Your Software, such as CCleaner, May Have Backdoors

by | Sep/19/2017

Can you trust programs you download? Millions of users, including outsourced computer firms, use a program called CCleaner on their own and on customers’ computers. CCleaner just announced that some of its software was compromised and has been stealing data from users’ computers.

Every program that you install on your computer is a potential security risk.

CCleaner may be installed on your computers, right now, by well meaning, qualified, IT professionals who care about you and your organization. It is a powerful tool with many beneficial features. Yet it has been hacked.

It will not help you to invest energy being angry at your in-house, or outsourced, IT professionals, or to be angry at the developer of CCleaner. They mean well and are using their skills to protect you and your company. CCleaner has undoubtedly added a great deal of value to the world by speeding up computers and removing malware. At some point, IT professionals have to trust that some programs are secure.

But their trust is exactly what attackers are counting on.

What you, as an executive, must do is to ask your IT team for a list of all programs installed on your network. Ask IT to uninstall all programs, that you, with their input, decide are not absolutely essential for you to use to serve your employees and customers. Do not burden them with making that decision on their own.

You owe that to your customers who trust you with their information.

You may decide to stick to using programs from well known and vetted companies, although that is no guarantee that the program is safe. Any program that is installed by millions of users becomes a target for attackers to use as a vector into your organization’s computers.

If you use CCleaner, uninstall it. Know that some of your data, perhaps whole computers, have been compromised. You can read their official announcement here:

Know that uninstalling software does not remove the malicious code imbedded in your computer. And don’t count on your anti-virus to find the code. Attackers know how to hide malware from anti-virus programs. The best thing to do would be to rebuild the computers from scratch. Hackers are counting on the fact that your IT Pros do not have time to reload each computer. Ask your IT Pros if they have time. Either free up some of their time so they can perform the reload, or bring in an outsourced company to help, or choose to accept the risk and go on. That’s a decision for the executives to make. Using a technology called VDI makes the reinstallation process much easier.

If you want to continue to use CCleaner, if there is an executive level decision that the risk is worth the benefit, then you can ask IT to re-install the newest version.

Forward this to every executive you know. Tell them about this crisis, and how they must be involved in identifying all non-essential programs, so that IT can uninstall them.