Chicago, IL-October 8, 2009 - Computer experts are warning consumers and businesses that scareware - appropriately named in time for Halloween – is another technique used by hackers to steal personal information and spread viruses online. Most recently, companies like Google, Twitter and the New York Times have been exploited by hackers as part of massive scareware attacks. The Better Business Bureau is offering advice on how to protect personal and business information from the threat of scareware.
When a scareware attack occurs, a message pops up that looks like it comes from one’s own computer warning that their computer had been infected with a virus. The user was then told to visit another site to purchase and download anti-virus software that would fix the problem. The supposed antivirus software actually installed even more viruses and malware onto the computer — and the user’s credit card number was now in the hands of computer hackers.
“The recent scareware attacks are popping up everywhere and can be found on even the most trusted websites online,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.
According to Computer World Magazine, hackers are not only using pop up ads, they are also “poisoning Google search results.” Hackers monitor the news and hot topics online — such as the death of Patrick Swayze and the US Open — and through search engine optimization techniques are able to ensure that their Web sites are the top results. Victims who click on the fake search results receive a scareware pop up.
“The threat of scareware undermines consumer trust in compromised Web sites, and on the internet in general, but there are steps computer users can take to protect themselves,” added Bernas.
The following are helpful tips for protecting your computer from a scareware attack:
Never let your guard down. A scareware attack can happen on trusted news sites like the New York Times, in search engines results from Google, and even now on Twitter.
Protect your computer. Install updates to your operating system, purchase antivirus software from a name you trust and keep that software up to date. Also make sure that all security patches and updates are installed for your Web browser and programs like Adobe Flash Player.
Take immediate action during an attack. If you receive a scareware pop up window, experts recommend forcing the window to close through your task manager. To do this, hold down ctrl, alt, and delete at the same time, open your task manager, find the browser in the list of running programs and click “end task.” Finally, run an antivirus scan with legitimate, trusted software. For more advice on fighting off hackers and staying safe online, visit www.bbb.org