What are Scareware Attacks?
Pop-up ads are certainly a nuisance that most people have gotten used to, and the automatic reaction for such ads is usually closing them. However, there are ads that are intended to frighten people into taking action that will hurt them which are known as Scareware Attacks. If you use a computer or other similar devices regularly, you need to get familiar with Scareware Attacks and how they may affect you.
What is Scareware?
As the name suggests, Scareware is a trick that is intended to frighten people into taking action. For instance, common scareware attacks notify users that there is offensive pornographic material on their computer or that their computer and personal data have been exposed. To "fix" these issues, the scareware pop-up ad will require the user to install a protective software or to remove harmful material for a fee.
This scareware attack makes people pay for an unnecessary service and give out their contact and credit card information that the scammers can later use.
How to Recognize Scareware Attacks?
Getting a message that you and your personal information could be at risk can be scary, but you need to avoid clicking such ads. You can recognize Scareware Attacks by noticing the signs that indicate that certain ads are fraudulent:
- The ad contains a phone number: legitimate software security providers do not list their phone number on ads and they do not ask clients to call them. If you still think that the ad may be legitimate, you can Google the phone number or perform a reverse phone number search with GoLookUp to discover the true origin of the phone number.
- Grammatical errors: scammers may be sophisticated, but they often make up ads that contain mistakes; grammatical or punctuation errors, typos, and misspellings are common in scareware attacks, so pay attention to how pop-up ads are written and spelled.
- The requirement to pay with unusual payment methods: hopefully, you will not get to the payment stage when an ad claims that you are at risk. But if you do and you are required to pay with a gift card, a money transfer, bitcoin, or similar means, it is a scam.
- The scan is too quick: a legitimate and professional computer scan takes more than an hour to complete, so if your computer is scanned quicker than it, it is a scam.
How to Protect Yourself from Scareware Attacks?
Aside from knowing the signs of Scareware Attacks, it is vital to know how to protect yourself from such attacks that could lead to future damages:
1. Do not click on ads – if you get a pop-up message telling you that your computer is at risk, do not click on it. Do not follow links and do not provide your credit card or personal information to any agency that is unfamiliar to you.
3. Do not click on anything in the ads – one smart tactic used by Scareware Attack scammers is putting an X button on ads that lead to another window or installs malware on your devices. So, if you see an exit button or similar buttons in pop-up ads, do not click them. Instead, locate the item that popped up on your taskbar, right-click in the mouse or pad, and click "close"/exit the browser by clicking " Ctrl+Alt+Delete"/turn of the device and restart it/run antivirus software.
4. Install a pop-up blocker – you can install a pop-up blocker that only allows pop-up ads from websites that you authorized. Use a legitimate pop-up blocker and make sure to update it from time to time so it will keep blocking Scareware Attack ads and other dangerous ads.
A Scareware Attack can be very risky, and it uses scare tactics to get people to click on harmful ads. While getting a message that you are at risk can be frightening, it is not as scary as having your identity and personal information stolen. So, be familiar with the Scareware Attacks tactics and protect yourself from real danger.