There’s an increasingly common method that hackers use to install malware (e.g., virus, Trojan Horse, adware, key logger, etc.) onto your PC, with your help. Malware distributors hack commonly accessed and unsecure websites and plant a hidden script on the site, which is subsequently downloaded by your browser (mostly Internet Explorer, sometimes Firefox) without your knowledge. When you open your browser, you see a warning that your PC is infected with malware. Most people think that their PC’s own anti-malware software is giving the warning, but it’s actually a website created by the hackers.
When the website opens – it gives you one or more warning messages that your PC has been infected, and then tells you to run the software which supposedly removes the malware. If you click on it, the opposite of removal occurs. The file that you are tricked into installing and running is the malware itself. By clicking on it, you are giving it permission to install it on your PC. In some cases, the hackers are peddling anti-malware software themselves so they trick you into believing that their software is the only one that can remove the bogus malware. Never buy from these people.
Your best defense is to have good anti-malware software installed on your computer and keep it up to date. Also, it is essential that you run regular Microsoft Windows security updates. If you receive an unfamiliar malware message on your PC or in your browser, just close all your browser windows and run a full system scan using your anti-malware software.
You should know exactly what kind or brand of anti-malware software your PC is running, so you can recognize whether the warning message is legitimate or not. If you don’t know what anti-malware software you are running, or don’t know if your computer is being kept up to date, then ask your information technology person. Most importantly, be skeptical of any unfamiliar malware warning; merely clicking on it could trigger installation of the malware. Don’t be afraid to ask someone more knowledgeable about these things if you’re not sure what to do.
May 8, 2009 at 10:47 AM
Very good advice, it’s so easy to get “taken” nowdays with things that seem very legit on the surface.
May 8, 2009 at 11:13 AM
You’re right Michelle. Thanks for your feedback!
March 27, 2010 at 10:28 AM
I go one step further and do CTRL-ALT-DEL when one of these bogus malware messages pops up. This closes the browser window and I hope does not allow whatever nastiness to run on my computer.