What is Scareware?
Scareware is a term that is used to describe fake software that misleads people into believing that their computers are infected with viruses, spyware or other forms of malware, and presents them with an option to pay for a tool to remove it. Recently, scareware has evolved to trick people into believing that errors on their hard disks have erased important files, and offers to recover the data for a fee.
The reality is, however, that the file downloaded is usually harmful and is often used by criminals to earn money and to gather private information – including the credit card details that you provided to pay for the software.
Symantec, one of the worlds leading security software vendors, recently revealed that they estimated that a staggering 43 million people fell victim to such scams in a little over a year.
How to Recognise Scareware?
Scareware software is actually reasonably easy to spot, because the “scare” factor is part of the sales method. Typically, a sudden warning notice often in the form of a pop-up window will appear, that warns you that your computer security has been breached or a problem has occurred with your computer. The pop-up windows are often very cleverly designed to look similar to a legitimate providers website, so don’t be fooled.
The pop-up window may have an X in the top corner, a cancel button, or something similar that implies you can close the window and not download the software. Unfortunately, if you click anywhere on the pop-up window you will be directed to the fake website, or the download may even start automatically.
How to Protect Yourself from Scareware
The best form of defence is awareness of the risks Scareware presents, and adopting some simple best practices to protect your computer. Often you’ll find that once you click on a window, the criminals behind these scams start to target your computer more often, so it’s best to make sure that you understand how to effectively protect yourself.
Following these important steps will considerably reduce your risk of falling victim to Scareware:
- Become naturally wary of any pop-up window that appears on your PC
- Do not perform “free” security scans offered by any website.
- Make it a practice not to click on any links within pop-up windows or other alerts.
- Never click on the pop-up window or the alert, even the “X” or “Close” buttons.
- If you’re faced with any of the warning signs of a Scareware scam shutdown your web browser or turn off your PC.
- To close the alert window, press CTRL-ALT-DEL and close the browser using Task Manager.
- Never visit suspicious websites.
If you would like to find out more about how Solsis can help your business, simply call one of our technology consultants on 01344 401548.