Byte Me Article 131 – Beware ‘virus’ offers of help as often fake

Beware ‘Virus’ Offers of Help as Often Fake

You are happily browsing the Internet and all of a sudden your computer is telling you that you have viruses – a screen has popped up, it looks authentic, it may even be doing a scan or listing files that are already infected.  This same screen will promise you a quick fix and future virus free bliss – is there a catch?

Yes, you are already a victim of a phishing email or Internet Spam.  If the screen that you have in front of you is not your normal virus scanner then it is a hoax, offering a hollow promise and it is the start of further problems itself.  These are also often referred to as a Trojan horse and are an alert that has been designed to play on your worries or stress you into reacting quickly and downloading further files to complete the scan – these files would then be a real virus which will make your PC do all manner of weird things and render it mostly useless – further forcing you to accept their “great” offer.  It will even tell you that it has found the source of the viruses on your PC and that you simply need to purchase their product online to complete the virus removal process.

This is what they are after – your money!  So how do you avoid these problems?  First and foremost – have a good virus scanner installed and up-to-date.  We use and recommend Trend Micro Internet Security for standalone PC’s.  Next – don’t let anyone else use your PC on the Internet unsupervised – I hear regular stories about house guests, the friends of your kids or your relative that is staying for a week totally wreaking havoc on your PC because they were careless while on the Internet.  Also keep your PC patched with the latest Microsoft critical updates and patches.

2013-06-29 Byte Me Article 131 - Dodging viruses

Even with all of these things in place you may still get confronted with one of these hoaxes and the key is not to panic and not to click on any of the buttons on the screen – not even the cancel button as its background programming can simply mean that this is the same as clicking on the accept button.  So use the red X at the top right side of the screen and if this doesn’t work tell your PC to restart – even while the hoax message is still on the screen.  You can also consider simply unplugging your internet connection to give you more time to phone an IT specialist or just think about what is happening for a bit.

If the same message is still appearing after a restart then you probably have a simple Trojan which your IT company can easily remove – however if you accept it and download more files to “fix the PC” then you will have a very bad, persistent and hard to remove virus. 

Kerr Solutions (now open Saturday mornings).

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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