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Category: OS Windows and Security

Biggest Data Breach Yahoo accounts

Biggest Data Breach – Yahoo

Biggest Data Breach Yahoo accounts
Are you using any services from yahoo which requires login using yahoo account credentials?

I mean, are you using any of the services from yahoo like yahoo mail, Flicker or any other services which requires you to login with yahoo user ID and password then the strong recommendation is to change your password as soon as possible and to be in safer side. The reason is, recently yahoo published their latest security update notice publicly stating there has been data breach issue occurred in year 2013 which has been investigated by yahoo and its forensic investigator partners. They have confirmed as nearly more than 1 billion user accounts information is stolen by unauthorized third party in Aug 2013. Yahoo has not been able to identify the intrusion associated yet with this theft.

The company had taken some important measures to strengthen their security and to avoid this kind of issues in future. For potential affected users, they are notifying about this issue along with recommendations on what end users can do from their side to protect their yahoo accounts.

You can check more details on this issue from yahoo security update bulletin.

What Data Breach happened at yahoo?

Now let us discuss about account information which was stolen by unauthorized third party in Aug 2013 and same has been mentioned above,

The account information which we are referring here is- Names of user, Email address, Telephone numbers, Dates of Birth, hashed passwords (These are nothing but encrypted strings stored in databases using MD5) and in some cases encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers or blank account information.

Recommendations for Yahoo users :-

Yahoo already invalidated the unencrypted security questions and answers so that they cannot be used to access an account. They also invalidated the forged cookies and hardened their systems to secure them against similar attacks.

What yahoo recommends for their customers or yahoo users (This also needs to be considered as best practices)

  1. Yahoo recommends their users to change their account passwords and security questions/answers. This applies to any yahoo account and not specific to any particular service (Eg: Yahoo mail)
  2. Review all your accounts for suspicious activity.
  3. Be cautious of any unsolicited communications that ask for your personal information or refer you to a webpage asking for personal info.
  4. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachment from suspicious emails.

For more recommendations and Best practices for creating strong passwords you can refer the article published and linked under following url.

Creating Good Strong Password – Recommendations

For some more recommendations on securing your data, please refer the article published and linked under following URL

Basic Tips to securing your data


TOP 9 Alert Computer user Tips !!

With the popularity of Internet now a days and with tremendous growth of information Technology or IT sectors new oceans are getting born. These oceans are not filled with water but with lots of information, data which is easily accessible to Authorized users. On daily, per minute and per sec uncountable waves of Information, data flows from one user to another, one device to another or to millions and billions. This data might be secured or unsecured. The unsecured data could be theft or attacked by attackers or attackers may destroy the data. The unsecured networks may help attackers control your systems and misuse your personal information.

Even secured Data networks may get attacked and misused or destroyed. Having secured systems layers or Softwares (Eg: Network security layers, Antivirus, Host intrusion prevention, DLP) may provide some amount of protection from these attackers (Eg: Malwares, Viruses, worms, Trojans etc ) however the network or systems or even home PCs will not be 100% secured anytime unless users i.e we are not 100% Alert always i.e  while we are working over internet, checking emails, connecting removable or any external storage devices. If we are not Alert computer users then its invitation to attackers to attack the PCs and perform destruction or miss use of your data and it could be your official data as well which may be useful to your competitors.

So how to avoid viruses, worms and Trojan attacks?

To answer to above question is simple, be Alert, cautious and follow the below simple Steps. The following steps can provide significant protection against the spread of malware code or malicious code however these steps require end user judgment call.

I had shared one of the example of malware infection recently in my article which is about browsers Hijacker malware.please go through it. Being a Alert computer user we could avoid such malware attacks easily.

Alert computer user Top 9 Tips and steps:

  1. Don’t open any attachments or emails from strangers. Generally these emails may look like below examples shown

Source emailSource email 2Source email 3

















2. Only accept or open emails which are expected and from trusted senders. We should have prior knowledge about such attachments or emails.

3. Use genuine Antivirus softwares on systems/Pcs which is upto date on regular basis with latest signatures files. Enable email protection. Recommendation is to do not use any freely available Antivirus or non-trusted one

4. Turn off the “Use Macros” feature in spreadsheet applications (Eg: MS Excel application) and word processors. Most of the malwares getting spread now a days using these files and exploiting these features.

The following article from Microsoft shall help you providing detailed information on how to disable macros in MS excel application


5. Avoid downloading untrusted, pirated softwares from internet.

6. While you are using the Removable devices (USB Devices i.e Pen devices or Mass storage devices) before accessing the data from it, scan them for known malwares. To cover maximum protection your antivirus should be running with latest or current available Anti-malware signatures.

Below are some of the screenshots of Removable device which got infected when it was connected to malware affected system and data got transferred to these devices.MALWARE Trojan1

Malware Symptoms




  1. While browsing on internet avoid downloading torrents or any third party setup files which do not have author or company details.
  2. Run the full Scan of systems atleast once in a week.
  3. Patch your operating systems and applications running with latest patch and hotfixes available. Generally the patches and hotfixes fix known bugs and vulnerabilities in that program or in operating system. This is the most important and basic step securing your PC.

Hope the above information helps. These are just basic Tips for computer users (Could be using their personal PC, Office PC ) and mostly related endpoint systems and not covering information backend security (Eg: Network security).

Hope it helps. Be good, alert computer user and contribute to secure your data.
Happy Alert computer User with smile

Hijacked browsers redirecting to hohosearch.com !

Is your browser redirecting your homepage to hohosearch dot com?

If yes, then your computer or browsers are infected by browser hijacker adware (Computer malware) hohosearch dot com. The situation would be as illustrated in below picture where some of the widely used browsers (for eg: Internet explorer, Mozilla firefox and google chrome) are hijacked by Adware or malware. The hijacker with happy face and affected end users with sad face as he might go through lot of problems on his computer until we completely remove this malware from system.

Note: Please note, in this article we have used hohosearch dot com to refer actual problematic adware search engine URL.

Browser Hijacker hohosearch malware

This is a browser hijacker adware that will replace your homepage which you configured on browser settings or your default homepage in to hohosearch.com page which will redirect you to sponsored link that may be unsafe. If you see such symptoms stop browsing until you can delete hohosearch.com completely.

This malware usually installs without user knowledge as these kind of malwares bundled with another file and put the package up for download.

Eg:- for this would be a movie download torrents. When the file is downloaded such downloads may show you file extensions as .exe files which is first hint to help you identify as this is not normal movie file download. You have to delete such files at this point itself. In case if you gone ahead and ran these kind of files the Adware/malwares can hijack your browsers and may infect system with other malwares which might be dangerous.

If your system is affected by hoho search engine malware when you begin to use chrome, Internet explorer, or Mozilla firefox browsers, you will usually redirected to hohosearch engine website which looks very basic search engine website. This website might have some links for other adwares. In some cases your computers behave slower due to this infection.

How to remove hohosearch dot com from your browser homepage?

Step 1: Stop browsing or working on your bookmarked sites until we remove this malware completely from the system. This is to avoid further infection and to avoid unauthorized tracking of your browsing history which might occur.

Step 2: Go to control panel by typing following commands or through programs

Start ==> Run ==> control panel

Look for Hohosearch program and the programs which got installed on that particular day without your intervention or knowledge. Uninstall each and every program. Restart the machine

This is not the only step which will help you to get rid of this browser hijacker adware. We have to follow below next steps in order to completely remove this malware from the system.

Step 3: Now we will have to work on browsers to clean them with this infection. First open Internet explorer browser which will re-direct you to hohosearch engine website. No problems. Follow the below next steps

Go to Internet options [As shown in below screenshots], you might see your homepage for IE got changed from your custom homepage or from default homepage to hohosearch com

Hoho Malware IE Cleanup

Remove that entry or select option “Reset to default”. The homepage will be reconfigured to default.

Delete the entire browsing history. Then click on “Programs Tab of Internet options” and select “Manage Add-ins” to see if any unwanted browser Add-ins got installed. If you find any suspicious ones remove them. Click on Advance tab of internet options and reset the internet explorer

Hoho Malware IE Cleanup1

Step 4:  For firefox browser, Enable menu bar and delete all history as shown in below screenshots

Right click on browser title bar and enable “Menu Bar” ==> Go to “History” tab and select option to clear recent browsing history

From dropdown select option “Everything” to delete from History and click on Clear now.

Hoho Malware Firefox Cleanup

Step 5: Possibly uninstall the Mozilla firefox browser and reinstall. The chances are you might see this malware again on firefox browser that means we still have some re-mediates of this infection which needs to be cleaned. Move to next steps

Step 6: For Google chrome browser, go to settings as shown in below screenshots.

Hoho Malware Google Chrome Settings

On startup tab options click on “Set pages” and then delete all unwanted and suspicious malware URL links as shown in below screenshot

Hoho Malware Google Chrome Cleanup

Under “Search” options click on “Manage Search Engines”, delete suspicious and unwanted search engines and make Google or your custom webpage url as your default homepage.


Step 7: Go at the end of Google browser settings and click on “Reset settings” which will reset your browser settings. Go back to browsers settings button again ==> Click on More tools ==>Extensions

Remove unwanted and suspicious extensions.

Hoho Malware Google Chrome Extensions Cleanup1

Step 8:  Now the main step. How to remove hohosearch dot com from your Registry?

Steps are here..

Start ==> Regedit ==>from Edit menu click on “Find” or “Find next” ==> Enter the search string as “hohosearch” or “hoho” or “hohosearch dot com” and you may see below registry entries

Delete these reg-entries by having a backup of your registry as an safer side i.e by mistakenly if you delete any genuine reg key and if your windows got affected you can try importing the Reg key backup in safemode of windows to correct that issue and this is considered as one of the Best practices while we work on windows registry troubleshooting.

For reference on how to take windows registry backup and restore procedure you can follow the steps given in following Microsoft knowledge base article

Check below screenshot and registry paths shown which may help you to find registry entries of this browser hijacker

Hoho Malware

Hoho Malware1

Hoho Malware2

Hoho Malware3

Step 9: Now next step is to clean-up your windows start-up settings. To do this try below steps

Go to Run command by click on Start ==> Run ==> Type msconfig ==> Click on Startup ==> Remove suspicious programs from your startup list

Step 10: Now finally last but not the least check if there are any unwanted or suspicious windows tasks shown up under Task scheduler which we can see through computer management

Start ==> My computer or this pc ==> Right click and select manage or computer management
If there are any unwanted or suspicious tasks you find, delete them by selecting the delete option.

[Please note below screenshot just for reference and do not contain any malware affected tasks]

Task Manager

Hope the information shared above helps. These just few of the steps which we can try to remove the hohosearch dot com adware malware and may not include all the steps. If you have tried all above steps and if the issue still not resolved then the best recommendation from my side is to contact your system admin or your antivirus support team and they shall be able to help further. I personally do not recommend downloading any 3rd party antivirus or clean up utility as we may not be sure on those programs and may fall in to bigger problems.

Finally would like to say Be safe, Browse safe, Be Alert and you will be most Happy like….

Malwarefree User with smili


Creating good strong password

In Today’s word Password guessing and cracking attacks are common ways of getting unauthorized access to your web accounts, networks, mail accounts. Even the best passwords can eventually be broken, given enough time. The use of strong passwords provides a firm layer of security against password attacks and buys additional time against cracking attacks.

Protecting your data is your own responsibility. See my other article on Basic Tips to secure and protect your data

Is your password Strong enough?

Following are some of the Best practices guidelines for creating good strong password

  • Use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters
  • Don’t always use your first letter as in uppercase but use other letters in uppercase
  • Create the password that can be typed quickly without looking at keyboard keys. This helps preventing “Shoulder surfers” from attempting to steal passwords.
  • If the account is critical, recommendation is to change it very frequently (Eg: Administrator account or root account)
  • Don’t use the words contained in dictionaries.
  • Never use first name, Middle name, last name or nick name in a password
  • Never use your own username in any form of passwords
  • Never use personal information in passwords such as your date of Birth, Pet names, your first car name, Address etc
  • Password including just numbers and characters should not be used
  • Don’t write down passwords or Tell your password to any one
  • Don’t use shared accounts. Which means we should avoid using same credentials i.e user name and password for different services (Eg: Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, or for corporate logins)
  • Make passwords easy to remember for you but at the same time it should be difficult for others guess
  • Possibly avoid creating long password as they hard to remember and we have to write down some where
  • If you are going to create little longer password the suggestion is to use passphrases instead of passwords. A passphrase is sentence that you type in as a password. It’s easier to remember even we have to type longer password. Such passwords are very difficult to guess

Strong Password


Basic Tips to secure and protect your data

Computer Maintenance:

You may not realize it, but your computer and your vehicle have something in common: they both need regular maintenance. No, you don’t need to change your computer’s oil. But you should be updating your software, keeping your antivirus subscription up to date, and checking for viruses.

Getting started

Here are some basics maintenance tasks you can do today to start improving your computer’s security. Be sure you make these part of your ongoing maintenance as well.

  • Sign up for software update e-mail notices. Many software companies will send you e-mail whenever a software update is available. This is particularly important for your operating system (e.g., Microsoft/Mac), your antivirus program, and your firewall.
  • Register your software. If you still have registration forms for existing software, send them in. And be sure to register new software in the future. This is another way for the software manufacturer to alert you when new updates are available.
  • Install software updates immediately.When you get an update notice, download the update immediately and install it. (Remember, downloading and installing are two separate tasks.)

A few simple steps will help you keep your files safe and clean.

  • Step 1: Update your software
  • Step 2: Backup your files
  • Step 3: Use antivirus software and keep it updated (Some of the Best Antivirus software’s are McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro etc)
  • Step 4: Change your passwords

Developing ongoing maintenance practices

Now that you’ve done some ground work, it’s time to start moving into longer term maintenance tasks. These are all tasks that you should do today (or as soon as possible) to get started. But for best results, make these a part of a regular maintenance schedule.

  • Back up your files. Backing up your files simply means creating a copy of your computer files that you can use in the event the originals are lost.
  • Scan your files with up to date antivirus software. Use your antivirus scan tool regularly to search for potential computer viruses and worms. Also, check your antivirus program’s user manual to see if you can schedule an automatic scan of your computer.
  • Change your passwords. Using the same password increases the odds that someone else will discover it. Change all of your passwords regularly to reduce your risk. Also, choose your passwords carefully and keep them complex.

These are very basic Tips to maintain your computer upto date and keeping your data safe. Hope the information above helps.

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