceptible  to getting affected by malware.

The news of  McAfee being acquired by Intel gained pace recently and you can get more on it from this earlier coverage. With this acquisition, Intel is not only acquiring a security firm but also a huge data powerhouse in the form of the SiteAdvisor. Let us see what Intel cooks up with McAfee.


Intel Acquires McAfee for $7.68 Billion

McAfeeIn an interesting move, Intel has announced that it will be buying the security software firm McAfee for $7.68 billion. This acquisition comes close on the heels of McAfee’s acquisition of tenCube – the developer of WaveSecure.

At first glance this might appear to be a strange acquisition, given that Intel is mainly a hardware manufacturer, whereas McAfee is a software developer. However, as Intel goes on to explain in the following statement, McAfee will help Intel in its goal of providing on-chip security.

The acquisition reflects that security is now a fundamental component of online computing. Today’s security approach does not fully address the billions of new Internet-ready devices connecting, including mobile and wireless devices, TVs, cars, medical devices and ATM machines as well as the accompanying surge in cyber threats. Providing protection to a diverse online world requires a fundamentally new approach involving software, hardware and services.

The price offered by Intel amounts to $48 per share, which is a 60% premium on the value of McAfee’s stock. Intel obviously wants McAfee pretty desperately, since McAfee hasn’t traded at the quoted price since 1999. The acquisition will make McAfee a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel and is expected to be finalized after shareholder approval, regulatory clearances and other customary conditions specified in the agreement.

Flawed MacAfee Update Kills Windows XP Systems Worldwide

Windows XP users, be warned. If you are using McAfee Antivirus, then do not apply DAT update 5958. Apparently, this update causes McAfee to delete svchost.exe, which in turn sets off a chain of events that ends up messing up Windows XP installations. Affected systems will display the following error message and automatically initiate a system restart.


If you have already installed DAT update 5958, then it is best to perform a rollback (from Tools–>Rollback DAT). In the meantime, exercise caution if you get any alerts related to the detection of W32/Wecorl.a. In all likelihood, it is a false positive that can brick your system. If case your system has already been affected, you can stop the infinite restart loop by entering shutdown a in the Run command box (Win+R).

Bungled McAfee updates are nothing new. However, this is obviously a big screw up. At the moment, McAfee is undoubtedly working behind the scenes to rush through a fix. However, even that may be too late, as possibly thousands of perplexed users worldwide have already been affected by this glitch.

image courtesey:

Update: The update has now been pulled from McAfee’s servers. Here is the statement McAfee issued to Engadget:

McAfee is aware that a number of customers have incurred a false positive error due to incorrect malware alerts on Wednesday, April 21. The problem occurs with the 5958 virus definition file (DAT) that was released on April 21 at 2.00 PM GMT+1 (6am Pacific Time).

Our initial investigation indicates that the error can result in moderate to significant performance issues on systems running Windows XP Service Pack 3.

The faulty update has been removed from McAfee download servers for corporate users, preventing any further impact on those customers. We are not aware of significant impact on consumer customers and believe we have effectively limited such occurrence.

McAfee teams are working with the highest priority to support impacted customers and plan to provide an update virus definition file shortly. McAfee apologizes for any inconvenience to our customers

According to early speculation, the number of affected system should be in hundreds of thousands. At the moment, the very least McAfee can do is acknowledge the gravity of their mistake. Bricking a system is not equivalent to causing moderate to significant performance issues.

McAfee Security Scan Plus – Advice That You May Not Want

Recently, I wrote about Secunia’s Online Software Inspector. It scanned my netbook and found several programs that it believed were out of date. As you probably know, out of date programs can give hackers an easy way to gain access to a PC. One of the programs I needed to update was Adobe Acrobat Reader.

I went to the Adobe site to get the latest updated version and while there, I saw an offer for a free copy of McAfee’s Security Scan Plus. I had never heard of it before, and my curiosity would not let me pass it up.


The McAfee product installed right after Adobe finished. A few days later, I finally got around to trying it out. Here’s the first thing you will see upon launching it. It’s a simple welcome screen, nothing more.


Next, you’ll see that you must update this product in order to use it.


The update didn’t take long and they provided an interesting animation while I waited.


Next it started scanning my PC. I was anxious to see the results at this point.

McAfee Cautions About Shortened URLs on Social Sites, HTML 5 and Flash

URL Shortening services are quite the rage because of social networking sites like . However, these shortened URLs could be deadly, at-least for your computers.


According to a new study by McAfee, who are one of the top security software vendors, shortened URLs will be the heavy target for Cyber criminals on sites like Twitter and in 2010.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a tremendous improvement in the ability to successfully monitor, uncover, and stop cybercrime,said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. We’re now facing emerging threats from the explosive growth of social networking sites, the exploitation of popular applications and more advanced techniques used by cybercriminals, but we’re confident that 2010 will be a successful year for the cybersecurity community.

In addition to that McAfee also has raised equal threat levels for Adobe Reader and Flash, which are one of the most exploited end-user software. One interesting point in the study is the prediction that HTML5 will induce more attacks, and entice more rogue sites, due to the fact that it is cross-platform and will help them attack more users. McAfee also says that web based OS such as Google Chrome OS would make malware creators shift towards attacking the web more than desktop users.

The release of Google Chrome OS and the technological advancements of HTML 5 will continue to shift user activity from desktop to online applications, creating yet another opportunity for malware writers to prey on users. HTML 5’s anticipated cross-platform support also provides an additional motivation for attackers, enabling them to reach users of many mainstream browsers.

Some points from the McAfee study say this about the threats in 2010:

  • Social Networks Will Be Platform of Choice for Emerging Threats
  • Cybercriminals Continue to Target Adobe Reader, Flash
  • Web Evolution Will Give Cybercriminals New Opportunities to Write Malware
  • Banking Trojans, Email Attachments Delivering Malware Will Rise in Volume, Sophistication
  • Botnet Infrastructure Shifts from Centralized Model to Peer-to-Peer Control

In a recent show of Gillmor Gang, John Borthwick, the founder of Betaworks, which also owns, said that they generate more than 80 million clicks in 24 hours. Imagine the number of clicks generated by all of them combined and the security risks it presents users with.

Several prominent services like and TinyURL have their own security measures in place, however, to be on the safer site and ensure your , make sure to always update your browser and computer, and use security software on your PC.

Many web browsers like Firefox, , , Internet Explorer 7 and 8 provide additional measures to block suspicious sites, if you are using an older browser it is highly advisable to upgrade it to the latest one.