One of the many perks of being a member of the Blogging community is, it allows me to have direct contact with a great many other Internet users; many more than I would have to opportunity to communicate with, in any other way.
One of the benefits is the real issues that other users are dealing with come to my attention quickly; the positive experiences and, it seems more and more, the negative issues that affect Internet users.
In the last few months, I’m sure that regular readers of my articles, and there are some 80,000+ subscribers on my BlogSpot site, have realized, that I have written a number of articles concerning rogue security software. Here’s why.
There seems to be an epidemic of rogue security software on the Internet at the moment; much of it using social engineering to convince users’ to download an unsafe product. Frequently, after installation of this type of software on a system, an attempt is made to force users to pay for removal of nonexistent malware.
As well, the installation of such malware invariable leads to a critically disabled PC, or in the worst case scenario, allows hackers access to important personal and financial information.
So what does this mean to real people? Let me share with you the following factual stories on the impact that rogue software has on people, brought to my attention by the very people who have been victimized:
Victim #1 – What do you do if you were duped into buying the XP Antivirus software? Should I take any precautions such as canceling credit card and/or email passwords etc.? Is my home edition of avast! 4.8 Antivirus enough to keep me safe from bogus and/or rogue software???? Please help…my computer is my life! Thank you.
Victim #2 – I unfortunately fell for the “virus attack” after trying to remove it, gave in and bought the XPAntivirus. They charged me not only for what I had bought but charged me again, $ 78.83 for something which I hadn’t ordered, nor ever received. It was a nightmare trying to get in touch with anybody, and I finally connected with a guy with an accent, who told me to E-mail the billing service re: my problem. I wrote them tried to call, it’s been a week, and they still won’t contact me to clarify what occurred. I printed off a purchase order from them when I bought the XP which verifies what I received. Anybody know what state their in, I’ll notify the states attorneys office. These people are crooks.
Both of these people have been responded to privately.
If you are a new computer user or relatively inexperienced on the Internet then the following recommendations are for you.
A good partial solution to the problem is to ensure you have installed, and are running, an anti-malware application such as ThreatFire 3, free from PC Tools. This type of program operates using heuristics, or behavioral analysis, to identify newer threats.
As well, Malwarebytes, a reliable anti-malware company has created a free application, RogueRemover to help you remove rogue software and to help keep you safe and secure.
An absolute necessity is to make sure that any security application you are considering installing is recognized as legitimate by industry experts. An excellent web site that will keep you in the loop, and advise you what products work and have a deserved reputation for quality performance is Spyware Warrior.
A further resource worth noting is the Bleeping Computer web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software.
The following recommendations are repeated particularly for new or inexperienced users.
What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue security software.
- Be careful in downloading freeware or shareware programs. Spyware is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download this type of program only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, http://www.download.com/ or sites that you know to be safe.
- Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications.
- Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is Web of Trust, an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.
- Do not click on unsolicited invitations to download software of any kind.
Additional precautions you can take to protect your computer system:
- When surfing the web: Stop. Think. Click
- Don’t open unknown email attachments
- Don’t run programs of unknown origin
- Disable hidden filename extensions
- Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched
- Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use
- Disable scripting features in email programs
- Make regular backups of critical data
- Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised
- Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.
- Install a personal firewall on the computer.
- Install anti-virus/anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet
- Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments