Monday, 19 July 2010

Why that computer virus might not be what you think it is

I know, a very long winded title, but very much to the point, as you will see.

Did you know that clicking the 'X' button on the pop up from and internet site could cost you £50? Well, you'll sure know about it when you get scammed that way.

I was sitting at my laptop when a Windows bubble popped up on the bottom, right of my screen saying that my computer was infected.

There were two things that I noted during my complete shock at having a virus:
1. That I already had an antivirus that was working fine, which should have stopped it from contaminating the computer.
2. That I didn't recognise the antivirus software that had discovered this virus (or these many viruses, as I later found out).

I did what any sane person would do. I tried to scan my computer with the antivirus that I knew I had installed. Nothing. According the 'windows' it could not be opened as it was infected.

The scan from the unknown antivirus kicked in and I was forced to watch as it found several files that were at risk or critical. I even saw a couple of trojan's. I couldn't believe it. My other software must have been rubbish. The unknown antivirus prompted me to buy their full version, as their trial version did not get rid of the viruses.

I tried the internet next, to see if there was any way to get a free antivirus that would actually work. No such luck. Apparently a file that was meant to open it was infected. Funny though, that the website of the full mystery antivirus program was the only website I could get to. I deigned not to give any money to them.

So, my mum and I took it to a professional, and he took one look at it and told us that my laptop didn't have a virus.

In fact, what it was, was a very clever scam; a fake antivirus that you unwittingly download onto your computer. For example, you are on Facebook and you click on a link to something (a video maybe) that is meant to be hilarious. But there's a catch. To see the video, you have to downlaod something. You click 'X'/ Cancel.

But clever Mr programmer has other ideas. He's programmed both 'X' and 'Cancel' to actually mean yes and you download your unwanted file anyway. But it's not what you thought it was. It's an evil fake antivirus. In a few minutes, hours, or maybe the next time you turn on your computer, it will kick in a nd tel lyou that your computer is infected.

Unfortunately for you, if you believe it, chances are that the offer of buying the full, virus beating version of the one that may have saved your precious documents from being wiped, is a very welcome one.

The probelm is, the software you download for your hard earned cash doesn't actually do what it is supposed to. Some people will go back and pay more money, some people will take their computer to a professional at this point. But it's too late. They already have your bank details, your identity, and a bit of your money. Bummer.

My top tips to prevent this freom happening to you are partially what our professional said, and some common sense thrown in for good measure:

1. Get Firefox. It doesn't allow those kind of sites to get to your screen as it doesn't use ActiveX controls.

2. Instead of pressing 'X' or 'Cancel' to get rid of your risky pop up, press ctrl, Alt and Del at the same time and close the browser from there.

3. If you don't recognise the program, don't give it money. Especially if you alread yahve one that is supposed to do exactly the same thing.

4. Talk to a professional if you're not sure about anything, you may not completely know what's going on.

And before I go, a bit more advice: If anyone calls to tell you that your computer has a virus and that they can sort it out (yes, even microsoft), ask yourself 'how do they know'? Chances are, they're trying to scam you.

1 comment:

  1. Some very good advice. I think we have all been caught out by something like this in the past and making others aware of these scams is the only way to stop it.

    I was caught out by a friend on an instant messenger supposedly giving me a link to a "funny video" only to find out it was a virus. Next thing I knew my profile was sending that link to people under the guise of innocence. I very promptly told everyone about the scam so it didn't spread.

    Knowing is half the battle :)