Has this ever happened to you? You are browsing online when a pop-up ad appears on your screen warning you that your computer is infected with dozens of viruses.
The ad says that you can remove them by buying antivirus software that will immediately eliminate them – and certain versions are designed to disable legitimate security software, making it challenging to remove the illegitimate software. If you have seen this, you have been hit with a scareware attack directed to get you to buy a fake anti-virus software.
What is a “fake antivirus”? It is a software that masquerades as a legitimate antivirus software that supposedly detects and eliminates viruses and other malware. Fake virus alerts are spread mostly on the Internet.
The most common way people get scammed into installing fake antivirus software is through an alarming antivirus pop-up window appearing in their browser, claiming that their computer has been infected by something bad and that they need to take immediate action and ‘click here’ – or words to that effect.
The tactic preys on people’s insecurity, especially those who are less tech-savvy. The scam is based on scaring you that your PC is riddled with viruses and malware. That is why the text of these pop-up ads usually contains dire warnings that your computer is infected with hundreds of viruses. To make their warnings seem even scarier, many of these scareware pop-ups will seemingly start scanning your computer for viruses, displaying a list of the dozens or hundreds of viruses they claim to be uncovering. However, scareware programmes are not really scanning your computer. The results they are showing are fake. The scam is designed to target your behaviour – mainly by frightening you and make you lower your level of rational thinking – and to nudge you to buy the fake anti-virus.
We encourage you to print for this Infographic for your own use as well as to place as a poster at your place of work. As always we thank the e-Skills Malta Foundation for the Infographic and their contribution to the ĠEMMA tips.
If you believe that you have uncovered a scam or you were the target victim of one, ĠEMMA advises you to report this. Do not let the scammer get away with it. Remember that there are vulnerable people who may not have the knowledge you have and may be at a high risk of being scammed unless the scam is stopped.
Contact the Malta Police Force’s Cyber Crime Unit as follows:
Telephone: +356 2294 2231/2.
In person: Call or visit any Police District station and lodge a report. The District Police Officer will request the assistance of a member from the Cyber Crime Unit as required