Picture this. You’re at your PC working away when suddenly a message pops up. It’s alerting that your computer is infected with numerous bugs and viruses. But, could you tell if this alert is true or false? If you answered “No”, you’re not alone. The modern cyber criminal has refined their skills over the years at delivering fake malware and virus alerts, so it’s getting harder and harder to spot the real ones from the fakes.
These fake alerts are referred to as ScareWare, designed to frighten you into downloading potentially dangerous software. Some forms of ScareWare even ask the user to pay for, before they download it. In some cases, the ScareWare is a useless program, and your money is gone. But In other cases, the ScareWare is a malicious program designed to infect your PC and spread to others. The odds aren’t good in either case, but we at intellect IT want to help swing the odds back in your favour.
Common methods of ScareWare delivery
There’s three common ways ScareWare presents itself.
- Browser pop-ups: The crooks will try to make the ScareWare alerts go off inyour browser, whilst your surfing the internet. The cleverer criminals go to great lengths to make alerts look like they’re from well-known security applications (e.g., McAfee, Symantec).
- Website advertisements: ScareWare alerts can show as adds on websites. Such an add might say a scan was performed and it found viruses, spyware, or malware on your PC.
- System tray notifications: ScareWare alerts can be made to look like task bar notifications. Like it’s a message from your PC saying that your computer is infected with malware.
No matter what form, ScareWare alerts try to encourage you to click a button or follow a link. In most cases this will send you to a website that wants you to buy a program that will allegedly remove the bugs on your PC. And as we’ve already said, either this program is useless, or it will actually be malware.
- There are several things you can do to avoid ScareWare scams.
- Install a pop-up blocker into your web browser. Most browsers will have an app store, use that to find a good quality blocker.
- Install a quality piece of security software. Learn what it’s called, what brand it is, and what it looks like. Knowing that alone will increase your ability to spot a fake ScareWare alert.
If you do see an alert or a pop-up, STOP AND THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK! Closely examine the alert and consider the following;
- Is it from your installed security software?
- Does it look different to what your alerts normally look like?
- If the alert happened whilst you’re on a webpage, it’s impossible for that page to know what’s on your computer when you first visit.
- If it tells you that there’s all sorts of bugs and viruses on your PC, it’s a fake. Most alerts notify you that a single (maybe two at best) program or file is suspicious.
If you see an alert and know it’s fake, ignore it. DO NOT CLICK any options! Including options that say “Ignore” or “Cancel”. Clicking these options (and sometimes the “x” to close) might send you to a dodgy website.
But if the ScareWare alert cannot be ignored, or is covering your browser or your desktop, there are some safe ways to shut it down and get your screen back. On Windows computers, press Ctrl+Alt+Del at the same time. Now select “Start Task Manager”, highlight the fake task or your web-browser, and click “End Task”.
Knowledge is power
Cybercriminals are counting on you to react to their ScareWare, and click something. That’s why they love fake alerts. And because people keep clicking these fakes, the crims will keep creating new types of ScareWare. Take away the fear by using the knowledge you now have. Know what’s protecting your PC, and stop blindly clicking alerts you’re unsure of. As always, if after reading this you’re still not sure call 1300 799 165 and let us help you.