Friday, March 13, 2009

Tips to identify fake anti-virus software scams

This topic is about a sting that's growing very fast and that you really need to be alert of: how fake virus removal software and spyware removal software is being used by scammers and identity thieves in many cunning ways.

Scammers, identity thieves and hackers have grown more complicated. Today, some cyber-criminals are selling -- or giving away -- software that supposedly fights viruses, spyware and malware.

In fact, their "rogue software" often doesn't work, or actually infects your computer with the dodgy programs it is supposed to protect against!

In this issue, we tell you how to differentiate between useless -- or even malicious -- security software and the real deal. And we'll explain why you need to be cautious about closing or deleting these alerts, even when you know they're fake.

Fake Virus Scam Tactics
Fake virus alerts are usually generated by a Trojan -- a program that takes control of your computer -- after you open an email attachment, click on a pop-up advertisement or visit a particular website. (Adult sites are special favorites.)

If you run programs that provide file-sharing information -- including some instant messenger (IM) applications -- your computer might be remotely accessed by scammers, hackers and identity thieves.

Sometimes, the Trojan creates "false positive" readings, making you think viruses and spyware have infected your computer, even though nothing has. In other cases, scam software actually implants malicious code into your computer, especially if you request a "free virus scan."
In other words, some peddlers of fake anti-virus software actually design the viruses, spyware and malware that their software is supposed to detect!

What to Look For Rogue Spyware
Rogue anti-virus/spyware programs often generate more "alerts" than the software made by reputable companies.
You may be bombarded with pop-ups, even when you're not online.
High-pressure sales copy will try to convince you to buy RIGHT NOW!
If you've been infected, your computer may dramatically slow down.
Other signs of infection include: new desktop icons; new wallpaper, or having your default homepage redirected to another site.

Fake Anti Virus Prevention Tips
1. Keep your computer updated with the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and be sure to use a good firewall.
2. Never open an email attachment unless you are POSITIVE about the source.
3. Do NOT click on any pop-up that advertises anti-virus or anti-spyware software, especially a program promising to provide every feature known to mankind. (Also remember: the fakes often mimic well-known brands such as Grisoft AVG, Norton and McAfee.)
4. If a virus alert appears on your screen, do NOT touch it. Don't use your mouse to get rid of or scan for viruses, and DON'T use your mouse to close the window. Instead, hit control + alt + delete to view a list of programs currently running. Delete the "rogue" from the list of running programs, and call your computer maker's phone or online tech support service to learn if you can safely use your computer.
5. Do not download freeware or shareware unless you know it's from a reputable source.
6. Avoid questionable websites. Some sites may automatically download malicious software onto your computer.
7. Reset your current security settings to a higher level.
8. Although fake software may closely resemble the real thing, it's rarely an exact match. Look for suspicious discrepancies.

If your computer is infected by rogue software, stop work and don't keep using the computer. This may further damage your machine and provide identity thieves with more information about you.

Related Search
Spyware Master Sentenced
Computer Virus Removal
How To Catch A Computer Virus
How To Protect Your Computer From Online Attacks

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