More on Fake Security Ads and Scareware

Trying to explain why and how fake security infiltrates my client’s computer is difficult. Instead of trying to explain it each and every time, which can be daunting, I am going to suggest this article as a reading assignment. If you use Microsoft Windows, and you want to minimize the possibility of becoming infected by this almost unstoppable force, you MUST read, digest and then put into practice the information found in this article. Much of the “hacking” you may have read or heard about recently could have been prevented IF the users/companies followed this advice.

In fact, no matter the operating system, learning about this information will keep you safer.

Social Engineering

The first thing to be aware of is the bad guys know how we think. Then they use our way of thinking against us by exploiting our proclivities, weaknesses, and tendencies. This is called social engineering. If you know you are being manipulated into doing something intentionally, hopefully that awareness alone will keep you a little safer. Here’s the Wikipedia article describing social engineering…a must read for any computer user.

One of the largest methods of social engineering bad guys will use is email. How many times have you heard (or said), “I never open email from people I don’t recognize.” Which in social engineering terms says, “I will always open email from people I know and open their attachments  and click their links.” Read more about this in my article specifically on this topic.

Bad guys also work the hardest where you are…and right now that means Facebook, Twitter, and popular searches. Facebook ads and links and even hacked friend’s accounts can get you into trouble. And popular event searches or topic searches like computer screensavers, wallpaper, royal wedding, Japan earthquake and more can often yield tainted results so be careful. This article from TechCrunch.com also illustrates this plague and is another must read.

Why do they do it?

Often, my clients will ask why these purveyors of mayhem do what they do. My usual answer compares these types of people to folks who vandalize property, rob banks, or mug people. I think the common denominator is money. These folks can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and more. Probably the best single article I’ve read in years on any subject covers this particular question extremely well. It comes from the brilliant writers at Wired Magazine. An interesting and important read for any computer user.

Addendum December 2011:  Wired Magazine published another article in October 2011 about Internet scammers and the immense amount of money they garner from willing participants with amazing ease.

How can I protect myself?

Reading, studying, and putting into practice the tips I provide for you on this very site. Seriously! Here are a few of the security related articles that will save you a lot of money, time, and frustration:

What do I do if I do get bit?

If you are unfortunate enough to come across one of these unscrupulous situations, the first thing to do is shut the computer off immediately. And by that, I mean do NOT click on anything on your screen. Reach down and hold the power button on your computer for 10-15 seconds to force it off (or unplug it from the wall). Take a few deep breaths to contain yourself, then follow these steps:

  1. Boot into Safe Mode
  2. Try System Restore
  3. If System Restore doesn’t work, try using some of the tools and steps I outline in this article describing what I do to rid a computer of these messes.
  4. If you are still having problems, shut the computer off and call a professional.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that no matter what security product you use or how much you pay for it, the ultimate security is being vigilant and aware of what you are clicking on before you click it.

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6 Comments

  1. Daniel April 27, 2011 Reply

    Great info! The scum that perpetrate this sort of thing are getting more and more clever. I got a call recently from a user who had downloaded and was preparing to install the “security” program that was going to “remove” a virus. It was a webpage that looked frighteningly like the Windows Explorer screen after opening My Computer … http://d.pr/rseA

    You may have covered this in one of your videos linked here, but I’ve been telling people that if they get a warning that tells them they’re machine is infected, it’s fake 99% of the time, and to take a minute, look and see if they’re actually on a webpage, and if so, power down and step away quickly.

    • Author
      Rick April 27, 2011 Reply

      Yep…I write and talk about his stuff all the time…one of my favorite soap boxes…just need more listeners! Crazy stuff!! Make sure to read the Wired article I’ve got linked in my post. Absolutely awesome article. Thanks Daniel!

  2. deltacraig May 14, 2011 Reply

    As you said, this does not apply to only Windows computers. My niece with her Mac got fooled by something called Mac Defender. Fortunately, I was able to help her get rid of this thing after doing a google search. We Mac users need to also be vigilant. Anyone out there using an anti-virus program for their Mac yet? I am thinking it is time to do so but do not know what to use. Of course Norton is out. I have heard good reports on Intego VirusBarrier. Anybody have experience with this or other Mac anti-virus programs?

  3. Bheki December 12, 2012 Reply

    There is Sophos for MAC, a free or paid anti-virus. Also, Eset NOD for the MAC. I have been very happy with NOD as it removed multiple threats from my pc a few days ago.

  4. www.hicasmachinery.com March 28, 2013 Reply

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for machinery auctions

  5. nik August 9, 2013 Reply

    some of the fake ads are like download now and play now buttons. this site displayed some of that http://www.nscoop.com/2013/08/fake-ads-and-internet-security-tips.html

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