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Scareware – Look before You Click

With the increased use of the Internet the FBI has become a very busy national security organization.  This is due to a new digital age of sophisticated criminals that are well versed in computer programming.  They use their skills to extort money from unsuspecting users and in other cases commit identity theft.  One of the primary ways they do this is by creating ‘scareware’

How Scareware Works

If you understand how cyber criminals operate then there is no need to be afraid of scareware.  First, let’s explain what scareware is and how it is used to scare you as the consumer into revealing your personal information.

If you use the Internet then without a doubt you have come across those infamous pop-ups that interrupt your browsing activity.  Although you deploy a pop-up blocker those annoying messages still seem to get around it.  The pop-up message claims that your computer has multiple infections and in order to get rid of the infections you must buy the full version to clean up your PC.

Scareware gets its name as such since it scares the unsuspecting user into revealing their credit card information.  Once you give out your credit card information it is sent to a website controlled by the cyber criminal and you are left burdened with a pop-up that won’t go away.

Look before You Click

 You have heard the old adage, “Look before you leap.”  The same rule applies to the Internet except “Look before you click.”  The thing is that most reputable companies will not notify you when your PC contains a virus by sending you a pop-up advertisement.  The truth is that the majority of the pop-ups you see are bogus and are attempts at committing unscrupulous acts on the consumer.  If you can remember this simple rule there is no need to be afraid of scareware.

So where are these Criminals Lurking Anyway?

 Unfortunately the Internet allows cyber criminals to hide anonymously at any location around the world.  They use a sophisticated technology known as a botnet to take control of computers around the globe.  A botnet can take control of any computer anywhere in the world for the purpose of committing a criminal act.

If your computer becomes part of a botnet it is known as a ‘zombie’ computer since it is being controlled for criminal use often without your knowledge.  The botnet is headed by the criminal who is also known as a ‘bot herder’ and is also the person that is profiting from the criminal act.  The bot herder could be located overseas while controlling computers located in the US or anywhere else in the world.  This why security organizations such as the FBI really have to dig deep into the Internet to catch these guys.

So why is Scareware a Global Business?

 Scareware is a global business because it takes place around the globe through the use of botnets.  A short while back the FBI finally nabbed a group of bot herders that scammed unsuspecting Internet users in over 50 countries out of more than one hundred million dollars.  The scammers succeeded by using scareware to solicit financial information while hiding behind the ‘zombie’ computers that were recruited for the botnet.  The profit came from selling bogus antivirus software through scareware pop-ups.

What to Do

Keep your PC well equipped and up to date with the latest virus and spyware definitions and use software from reputable sources such as McAfee, Norton, and Malwarebytes.  Have confidence that the antivirus and anti-malware program you are using will notify you if your computer is infected and not through a pop-up advertisement.

If you happen to encounter a bogus pop-up, close your browser and then reopen it.  If you click anywhere on the advertisement it could download harmful software onto your PC.  Always surf with caution and only visit websites that you trust. This is something that Thrive Networks can manage. Check out our page explaining our Managed Anti-virus & Anti-spyware services or contact us today!