Routines. Think before you click.

Posted: December 26, 2011 in computers, Security, software, technology
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Routines.  In day-to-day life they can be good. Taking away some of the stresses by getting into routines can make life easier.  I always put my wallet, iPhone and keys in the same place at night for instance, that way they are easy to find in the always-in-a-rush-why-didn’t-i-get-up-earlier mornings.

But routines can also be dangerous in that we sometimes become lazy when it comes to our maintenance of our computers and devices when it comes to security.  Which can be especially bad this time of year as we find ourselves with a bit more time on our hands to spend with family and friends, the last thing you want is to find your trusty computer bogged down with nasty malware, adware, or the latest threat, Scareware.

What is scareware you may ask.  It’s those popups and emails you get telling you that you may already be infected and need to update or install a new program to protect yourself.  Always with a cost involved.  These warnings are coming at you from every side now it seems, social networking sites warning you, emails, website popups, etc. all trying to get you to drop your guard and install the problem that you are being warned you already have.  Another strain of these is fake antivirus.  Fake antivirus is fake security software which pretends to find dangerous security threats—such as viruses—on your computer. The initial scan is free, but if you want to clean up the fraudulently- reported “threats,” you need to pay.  Don’t be thinking if you run a Mac you are free of this threat either.  Its a growing market and Macs are becoming a lucrative part of it, possibly because most Mac users have gotten used to thinking they are immune.

Many times these scareware programs take you to fake scanning pages, which then give you fake results in an attempt to scare you into purchasing their software to remove the threats.  More often than not these threats are fake and you end up causing more problems if you download and install the supposed fix.

These scams can be found in numerous formats and flavors lately ranging from fake movie download pages prompting you to download a supposed codec you need to play the video, or Email Account suspension scams telling you that you need to provide information in order to remove the suspension.  I’ve seen a bunch of these of late, each time slightly different from the last, but regardless all fake.  Even some supposed “ecard” sites telling you that you received an electronic greeting card from someone.  Make sure you check the sending address of any ecard  you receive, because this is an especially effective way to get you to download a virus.

These tricky little buggers also like to hide in temporary areas on your Pc once installed and have the ability to create random file names, and recreate the infection if you don’t clear it out completely by hiding its own installer in another spot on your computer (typically  C:Documents and Settings<user>Local Settings Application Data, or c:windowstemp).

Sure, windows users are more easily targeted and have been the most widely affected, but don’t think because you use a Mac you are immune, that’s just not true anymore.  The more of us there are out there, the bigger a target market for the nerdowells who would rather take your money than make their own legitimately. It’s not going to go away, there is too much money being made from the unsuspecting, so it is best to protect yourself by keeping your antivirus updated, some of which have anti-spam built-in.  If yours doesn’t you should find a solution that does.

As it is often said, the best defense is a good offense.  Or an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Either way, what it boils down to is think before you click.  It only takes a second or two to check and make sure you are not just opening up a can or worms that is going to ruin your day, or your week & potentially destroy your personal data.

As Robert Bateman so aptly put it… “Creation is long and difficult, destruction is quick.”  So protect yourself and your data.  Scareware is one of those things that once you’ve made that one quick wrong click it can seem like forever undoing it.



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