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What are the consequences to piracy that involves millions of users and personal information? We look at both the overall effect of the greatest hack in modern day as well as how it came to our attention through someone seeking our support and professional guidance. We offer here testimony and strategy.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you must have heard about the Ashley Madison account hack. This was where hackers released the entire user database of names, email addresses, billing information, and account details of 38 million users tied to the site. Some described the historical hack episode as an extinction-level event for privacy.

Jeff Yang, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, asked this simple but stern question in his CNN-syndicated commentary – Ashley Madison hack: privacy becomes extinct. Comparing the incident to the prehistoric planet-wide catastrophe that wiped out the Jurassic World, Yang declared that the data hack of the Toronto-based infidelity website was “an extinction-level event for privacy”.

Attack Aftermath

We were shocked when we first learned that hackers managed to steal close to 40 million users’ records from Ashley Madison, which made claims shortly after the incident that its members remained anonymous. However, in early August 2015 it was clear that this was not the case as hackers released details of millions of email addresses, billing information, and account details tied to the site[1].

As a group of seasoned IT professionals who have been actively involved with security R&D for a number of years, we can tell this hack event was different from all previous data leakages that impacted large corporations and national-level government agencies. This time, the privacy of many ordinary people – with repercussions to job, relationships, family life, marriage, and personal life – was exploited, ripped apart, and taken away.

What was the impact to this? Heartless spammers sent extortion emails to people demanding ransom in return of “wiping records clean”[2]. Adding salt to the wound, class action lawsuit experts and divorce lawyers are circling victims smelling hefty legal fees in the air. The rippling effect of the biggest privacy invasion in human history will be felt for a long time to come. Sadly, we CANNOT be fooled by those spamming extortionists; data leakage is just like waste water leakage – there is no way to retract or wipe absolutely clean what’s already there.

A Personal Encounter

Just a few weeks ago, the core group here at CompuClever was caught in a “personal” encounter with the Ashley Madison aftermath. A seemly normal support email came from a user requesting help with opening a very large (approximately 10 GB), compressed file. The technical support specialist who was dealing with the ticket noticed something abnormal – the origin of the file resides on “The Pirate Bay”, a controversial pirate website usually referred to as part of the “darker side of the web”. Due to the security concern, this case was quickly escalated to our co-founder and Chief Product Officer Yida Mao, who is also our in-house security expert.

Using an isolated environment, Yida led our security analysts to identify the contents of the large compressed file which actually contained the entire dataset of the Ashley Madison user account database. Due to security pre-cautions and with suspicion of possible computer virus contamination within the compressed file, we immediately notified the user to delete and quarantine the file without her having to opening it. We were told by this user that she had strong feelings that her partner had been active on the Ashley Madison site and wanted confirmation. We utilized alternative and safe methods to fulfill her queries and she was grateful.

When global-scale security breaches like that of Ashley Madison happen, we always have mixed feelings of horror and sympathy, along with a sense of responsibility. The magnitude of the hack, for both the number of people involved and the level of impact is HUGE. Can you imagine if the privacy and secrecy of the entire nation of Canada (approximately 36 million) was hacked, exposed, and ripped apart? Meanwhile, as IT professionals who are actively involved with R&D in the realm of PC security and optimization, we also feel deeply compelled to reach out to our families, friends, and to our users and readers in order to awake their sense of online security. Cyber security breach and privacy invasion is no longer something you only read about in cold war novels or watch in Jason Bourne movies, it is happening to people around us or may have already impacted you and your family.


So what can you do instead of just being paranoid? “Be vigilant and aware of your digital surroundings, just as you should be aware of your physical surroundings” says Yida Mao who has managed multiple R&D teams in the cyber security field and published research findings at several international software consortiums. He offers three core principles for protecting your cyber security and privacy:

  • Be aware of what’s already on your PC: Your PC has a lot of information to tell about you, including your personal data, financial records, photos, tax filings, family tree information, and more. Anything that physically reside on your PC can be stolen and exposed. Read more about how to safely remove sensitive information from your PC…
  • Be aware of what’s getting stored on your PC: Unless your PC is never connected to the Internet, you always face the risk of cyber-attacks or privacy intrusions. Your PC is not designed to battle any of these attacks alone and neither should you. Get comprehensive security software like CompuClever Antivirus PLUS to fend off cyber-attacks.
  • Be aware of what’s being sent from your PC: Frequently you, or your PC, will send out sensitive information or data without your full permission or intent. Do you have a data filtering mechanism to prevent information like your credit card numbers or social security numbers from being leaked out? If not, you should use something equivalent to the Data Protection function in CompuClever Antivirus PLUS to safeguard your personal data.

We urge you to take time and assess what protective measures you have put in place to safeguard your information and your privacy, regardless what software or tools you choose to use. Do not delay or procrastinate, cyberattacks do not wait for you – instead, they catch you off-guard.

In Summary

We are excited to be able to provide an AV product that can equip you with tools designed to safeguard you from cyber attacks. Together with our prior technologies such as PC Clean Maestro you can be more proactive in protecting your privacy and securing your personal information in order to safely enjoy your PC computing practices. We plan to continue covering this theme of protection and security in upcoming articles and welcome your feedback.

Please keep in mind… if you have some ideas of topics you would like us to cover or have other feedback to offer, email us at: newsletter@compuclever.com

Windows 10 and Antivirus

by Andy Thompson on September 18, 2015

During the launch event of our newly released security product -  CompuClever Antivirus PLUS 2016 back in August, many keen users have contacted us about Windows 10 support. I am very excited to announce, as of today, CompuClever Antivirus PLUS 2016 officially supports Windows 10.

>> Learn more about CompuClever Antivirus PLUS

Now, with Windows 10, Microsoft imposes stringent requirements for antivirus software to ensure they are fully compliant to the enhanced security Application Programming Interface (API) specification for Windows 10, AND that the antivirus program also contributes positively to the user experience especially in terms of impact to PC performance. CompuClever Antivirus PLUS 2016 fully meets these new and heightened standards. The antivirus software has been officially approved by Microsoft as being compatible with Windows 10.

>> CompuClever Antivirus PLUS 2016 Now Supports Windows 10

If you are upgrading to Windows 10, please be aware that Microsoft said: “If your anti-malware subscription is not current (expired), Windows will uninstall your application and enable Windows Defender”. We have expressed our concerns about Windows Defender stating that it is not the best antivirus protection you can get, free or paid, even according to PC Magazine.  We recommend anyone upgrading to Windows 10 should check what antivirus protection is running after making the switch.

>> How to tell if your antivirus provides you enough protection

With CompuClever Antivirus PLUS, you can protect a PC with the best antivirus technology trusted by over 500 million users around the world. Still not convinced? No worries, take a FREE 7-day trial for a spin and we guarantee that you will see the difference between your current antivirus program and CompuClever Antivirus PLUS 2016, which offers total security protection with no compromise of PC speed.

Give you and your family the best PC security protection available!

Vigilance and Silence

by Andy Thompson September 10, 2015

Learn how CompuClever Antivirus PLUS’ Autopilot and Profiles feature delivers the best security protection in absolute silence. Better yet, with Real-Time Optimization, it even makes your PC faster.

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Protection vs. Speed

by Andy Thompson September 6, 2015

Does antivirus software slow down PCs? The answer is a definite Yes; but, a conditional one depending on which security software you’ve chosen to run on your PC. According to an extensive endurance test, performed by AV-Test.org, the evidence of PC performance impacted by antivirus software was more than convincing. An antivirus solution that does a mediocre job on reducing its impact on PC performance slows down your PC by taking too much resource like CPU, hard disc, and RAM. As a result, you were forced to make a compromise for speed in exchange for security.

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Stay Safely Connected

by Andy Thompson September 3, 2015

Email and social networking are two primary means of communicating and stay connected with family and friends. Through social network sites and emails, you share updates, post photos, and reveal things that are sometimes very personal about you. Examples include where you live, which company you work for, whom you are related to, when and where you are going on holiday, what food you like, what music you listen to, whom you have just met, etc. By piecing these bits of information together, it becomes easy for anyone to learn more about you. And that’s also how cyber criminals find out information they want from you. Personal identity theft and online scams are two primary threats that target email and social networking users.

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Surf with Confidence

by Andy Thompson September 2, 2015

nlike shark attacks, cyber-attacks are numerous, sophisticated, and ever-changing. Many cyber criminals who have managed to evade law enforcement are not only resourceful but also considered experts. To a certain extent they are even innovative. Compelled by the sinister desire of luring more victims while remaining undetected, hackers diligently invent new techniques and schemes to exploit systems of users who are even security-conscious.

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Safe Guard Your Online Banking

by Andy Thompson August 31, 2015

Over the last few years Internet fraud has increased and is becoming a serious issue for online transactions. Using a variety of methods, online thieves can easily access important information like bank accounts and personal data. This article helps you to understand essential techniques hackers deploy to break into your bank account and how to nullify these hacking attempts by using tools that may already be available with your antivirus application.

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Are you well protected

by Andy Thompson August 27, 2015

No two security products are created equal and there are similarities and important differences among antivirus software when it comes to evaluating the level of sufficiency and effectiveness of protection. This article shows you what to look for and how to tell if your antivirus software provides you enough protection.

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Antivirus Solutions

by Andy Thompson July 31, 2015

Too frequently PC users suffer the consequences of a virus or malware attack. Once becoming a victim of an attack it seems the only choices available is to take it to a repair technician or try to re-install the entire operating system yourself. With all these situations you could face loss of data and you definitely have to wait for your PC to be up and running. Then there is the cost factor if you have to get someone to do it for you. It’s no wonder that security tools such as antivirus (AV) products get a lot of attention. But… as many of us can attest, there are programs that can take over your PC and slow down overall functioning as well as your own workflow when taking into account a constant barrage of popup messages. We examine here AV solutions and focus on what we need and how we can avoid to some degree malicious attacks from occurring.

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Introducing Windows 10

by Andy Thompson July 10, 2015

Microsoft is coming out with a new operating system. There is a lot of “love” going out for this release. That is to say… much of the feedback is that users love the features. And the icing on the cake, like Apple OS X and mobile operating systems, Windows 10 upgrade is free. As many of our readers know… free sometimes comes at a cost. We will examine the fine print and give our recommendations.

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