Unless you are smarter than the hacker
If the following type of alert pops up, do not click on it!
‘Warning – your computer is infected! System detected virus activities. They may cause critical system failure. Click here to get available software.’
You are working at your computer when all of the sudden – BAM! – you get a pop-up notification that your PC is infected with a virus and you must ‘click here’ to run a scan or install antivirus software.
This is a common scareware tactic used by hackers to get you to click and download a virus.
Scammers often use the names of well-known companies that specialise in computer software to gain your trust.
The pop-up advertisements aim to mimic genuine warning alerts generated by computer security software.
The software or ‘Free Scan’ offered in pop-up alerts often does not work. It actually infects your computer with the dangerous programmes it is supposed to protect against.
This scam aims to either charge you for bogus software and/or obtain your personal information. Once your computer is infected, the scammer commonly gathers personal information to steal your identity or to sell it to other criminals.
Fake anti-virus spyware programmes often generate more ‘alerts’ than the software made by reputable companies.
- You may be bombarded with pop-up alerts, even when you’re not online.
- Scammers commonly use high pressure sales tactics to convince you to buy NOW!
- The alert may request you to pass on the ‘warning’ to ‘others in your address book’ or ‘everyone you know.’
- Broken or oddly phrased English.
- The message is not addressed to a specified recipient, instead it is addressed to the ‘account holder’ or uses another generic title.
- If your computer has been infected, it may dramatically slow down. Other signs that your computer has been infected include new desktop icons, new wallpaper or your default homepage is redirected to another site.
Protect yourself! Avoid questionable websites. Some sites may automatically download malicious software on to your computer.
Remember, there is nothing for Free!
Often it will appear to be a system alert or a Microsoft operating system alert.
Regardless of how legitimate it looks, never click on the site or the pop-up.
The safest thing to do is close your browser; do not click on the X, ‘Close’ or ‘Cancel’ button in the pop-up or on the site because clicking on anything on the page or pop-up will trigger a virus download. If that would not work, bring up your task manager (hold Control + Alt + Delete on a PC and Command + Option + Esc to ‘Force Quit’ on a Mac) and close the web browser or application where it appeared.
Next, notify your IT department that this has happened so we can double-check with a legitimate scan if your computer was infected.
Vijay Nyayapati is an IT Security expert for medium-sized businesses and co-author of Amazon’s Best Seller ‘Under Attack: How to Protect Your Business & Bank Account from Fast-Growing, Ultra-Motivated and Highly Dangerous CyberCrime Rings.’ He provides IT support and other solutions to customers in New Zealand, Australia and other countries through his Computer Support Company Limited based in Auckland.
Legal Disclaimer: The above article should be taken as general guidelines and not as specific advice. The work and other circumstances, use of computer equipment, the accessing tools and other methods vary and hence Vijay Nyayapati should be consulted as per his terms and fees by those in need of specific advice. He can be reached through his website www.csc.co.nz