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News

Tips on avoiding scareware

Lieberman Software : 02 November, 2009  (Technical Article)
Phil Lieberman from Lieberman Software provides some advice on avoiding scareware including fighting the temptation to downgrade to XP
Beating back scareware is a really tough challenge because scareware has the ability to pop-up from a web page using animated web pages that look nearly identical to a normal operating system dialogue.

1 Best suggestion is to upgrade to Windows Vista or Windows 7 (costs money). Both of these operating systems add additional gates for a user to go through before installing applications compared to Windows XP. If a user is considering a machine upgrade, the new operating systems would be included for free. DO NOT DOWNGRADE to Windows XP.

2 Turn off web pop-ups or use the block pop-ups feature in most browsers (free). Many of the scareware programs use pop-up windows to create the deception used to get users to click on web content to install it.

3 Before you click on a web page that tells you to do something, ask yourself the following question: "Why would a page pop-up telling me my machine is infected and I need to fix it." If a user has not already purchased software to protect their machine (most have not), who exactly is warning me? The correct answer is the operating system provided by Microsoft does have this ability, but criminals that run web sites to infect your system do.

4 As sad as it sounds, most users have inadequate training or experience to recognize scareware and will probably get infected (look at the gigantic botnets made up of machines infected via social engineering). Until the government mandates a drivers license for the Internet, a large number of home users and less than clever commercial users will find their machines being compromised by scareware and malware.

5 The good news is that Microsoft's new operating systems kill off most of the scareware and Microsoft is also providing a free basic anti-virus / anti-malware package for their users, so hopefully dumb users will shoot themselves in the foot less…even with the emphatic electronic urging of criminals telling them that that infecting their clean machines with infections (scareware) it is good from them (really good for the criminals).

6 The bottom line: don't install software unless you really know what you are doing, even if ordered to do so by the operating system (Windows). Who is the boss? You, not the machine.'
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