Halloween is a time for scary ghouls and goblins, but watch out for the scareware lurking around your computer. Like trick and treaters hiding behind fake masks, scareware hides behind a fake façade to trick you into loading it onto your computer.
Malevolent individuals write malware designed to look like an anti-malware product. In other words, when you think you are downloading something to protect your computer, you’re possibly downloading something that will damage it, instead.
Scareware is becoming more and more prevalent, like the growing hoards of little children that come knocking on your door begging for candy. Also known as rogue security software, these programs aren’t cute little costumed kids that mean no harm. They are implemented by cyber criminals.
The rogue security program usually appears as a popup that warns you that your PC is infected with malware [ironic isn’t it?]. They offer to alleviate your concerns if you purchase a fake security software, which itself is malware in disguise. Many programs are made to look like legitimate, known name brands, intentionally meant to mislead you.
You can unknowingly acquire such malware by clicking on a link in a search result or by clicking on an ad on a social network site. A typographical error when entering a URL might, also, take you to an untrustworthy site. Queries regarding popular hot topics can lure you to an illegitimate web site.
Malware can come to you via a professional looking website that appears to be that of a legitimate company. Gone are the days of quick, down-and-dirty attempts to fool you. Today’s cyber criminals are sophisticated.
Make sure the application you use actually supports features they claim to manufacture - use proven vendors
There are ways to protect yourself. You can avoid being caught in their web [pardon the pun] by not paying for a program that installed itself on your computer. This is a typical ploy of rogue software. Don’t fall for pop-ups that warn you that your system is already infected and offer you a product to clean the “problem” from your system.
Purchase anti-virus, anti-spyware, and a firewall for your PC and for your mobile device, from legitimate sites, or off the shelf from your trusted retail store. Then, if you get a fake security alert, you can be assured that your computer is already properly protected. If in doubt, go to a forum and ask experts.
Popular and well known companies offer solutions. For example, Lavasoft has several helpful overviews related to the scareware problems and products to protect you. Norton from Symantec and McAfee make a living protecting your PC. However even the ‘good guys’ have had their share of invasions. BTW – use your own discretion in trusting suggested links. No one is infallible.
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