Trojans and Keystroke Logging

What is a Key Stroke Logging Trojan?
A Trojan is a piece of code or software that finds a way to your computer through malicious emails, infected web sites or social networking sites such as Facebook.  One it reaches your computer, it deploys and becomes almost invisible and waits until activated by a date, an event, or a hacker. 

A very invasive type of Trojan is a keystroke logger such as Zeus.  This key stroke logger actually captures every key stroke you make and sends it off to a hacker or cyber-crime organization within seconds of being entered.  This allows them to capture your ID and password (even an RSA Token Code) and quickly log in and move money through wire transfer or ACH transfers using your online banking.

Is it possible that it's on my computer? 
Absolutely, it could be there now and just sleeping....and the biggest concern is that only 15 percent of these Trojans are detectable by the leading anti-virus software solutions.  For example, the following companies were infected with Trojans:  Bank of America, NASA, Monster, ABC, Oracle, Cisco, Amazon, and Business Week, and they spend millions of dollars on security measures.  These Trojans infect millions of computers each year in the US and Zeus has sent out millions of attacks to users through Facebook since it started.

What can I do?
Do not perform any financial or online banking activities from public computers, or on public wireless networks with your personal computer.  The little coffee shop on the corner is a great place to sit and work on your laptop, but wait to do your financial tasks when you get home or to a secure network that you can trust. 

Do not open or access emails that don't come from someone you know or an organization you recognize.  Just by opening an email you could trigger the Trojan to become active. 

Make sure you are using a reliable anti-virus software and keep the renewal and virus updates current and active. 

Don't go to YouTube or Facebook and download files or access links provided by people you don't trust.   Limit your social networking activities to posting and reading text if at all possible.  Files, video clips, or “downloads” are the biggest risk. 

Don't respond to emails that appear to be from your bank or financial institution that ask for you to access a web site and update your personal information such as social security number, user ID or password. 

Don't pick up a thumb drive or memory stick that is not yours and plug it into your computer.  Criminals will leave them laying around in parking lots and they will be loaded with the latest Trojan virus, just waiting to be activated.

Limit your children or family use of the computer you use for financial activities to a minimum.  Its hard to keep track of where they have gone or what they have downloaded.

Make sure your home wireless network is set up with encryption to reduce the risk of being accessed by an unwanted intruder. 

How does all this apply for my business?
If you own a business, you should have security policies in place and layers of security built into your network.  Following the recommendations above is a good start, and preventing employees from using social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, or external email systems, and other non work related activities will reduce the risk. 

Also making sure there are proper anti-virus and anti spam solutions in place to protect your users and your systems is also recommended, and these things can be maintained internally or by using a local reputable Computer Services vendor.

In addition, it is recommended that you dedicate a single computer to be used for your external financial or business activities such as making wire transfers, submitting orders to partner companies, or entering financial information or employee information into remote systems.  If this system is dedicated to these purposes and not used for email or web surfing, it greatly reduces the risk of infection.

Limit use of memory sticks or thumb drives.  Transporting these to and from business systems and home systems introduces the risk of transporting the virus to your business network. 

Make sure your servers and computers are patched with the latest Microsoft Patches.  Many of these patches prevent or correct security issues.

Limit the use of wireless networks if possible and make sure they are encrypted at the highest level possible.

Key Points to Remember

  • Keep your anti-virus active and up to date.  Never deactivate it due to performance issues.
  • Don't open or access unknown files or emails
  • Report any suspected bank fraud to ibankTTC@tompkinsfinancial.com
  • Limit your use of Social Networking tools to text based activities and don't open or download files
  • Perform your financial and banking activities on your computer and network, don't use public systems or networks.  

Contact your local Computer Service Store if you feel you need additional assistance in protecting your systems or networks.