AV-Test Results

AV-Test is an organisation that interdependently tests antivirus software. Some of this year’s results are shown below, you can go through all of the results on their website. The list is large and worth looking through.

Here are the top antivirus programs according to their tests – for Windows 8.1. I’ve only copied the ones that received a top score in detecting malware (protection level). They also measured things like performance and usability but I won’t focus on that.

In alphabetical order:

  • Avira: Internet Security 2014
  • Bitdefender: Internet Security 2014
  • F-Secure: Internet Security 2014
  • G Data: InternetSecurity 2014
  • Kaspersky: Internet Security 2014
  • MicroWorld: eScan Internet Security Suite 14.0
  • Panda Security: Cloud Antivirus FREE 2.3
  • Symantec: Norton Internet Security 2014
  • Trend Micro: Titanium Maximum Security 2014


Notice to appear in court

The following email is part of a scam, it includes an attachment that most likely contains a virus, you should not open. Delete the email if you see it.

Notice to Appear in Court,

This is to advise that you are required to attend
the court of Los Angeles in January 8, 2014 for the hearing of your case.

Please, kindly prepare and bring the documents related to this case to Court on the date mentioned above.
Attendance is compulsory.

The copy of the court notice is attached to this letter, please, download and read it thoroughly.

Clerk to the Court.

Snapchat Hacked

Snapchat is a popular photo messaging application mostly used by teenagers. Yesterday hackers stole information from Snapchat and published it as a database for anyone to see.

The hacked data includes usernames, real names and phone numbers of 4.6 million accounts (this is not all of Snapchat’s users). The hackers “censored” the phone numbers by removing the last 2 digits, but it’s possible they’ll publish it again with the complete number.

What does this mean? If you have ever used Snapchat then your personal information may have been leaked and made public. There’s nothing else you can do, the blame lies with Snapchat for not securing their system.

It also means you might receive personalised spam or fraud in the future. If a scammer knows your real name and the real names of your friends then committing fraud becomes much easier.

More information here.

Fake Apple Billing Update

The following email is not from Apple. It’s part of a scam. If you get this, delete it. Do not click on the links.

Subject: Warning !-Apple-Update-Billing-Account

Dear Apple Customer (),

This is an automatic message sent by our security system to inform you know that you have to confirm your account information in 48 hours.
Your iTunes – Account & Billing is prone to be frozen because we are unable to validate your account information. If you do not confirm your account your applications will be deleted from your App Store.
This process does not take more than 3 minutes. To proceed to confirm your account details please click on the link below and follow the instructions.

Verify Now >

Wondering why you got this email?
It’s sent when someone adds or changes a contact email address for an Apple ID account. If you didn’t do this, don’t worry. Your email address cannot be used as a contact address for an Apple ID without your verification.

For more information, see our frequently asked questions.

Apple Customer Support

How can you tell if it’s real or not? Easy. In your email program (e.g. Gmail), place the mouse over the “Verify Now” link. Don’t click, just hover the mouse over it. Somewhere on your screen, usually at the bottom, you’ll see a link. In this email, the link in this fake email starts with tilassa. This is not Apple. If were genuine, Apple’s domain is apple.com, not tilassa. So it’s fake.

Other clues that it’s fake:

  • The email sounds urgent. Most scams use this tactic, it’s a psychological trait we have that we don’t scrutinize urgent matters well.
  • There are mistakes. This one’s pretty good compared to the usual scam, but it says to confirm your account in 48 hours. It should say within 48 hours (there’s a small technical difference).

Vodafone Iceland Hacked

Vodafone Iceland’s servers were hacked on 30 November 2013. Hackers managed to steal confidential account information including customer names, email addresses, social security numbers, and SMS messages.

If you’re a Vodafone Iceland customer it’s a good idea to change your password. And if you’ve sent any confidential information via SMS (such as credit card details, passwords, etc) you should look into that as well.

This is a good time to remind everyone that SMS messages are not very private. Most phone companies keep all SMSs, usually for law enforcement reasons.

Skype Privacy

In the distant past, Skype messages were encrypted and were considered secure and private. But lately there’s been growing evidence that they are no longer private. It seems that Microsoft (the new owners of Skype) have been monitoring messages.

Ars Technica did an experiment by sending a unique link. They monitored their server logs and found that someone (or some system) at Microsoft accessed the link. In less technical terms, this is proof that that Microsoft have full access to your Skype messages. Details of the experiment are here.

Also, another company called H-Online recently did a similar experiment and came to the same conclusion.

This isn’t a risk for most people, it’s just something to be mindful of. Especially if your work requires privacy.

Google vs Bing

A company called AV Test has been testing Google and Bing, and has found that Google is better with filtering out dangerous websites.

They tested 10.9 million searches on both search engines and found that:

  • Google included 272 websites that were infected with malware
  • Bing included 1285 websites that were infected with malware

This is bad. If you’re searching for something, both Google and Bing test every website and hide any website that have been infected. This protects you from clicking on a website with malware. They found that Google is better at filtering infected sites. So if you want the best security possible, do your searches in Google. Full details here.

Other tips I can add are:

  • Use Google’s Chrome browser. It’s fairly good at blocking malware and resisting hacks
  • Keep your computer updates (e.g. run Windows Update frequently)
  • use a good antivirus program
  • be cautious what you click on
  • don’t believe everything you read in Facebook, emails, Twitter, etc


Free Xbox Points hoax

There have been messages appearing on Facebook saying that Microsoft is giving away 4000 Xbox points. It’s fake (a hoax). Firstly, they’re not really called “Xbox Points”, the correct term is “Microsoft Points”, so this is an obvious scam. Secondly, Microsoft has had to step in and make it clear that it’s a hoax (link here)

Below is a screenshot of the hoax,


As always, be wary of any free offers. And very ware of things you read on Facebook, a lot of it is false. Always copy and paste things into Google and do a search, you’ll quickly be able to tell if something is true or a hoax.


Nokia Xpress Browser

Some older Nokia phones, those running Series 40, use a web browser called Xpress Browser. This browser was previously known as Nokia Browser. It’s just been discovered that Nokia decrypts all HTTPS traffic and passes it through their proxy servers. They do this to increase data performance, and they “promise” they don’t store any data.

But it’s still a little disturbing that they do this. HTTPS web traffic is commonly assumed to be encrypted and safe. And it’s probably OK to trust Nokia since they made the phone and its browser anyway. But the fact that they kept how it works a secret is a little unsettling.

Detailed information can be found here and here.

Any if you’re confused by all of the above, it just means that on some older Nokia phones, all web pages go through Nokia’s servers, even “secure” pages. In theory they could one day read or store these pages and you wouldn’t know. If you’re not comfortable with this change phones.