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8

WebsiteCompass

How to defend yourself against scammers who send phony

(but frightening) messages

Internet Connections

Take the Scare Out of Scareware

C

yber criminals are as smart as they

are wicked, and they’ve discovered

yet another way to fool innocent people.

Fake alerts and popup messages called

scareware are showing up on computers

and mobile devices around the globe.

Scareware is a particularly underhanded

form of malware that causes fraudulent

warning messages to pop up on your

screen. These messages tell you something

is wrong, or something bad is about to

happen, and that you must immediately

take a specific action to make it stop.

Other names for this virus include “fraud-

ware” and “rogue scanner software.” But

no matter what you call it, those phony

messages can be terrifying.

What Scareware Looks Like

Scareware messages come in all shapes

and sizes. Some messages display alarming

security warnings demanding immediate

action, while some present more innocent-

looking messages that simply prompt you

to click “OK” to dismiss.

Examples include:

• An unfamiliar message that tells you

your computer is infected, and you

must download certain software in

order to remove the infection

• A privacy violation warning with a

large button prompting you to return

to a safe website

• A popup alert that says your credit

rating has been jeopardized, and you

need to pay for a service to restore it

• A message that pops up and covers the

page on your mobile device browser

with text such as “Cannot open

page” — yet when you click the “OK”

button, the popup reappears, making

your browser unusable

Sometimes the popups look harmless. In

many cases, though, the popup appears