Scareware & Technical Support Scams

Scareware - Virus WarningAccording to Wikipedia, scareware “is a form of malicious software that uses social engineering to cause shock, anxiety, or the perception of a threat in order to manipulate users into buying unwanted software.”

Frequently encountered tactics include web pages and incessant pop-ups suggesting that the user’s computer is infected with a virus. Often they are designed to look like an official system dialog and can use text-to-speech describing that the device is infected with virus or malware. These pop-ups can occur via web browser on one’s computer or mobile device.

The malicious solution offered is usually technical support via toll-free number or a virus removal service / download. These convincing alerts are generated by the offending page and not your operating system as the perpetrators would have you believe. They are designed with an element of shock & awe in mind.

Scareware alert emulating system dialog.Beware of any page or pop-up that suggests you install:

  • A browser plug-in or extension
  • Multi-media codecs and updates
  • Malware-scanning tools
  • Remote access clients

Further, beware of any page that provides unsolicited tech support:

These technical support scams are designed to elicit personal details, account credentials, or trick the user into installing remote access clients or other examples from the previous list.

What to do?

The best response is no response. Do not follow the instructions. If you suspect foul-play, close your browser immediately. Force quit or reset, if necessary. Upon reopening your browser, navigate to your browser preferences / options, then clear your history and check your default search page. Finally, ensure you are using the most up-to-date browser, software, and operating system possible.

And, as always, feel free to give us a call.

Further Reading: