What is Scareware? I’ve Been Hacked, Now What?

 

When you opened up your browser this morning did you get a pop-up stating that your computer has been compromised and infected with a virus or some other form of malware?What is scareware And on further reading, it states that you should download this software immediately to remove the problem before it does further damage. If so you’re now probably thinking oh s…t I have been hacked, and you are tempted to click on the link because you don’t want any harm coming to your device.

Well stop right there, don’t click on it, if you do you are going to be taken to a page telling you that you need to pay somewhere around twenty dollars or more to download the software that is going to take care of the problem for you.

Nope, not going to happen, you will be giving criminals your information like a credit card and phone number which they will use to call you up and pester you to buy more products to fix your computer. Now that you have given them your credit card information  for a  bogus program to fix a none existent problem, you are out your money and with that program, they have no doubt loaded real malware and possibly stole your identity. Well, this is scareware.

WHAT IS SCAREWARE?

Scareware is the name given to any type of computer program that tricks people into believing that their computer, Smartphone, laptop, etc, has been infected with malware and that in order to remove the threat to their system a special application must be purchased and used on the affected item(s). These applications are fake and serve no purpose other than to make money for the hackers who create them. The entire scam is devised only to frighten people into purchasing these useless, “rogue” applications; hence the name, “scareware”.

Where do they come from?

In the most common scareware trick, a pop-up will appear while you are on the internet warning that your computer is infected or that your device has contracted a virus. Most of the times these bogus pop-ups will appear if you access a website that has been compromised or if you click on a particular banner advertisement, as many of these are created solely for this purpose.

The idea is to then convince you to click on the part of the “warning” that offers a free scan of your device (also bogus) in order to detect the specific type of virus you are dealing with, and then to convince you to purchase the useless, fake antivirus software to “fix” the issue. The only thing that this will “remove” is your hard-earned money from your wallet.

They also have stoop to calling you on your home phone and will say that they are from MicrosoftWhat is scareware and have found there to be a problem of some sort with your computer. Once they have your attention they tell you that for X amount of money they can remotely fix the problem for you and update your software.

Again, this is bogus, Microsoft or any other company cannot tell how your device is working and would never call you in the first place. Don’t give them any information and demand they take your number off their calling list and hang up! So how do we avoid these from happening, well, continue reading and discover how  easy it is  🙂 .

 

HOW TO HANDLE A SCAREWARE ATTACK

If you encounter a scareware ad, do not click on any of the links that it contains. Your best move is to close out your browser window by pressing the “alt+f4” keys. Once you have closed your browser you should run a Malware Scanner to clean out the unwanted pop-up or “pup-potentially unwanted program”   You can visit my page on Malware where you will learn how to remove malware the correct way.

Most importantly, remember not to click on the link contained within the scareware ad that claims to make available a software program that will “repair” or remove the virus from your device, as it is not a legitimate protection or repair program. The entire thing is a scam, devised to “scare” you into making the purchase believing this will remove a threat that does not even exist.

Do not be tricked into installing any new “extensions” or “apps” onto your device that these ads may suggest or recommend. Nothing about the ad is real or can be trusted. Remember, this type of malware is created solely to get you to spend money unnecessarily, on a completely useless product. Don’t fall for it. Follow the steps outlined above to close out the window immediately.

 

HOW TO AVOID SCAREWARE

The easiest and most effective way to avoid a scareware attack is to make sure you never click on banner ads. If you see a subject contained in a banner ad that interests you, take the time to Google it and look for safe websites pertaining to that subject. If you inadvertently visit a website that has been compromised and you encounter scareware, simply follow the steps outlined in the paragraph above, and make a mental note to avoid that particular website in the future.

Above all, DO NOT fall for the scam by sending money to purchase one of these phony “repair” software programs. What is scarewareThese types of ads are trying to sell fake and completely useless software with the intent on cheating you out of your money.

If you have not already done so, protect your devices by investing in a very good, reputable antivirus program that will work on all of your devices. Make sure any of your existing antivirus programs are up-to-date so that they are able to handle any new viruses or threats, as hackers are working every day to create new and more sophisticated ways to invade your personal online space and hack into your private information.

You can block most of these pop-ups by going into the settings of your browser like in Google Chrome you would click on settings, then Show Advance Settings, Content Settings (under Privacy), then scroll down to Pop-ups and select Do not allow any site to show pop-ups. This will help stop most of them, but a few could get by.

Summing this up.

This is how identity theft and other crimes occur. While most scareware scams are just that – meant to scare you – some may actually have viruses attached that can affect or damage your files. At least with a trusted antivirus program, you will be better protected against such types of attack as long as you follow the key step, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CLICK ON, this will go long ways in avoiding Scareware and other forms of Malware.

I hope you have found this informative and useful, if you have, don’t forget to share this with others; you can help your friends and family to save their hard earned money.

Have you experienced any type of scareware? If so why not share your story with us, or just jump in and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you.

Kim

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About Author

Kim
Hello, my name is Kim and I am the owner of this site. I have been working with computers since they first became available to the public.I have built several computers over the years and enjoy helping others with their everyday computing. Should you have any questions about using your computer, or any other device, please leave me a note below in the comment section and I will be more than happy to help you out. Come back often for more tips and solutions to your every day computing.

8 Comments

  1. Pascal

    Hi Kim,
    it is crucial how hackers have no respect for innocent internet users. I totally agree that the best way is to ignorate such banners but sometimes they look so serious you might get tricked. I think the best solution would be to make an enlightenment and education for young kids and elder people. They might be the biggest group to get attacked. Your article is really helpful and points out how dangerous internet can be.

    Reply
    1. Kim (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Pascal, there are just too many people that are looking for the easy way to steal someone else’s money with no respect for others. I agree that the younger kids and the elder are the most prone to these attacks, as you mentioned sometimes these banners can look official and demand attention. Being educated is the top defence against these.

      Have a great day Pascal, and stay safe while on the internet!

      Kim

      Reply
  2. Jeff

    Hi Kvimont

    This was a well informed article on “Scareware”. I’ll be honest I really didn’t know what it was until I came across this so it has done its job! I also wast aware of the alt + f4 trick so that was also much appreciated. That may come in handy should I ever have to deal with scareware. All the best.

    Reply
    1. Kim (Post author)

      HI Jeff, For the most part the scareware will not let you close your browser by clicking the X in the upper right corner of your screen, so alt+f4 comes in handy to close your browser.

      From there I power the computer off and start it back up in safe mode and then run Malwarebytes, usually nothing is found, but it’s good practice to run malwarebytes if you suspect anything.

      I’m glad you found this useful, and thanks for stopping by!

      KIm

      Reply
  3. Jodes

    I have bumped into this sort of thing many times, I have been lucky though as usually the scare ware has the opposite effect and I get scared and madly close off the offending pop up. They can make it hard though and yes a simple browser close is usually the best option. Makes life hard for the rest of us doing the right thing when people get too scared to click on banner ads because of these slimeballs. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully it can save some people from a lot of heartache.

    Reply
    1. Kim (Post author)

      Hey Jodes, thanks for stopping by and commenting! I do the same thing when I come across them, I don’t even read the whole thing, just quickly close out my browser and run Malwarebytes.

      Maybe you’re right about the fact that some of the banners are actually legit and deserve more attention than they are getting due to these slimeballs as you call them.

      Which I agree they are slimeballs and the ones we really have to look out for are the ones with flashing warning lights and bells. Those are the ones that will do the most damage.

      Kim

      Reply
  4. George

    This is the first time I’ve heard of scareware. Does antivirus software detect when any type of scareware is trying to infiltrate your devices? If so does it have some kind of database that lists potential scareware or suppliers who distribute scareware?
    In your opinion what isn’t the best recommended antivirus software for any device?

    Reply
    1. Kim (Post author)

      Hello George, thank you for stopping by and commenting! Your antivirus software does not filter these types of attacks because they usually come from websites that are already infected with the malware. The only damage to your system is the annoying pop-up telling you that your system is infected and you need to download a specific software to repair your system.

      You can check out my article where I review the top 5 antivirus programs, and I’m kind of partial with Norton Security seeing that I have used it the most in all my years with computers. They have been around longer than most of the others.

      Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with,

      Kim

      Reply

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