Antivirus protection is a necessity for anyone who is digitally active. Cybercriminals, ever the opportunists, understand this need and have come up with yet another way to steal your cash – using malware that poses as antivirus software. This type of malicious software, known as “scareware,” often appears on a legitimate site as a pop-up ad claiming that your computer has been infected with a virus. The victim, scared (hence the name) of the potential damage, purchases and installs the “recommended” software. Consequently, the victim’s computer is infected with malware and/or his credit card information is in the hands of a cybercrook.
Even if you only visit legitimate sites, you can’t completely avoid scareware. Google and The New York Times’ website are just two examples of sites that have been exposed to fake security software. Adding to the difficulty of detecting this type of malware is the fact that scareware (also known as “rogueware” or “rogue security software”) will often appear as a message from the user’s own computer. Thanks to these aggressive tactics, thousands of people fall for these scams every day, allowing cybercriminals to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars.
To avoid falling for scareware scams, purchase top-notch antivirus software, such as PC Tools’ Spyware Doctor with Antivirus, and never click on any message with a different name. Also, install all updates to your operating system and make sure that all security patches are updated for your internet browser. If you think you’ve clicked on a scareware ad, run an antivirus scan immediately. Finally, if you’ve purchased rogue security software, call your credit card company to dispute the charge and, for your computer, take immediate steps to remove the fake product.
(Watch out! Currently, there are several rogues out to ambush computer users, so be sure to avoid Security Suite and Antivir Solution Pro–these are fake anti-spyware tools. If you’ve fallen victim to scareware, tell us in the comments.)