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Scareware takes phishing and malware to the next level. It can be threatening and dangerous. Scareware tries to trick the user into taking an action. The action might be clicking on a link or attachment, calling a support number or, in some cases, telling the user that if they take an action to close the pop up window or restart their computer that they will be subject to an infection.

Forms of scareware:

  • A pop-up that resembles legitimate system messages warning you that you have a large number of infected files and prompting you to purchase software to fix the issues. These are also known as ‘fake alerts.’
  • An email that contains threatening messages and demands bitcoin payment in order to stop the impending threat.
  • Malware that takes over your desktop background by displaying a warning screen of a virus alert.

What should you do if you encounter one of these forms of scareware?

  • For suspicious pop-ups just right click on the item in the taskbar and close it.
  • Close the browser window. Ctrl+Alt+Del to launch the Task Manager window and then end the process.
  • Reboot your computer
  • Run anti-virus software.
  • Run a second scan with different software (ie. Malwarebytes, SUPERAntiSpyware)

How can you protect yourself from scareware?

  • Install anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date
  • Don’t click on anything
  • Install a pop-up blocker
  • Don’t shell out the money for the ‘fake’ security software
  • Change your browsing habits. Use secure browsers and keep them up-to-date. (ie. Edge, Chrome, Firefox)
  • Don’t allow remote access or uninstall your anti-virus software
  • If the message is an email, delete it
  • Don’t click on anything
  • How to avoid scareware and remove it

Email examples: Oldies that are making the rounds again this year

The Hitman email scam – (Appearing in a lot of higher ed institutions)

Ransomware email scam from ‘hitman’ demands: pay up or die

Full text of threatening email sent to LAUSD

Categories: Cyber Security

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