Don’t React ; Instead, Respond

It may not have happened to you yet, but if not, it probably will before long.

You’re at your computer, happily browsing known and reputable websites, when suddenly – as if from nowhere – your screen becomes a mass of warning flashes and exclamation marks telling you your precious machine is infected with all sorts of nasty viruses, worms, and other creepy crawlies, burrowing their way into your hard drive.

These webpages are cleverly designed to mimic the Windows OS screens you see when you click on “My Documents”, or “Control Panel”, or similar.

Before continuing, let me say this: if you are using your computer on the internet without reputable anti-virus software installed, then you deserve to get taken for a ride by the latest batch of “scareware” scammers presently polluting the worldwide web.

If you do have antivirus software and get hit in the manner described above, the first rule is not to panic. That’s exactly what these scum want you to do. In a state of panic, human beings react, and the first reaction is “Oh, my God, how do I get rid of these?” At which point a helpful banner will appear on your screen inviting you to a website with software for you to download that will deal with the plague of infections ostensibly bugging your machine.

DO NOT GO THERE. You will be drawn into paying around $50 for software that does nothing. After all, there’s really nothing for it to do, except persuade you to part with your hard-earned cash. No viruses, no worms, no creepy-crawlies.

The golden rule in situations like this, is: don’t react ; instead, respond.

First, check in the very top-left of the page. Is this really a Windows OS screen, or is Internet Explorer, or some other browser icon, still telling you it’s a webpage? Almost certainly, it is a webpage cleverly disguised as an OS screen.

At this point, “X” out of the page, and any banners, instructions, or other devices still littering your screen, and note which webpage you were perusing when this intrusion occurred.

In my case it was the TimesOnline.com.

Finally, use your own anti-virus software to run a full system scan on your machine. Having done so, (you’ll almost certainly be given a clean bill of health) sit back and congratulate yourself on not falling for this latest ruse developed by the scumbags of the internet.

Because their victims react, rather than respond, these scum are netting around $10,000 a day.[1]

[1] “‘Scareware’ scams trick searchers” BBC, March 23rd 2009

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5 Replies to “Don’t React ; Instead, Respond

  1. This is not a new scam; I got caught by one of those in 2001 – only this one was attached to an .exe file – it started downloading (or doing a very good imitation of downloading) when I hit the big red cross… So my response was to pull the plug out of the wall 🙂 No viruses for me!

  2. Jo – yes, these latest ones are a bit more sophisticated, but basically only a modification of the one you describe. Pulling the plug was a nice response.

  3. Pulling the plug from the wall is my usual response to any suddenly/unexpecctedly encountered “problem”.

    In over 95% of cases, whatever the “problem” was, it is immediately “forgotten” by my puter because it’s not had time to “save” it.

  4. TOB – this latest scam is designed to stop you pulling the plug immediately, by virtue of being so cleverly designed to look like a Windows OS page. It really does look genuine.

    I agree, though, cutting the power should prevent most cyberspace invasions.

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