It’s not paranoia, they really are out to get you. When the very organisations promoting IT security manage to botch it up, it’s difficult to have confidence in anything anymore.
One of the latest cases of misplaced trust is the CCleaner software saga.
This software, available for PCs and for Android mobile devices, is designed to help users optimise performance by cleaning cookies, internet history, and other temporary files. The PC version was recently hacked, spreading malware to possibly millions of users.
Given that the owner of CCleaner is none other than Avast Piriform, how did such a hack happen and what else should you watch out for?
CCleaner can be downloaded from Avast Piriform servers, which is apparently where the hackers attacked. The infection was noticed by experts at Cisco Talos, who noticed a version of the application trying to connect to other unregistered web pages, perhaps with the intention of downloading yet other programmes.
While this kind of behaviour is common in software that comes directly from bad actors, the CCleaner software was a legitimate version of the application, presenting a valid digital signature to earn the trust of the receiving PCs.
Who else has managed to send out “safe” software that turned out to be high risk, if not downright dangerous?
In June of 2017, Ukrainian accounting software went out with a hidden “NotPetya” attack, a variation on ransomware attacks in general and on the preceding “Petya” attack in particular.
Before that, the RSA tradeshow offered its very own tradeshow mobile app that unfortunately contained comprehensive tradeshow attendee data, making this data accessible to anyone running the app.
The moral of the story is to avoid taking anything on trust or to at least check for vulnerabilities and risks before distributing software for wider usage. If the paragons of IT security can’t get it right, you may just have to sort out your IT and cyber protection for yourself.