Most of us in this digital age have been at this point, or probably will get to it at some time: A virus infected computer. However viruses have evolved with the computers they infect, which means they are trickier to spot and is it is harder not to fall for the scam.
One of the tricks viruses play on you nowadays is the Fake Antivirus. Basically what happens is a window pops up, runs a scan on your computer and starts to list serious infections you have. Once its done it gives you some options on what to do with these infections, which usually result in it telling you that your antivirus has expired or something like that and you need to buy the full version or extend your subscription for anything from $40 to $100 (may vary, that’s just the ones I have seen). It will also star blocking you from your web browser and other programs so you cant even use the computer anymore.
THIS IS A SCAM! The idea is to get your credit card information or at the very least scam you out of some money, the virus will not go away and your left at the exact same spot as before.
But how do I know if its real or not?
Here are some examples of what those fake Antivirus programs can look like:
Just be aware that’s by far not all of them. As you can tell most of them actually look fairly legitimate. The days of bright flashy popups with annoying messages are pretty much over. It used to be easy to spot viruses like that when they were still made by some hacker in a basement to prove he can do it. However nowadays it is a huge business to scam you out of your money or identity so they try to make these things look very real with some convincing sounding antivirus names. And since most of those virus manufactueres are sitting somewhere overseas where there really isnt any laws against this sort of thing its very hard to police as well, so if you get scammed its very unlikely anyone will get caught.
What can I do to protect myself?
First things first: Get a decent antivirus (AV) program and be familiar with it. Some of the more popular ones include Norton, Mcafee, AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira Antivir or Avast (read our article here on which one to chose). Which ever one you may have make sure you open it and make yourself familiar with it. Run some scans, browse through the settings and run updates if available. If anything scans your computer and it doesn’t look like the AV software you installed, do not enter any information and try to avoid clicking on anything.
Also make sure you know what type of antivirus program you have. AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials and Avast for example all have free subscriptions that do not charge you anything. Avast and AVG however will ask you occationally if you want to purchase their paid subscriptions so be aware of that. If you have paid programs like Norton or Kaspersky make sure you are aware of when you bought the subscription and when it runs out. Generally they are good for a year so if you bought it in November of 2010, they will bug you around now to buy their newest version, so write down somewhere when your AV software expires.
If you think you might be infected but are not sure, feel free to contact us.
But I have Antivirus programs, I should be protected from those, right?
Unfortunately no. Most AV software (free or paid versions) will only give you a better fighting chance of not getting infected. There are thousands of people out there that write viruses all over the world and only a few antivirus companies to combat them. Every day there is new viruses and better versions of old ones coming out that attack certain security holes that neither the computer manufacturer nor the software companies are aware of. So basically at any time there is viruses out there that you are not protected against until the AV software manufacturer finds a way to combat them.
Another important thing to be aware of: It is easier to trick you than your computer. What that means is that most viruses do not target your computer specifically, but you as a user. You need to be aware of what you can click on and what not. You can get viruses anywhere, not just adult websites or hacker forums.
Removing these viruses can be pretty tricky and time consuming. Most of the time the virus will disable the AV program you have installed so you can’t even run any scans. For most people at this point it is too late and you will have to bring it into a repair shop to get the virus removed which can be pretty expensive (if they charge you over $100 go somewhere else).
For questions or comments drop us a line below or contact us.