Recently the FBI announced the arrest of an international ring of cyber criminals involved in producing “scareware”, fake anti-virus pop ups that convinces the user to pay for a bogus service to get rid of a malicious program – some charging as much as $129.
Through “Operation Trident Tribunal” involving authorities from twelve countries including Canada, Germany, Ukraine, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, two types of scareware scams were interrupted. One investigation managed out of the Seattle FBI office involved pop ups which directed folks to fake anti-virus websites to collect money for non-existent services. The other investigation by the Minneapolis FBI office involved criminals who used on-line advertising scams (known as “malvertising”) to infect computers of reputable firms like a newspaper, whose visitors would then be infected by their scareware programs after visiting their site.
Jason Taylor is a malware expert at Professional Computer Services in Roseville and Granite Bay.
“Many of my clients bring their computers in because of scareware infections,” Taylor said, “Once you are infected, it takes over your computer.”
In response to this threat, the FBI alert encourages folks to have an Internet security program running at all times. And while this is a first line of defense, it is not a panacea. Users also need to beware of using free applications and programs. According to Taylor, scareware are the products of “Trojan horses”, maleware that is downloaded with the user’s permission often from using free sites (like social media such as MySpace and Facebook) and clicking on a video or an image.
“By the time you are experiencing these types of pop-ups that warn you about a virus and encourage you to keep clicking to give your credit card so the problem will go away, you are infected; the problem will only get worse the longer the Trojan horse is allowed to stay,” Taylor said.
Ideally you want your children to be savvy and avoid downloading malware. To avoid giving permission to malware do not click on any link unless you can read the URL displayed at left hand side bottom of your browser by hovering over the attachment. If the URL looks suspicious, don’t click it.
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