Viruses and malware pose a real threat to our computers – but it’s a threat that’s also played on by scammers whose only interest is profiting from people’s fears. In this article, we’re looking at how you can spot ‘scareware’ and avoid telephone scams.
What is Scareware?
Scareware is a type of software that’s built to look just like a genuine anti-virus program. The scareware works by displaying an alarming pop-up message – often telling you that your computer’s infected. Clicking on the message will typically take you to a website where you’ll be prompted to ‘upgrade’ your program – for a price.
The idea is, once you’ve paid for the upgrade, the ‘anti-virus’ will be able to clean the ‘infection’ from your system; the reality is that the ‘infection’ doesn’t exist – in fact, the only thing that’s really infected your computer is the scareware itself. The aim of all this is simply to scare unwary computer users into parting with their hard-earned cash – and all for a useless program that won’t provide any real protection.
How Does Scareware Infect a Computer?
Sometimes, it can be hard to identify how your computer became infected with scareware in the first place. There’s a chance it may have been disguised as an innocent email attachment, or hidden within another program you downloaded.
We can also be caught out by pop-up ads generated by sites we visit online – these are often made to look like the warnings that Windows or web browsers like Chrome sometimes display. An ad like this may show a message such as: ‘Your computer is infected – Clean Now’ – again, clicking this ad will lead to a page where you’ll be prompted to part with your money.
How to Identify Telephone Scams
A similar type of scam starts with a phone call. The caller will usually pretend to be calling from a respectable company (often an internet-service provider like BT, or occasionally Microsoft). He or she will probably claim that viruses are being spread via your home’s internet connection. Then you’ll be promised that they can fix the problem if you give them remote access to your computer.
If you were to follow through with this, the caller would give you detailed instructions on how to set your computer up to allow them access. Usually, the scammers have 2 main aims in mind – the first is simply to make you believe that they’re cleaning the virus infection (and then to charge you for the service once they’ve finished).
The second aim is the more dangerous one – because once you’ve given the scammer remote access to your computer, they have the power to view all your data, or even install real malware. This could include anything from a hidden Bitcoin miner (which will run constantly in the background and slow down your computer), right through to a keystroke logger (which will record every word you type – user-names and passwords included).
Have You Been Caught Out?
It’s easy to protect yourself by becoming familiar with the way that scareware looks and behaves, and learning the tactics used by tele-scammers. But, if scareware has already infected your computer, or if you’ve given scammers remote access, then it’s time to get your computer thoroughly checked over by a professional.
Barnsley Virus Removal Services
We perform professional virus removal in Barnsley. We can either check your system over and simply remove any viruses we find, or you can opt for our fixed-price computer servicing (which includes removal of any infections, along with a number of other checks and tune-ups to ensure your computer’s running at its very best).