Being a member of the Blogging community has a major upside. It allows me to have direct contact with a great many other Internet users; many more than I would have the opportunity to communicate with, in any other way.
One of the benefits is the real life issues that other users are dealing with, come to my attention quickly. Overwhelmingly, these issues and experiences are positive, but given the current state of Internet security the negative issues that affect Internet users are an unavoidably part of the package.
Over the last year or so, I have written 40 or more articles concerning rogue security software. Here’s why.
There is 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 rogue security application.
Rogue security software uses malware, or malicious tools, to advertise or install itself on an unaware user’s computer. After installation, false positives; fake or false malware detection warnings in a computer scan, is the primary method used to convince the unlucky user to purchase the product.
After all, a dialogue box that states “WARNING! Your computer is infected with spyware! – Buy [XYZ] to remove it!” is a powerful motivator. Clicking on the OK button takes the user to the product download site.
To make matters worst, the installation of rogue security software frequently 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; people like you and me? 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 – “Unfortunately I 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”.
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, 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.
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, 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