Scareware: What is it?
With Halloween drawing near, we are all thinking about scary stuff….Windows 8, and viruses, and identity theft….oh my.
A good percentage of the virus infections that we see in the shop, are those which scare people into thinking that the program itself cure to a virus infection.
Yes, I am speaking of “scareware”.
Scareware, is basically any software that uses a sort of social engineering to frighten the computer user into purchasing fraudulent software to remove a host of viruses and spyware, that aren’t actually present on your system. The fake anti-virus is actually your main concern. The software itself can be very complicated to remove, and often tricks consumers into purchasing a full version that won’t actually help anything.
Some famous ones are: WinXPAntiVirus Pro, Live Security Platinum, and SpySheriff.
I have recently seen these programs go so far as to provide “customer service” over the phone, if the user enters their telephone number. Most, will give you the option to purchase the program, so that all of the listed infections can be removed. If purchased, the problem may even stop occurring for a few days, but will inevitably return.
Tell-Tale Signs of Scareware
So how do you determine if you have scareware on your system? There are a few tell-tale signs of these infections that you can keep an eye out for.
First and foremost: If you did not download and install this program on your own, then you need to take stock of how in the world it got on your system. Viable programs do not just show up on your computer on their own terms.
Second Step: This applies to most problems that occur on computer systems. GOOGLE IT, GOOGLE IT, GOOGLE IT!!!!! If you have no idea of what something is on your system, just look it up. There is a really good chance that someone else in the world has ran into this program before, and may even have a fix for it. Sometimes, these malicious programs include really detailed logos, and may even use unlicensed Windows icons. Just take a second, on another system, and Google the name of the program.
A third sign that your system has scareware, would be the giant, flashing list of viruses that it reports on your system, (see in the above picture). Most actual virus programs will not draw so much graphic attention to themselves, and frankly, will not typically find this much stuff. So if your “Anti-Virus” is working a little too hard to get your attention…..beware.
Another sure sign is that this program keeps popping up, and will not go away. Most will open on start-up, and continuously open as you use your computer. Some will interrupt the task that you are in the middle of, and some will prevent your system from working correctly all together. Scarware can prevent internet connection, and disable windows explorer, so that you can’t open any other programs. This is where Safe Mode comes in handy, but that is another blog, another day.
To end this article, I would mainly want to put my emphasis on not giving your credit card number, or other information out before you know what you are buying and from whom. Always do your research! That is what the internet is actually for.
If all else fails, give your local computer technician a call, and ask them about it.
Sevierville – Store Manager