ThreatSTOP has released ThreatCHECK, a free applet for Windows users to check what we know about the IP addresses their computer connects to. This is the most reliable way to determine who the computer is really talking to. ThreatCHECK will provide a report identifying which countries the IPs are in, and call out known botnet and malware sites along with detailed research about them.  ThreatCHECK is easy to download and can be run in the background.  To download:

With ThreatCHECK, users can make sure that when they are going to their favorite online retailers, their computer isn’t also sending all their keystrokes to criminal syndicates.  Simply checking with ThreatCHECK for a few minutes can potentially save a consumer thousands, and businesses millions, of dollars from stolen credit card numbers or credentials, lost data, cost of remediation and even fines for failing to comply with data security regulations.

As more and more shopping moves online, more and more crimes are committed there.  The holidays are the busiest days for online merchants as well as for the cybercriminals.  Botnets, advanced persistent threats and criminal malware are widely recognized as the most serious information security problem today.  The average number of web attacks globally doubled in 2010 from 10 million to 20 million[1], and the cost to consumers and organizations runs in the billions.  Despite $20 billion spent annually on network security, 99% of networks are infected by malware.[2]  Criminals clearly have the upper hand as they attack—and profit—with very little cost and total impunity using victims’ own computers.  No one, from the individual to the largest organizations, is immune.

[1] “Internet Security Threat Report—Trends for 2010”, Symantec Corp., April 2011

[2] “Advanced Threat Report—1H 2011”, Fireeye, Inc.