Scamware, Crimeware, Fake Anti-Virus - the latest scourge!
Recently we've seen a huge rise in the number of calls we get that relate to some kind of scam software, be it fake anti-virus or some other 'tune up' software. It's far from a new problem but it is one that seems to be increasing exponentially just now, so we've decided to give our clients a few pointers that might help you avoid falling victim to a scam.
The first and most important rule of all is get, use and maintain GENUINE anti-virus software. There are many options out there, from commercial packages you can pick up in your local computer store through to free offerings from the likes of Avast, AVG and others. We recommend Avast but feel free to choose whichever suits you, the important part is that you get one and keep it updated!
Secondly, if your web browser has a 'Safe Browsing' function (most modern browsers do) make sure it's turned on. The vast majority of scam software is installed by malicious code hidden on websites - the Safe Browsing feature helps prevent you mistakenly visiting sites known to be malicious.
- For Internet Explorer 9, click the toolis icon (or press Alt & X together), go to Saftey and click 'Turn On Smart Screen Filter'
- For Firefox, you'll find full instructions here - http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/phishing-protection/
- Opera & Google Chrome ship with safe browsing switched on by default, so if you are using either of those then you don't normally need to do anything.
Third, don't discard common sense just beacuse you're on the internet! Just as in everyday life, things which seem too good to be true very often ARE too good to be true! Before you download that seemingly wonderful piece of free stuff think about who made it and why. There are many good producers of free software, equally there are many people abusing the word 'free' to encourage the unwary to download potentially harmful software. Do your research, look for recommendations, reviews, feedback from other users - good free software almost invariably has a community of dedicated users ready to sing it's praises.
Lastly, if you do get hit with a scam DON'T PANIC. Most scamware actually does very little damage (although it is exceptionally annoying) and is relativly easy to remove. If you have an anti-virus utility installed, try booting into safe mode (that will usually stop the scamware from running) and doing a full scan of your PC - in a lot of cases that will allow your anti-virus to remove the scam for you. If it doesn't, give us a call and we'll be happy to help.