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Beware of Virus Disguises

By DominicD
Virus, malware, and spyware programs have undergone a huge change since the days of Windows XP. The old notion of viruses being hidden and undetected inside your computer is now an old trend. The new virus and malware programs now charge into you upfront and disguise as legitimate software and websites. Beware of the common virus disguises, and know how to detect them even before your antivirus software alerts you.

The Fake Antivirus

Today’s viruses and malware pretend and trick you to believing that they are instead legitimate antivirus programs! Gone are the days when computer virus and scripts would be scared of the Antivirus. They have gone clever and now pretend to be your security companion. Do not be fooled by such programs, remember the indicators below:

First obvious indicator: While visting a website, a users is suddenly presented with a fake antivirus screen that says the computer is infected.

The second obvious indicator is urging the user to download the full antivirus product. It would say that only the full version can remove the supposed virus infection.

Do not be fooled into downloading new and self-proclaimed popular antivirus software. Ask in SysChat, legitimate security websites, and forums for antivirus advice. Download only the popular antivirus software – they all have free versions that actually protect, detect and remove real viruses. Any antivirus software that nags you about having to purchase the full version just to remove a recurring virus infection is probably the scheming virus itself!

The OK Button and Textbox Alert Virus

Taking its cue from the “Fake Antivirus”, the “OK Button and Textbox Alert” virus aims to play into our mannerisms of lazily clicking the OK and Yes buttons without actually reading the entire text. These types of decoy are usually difficult to be cautious with.

Alert Indicators:
The text alert would usually be a long paragraph saying a lot about the keywords: system, security, scan, download, install. On a gist, it would give you the impression about installing and updating your security. Normally, lazy readers would just opt to click the readily highlighted “YES” and “OK” buttons. Clicking the wrong button without reading entraps the user into permitting and literally welcoming the virus to enter the computer. If you are presented with such alert while browsing the web, read carefully. If options for clicking Yes/No/Ok are vague, simply ignore and close all your browser windows instead.

Fake Update Screens and Suspicious URLS

While your computer might actually be safe from resident viruses in your hard drive, there are some instances when actual internet networks and ISP’s are exploited by the virus creators. A technical example is the hacking of a DNS server that redirects your browsing location to suspicious URLS. This DNS exploit could direct specific or all internet browsing to a suspicious URL that warns you of an essential update to your browser or operating system.

Be cautious of the URL that is displayed in the address bar. Legitimate updates to your software will always show a familiar and SSL Secured lock icon with the URL. When in doubt, visit directly the website of your program that needs update.

The Social Network Virus

While you may now be fully aware of Email spam, be careful for Social Network spam and viruses. Viruses and malware triumph in mass spreading at social networks – Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.

Any advertisement or blog/wall post that presents something too good to be true and free on a social network is highly suspicious. Posts that maybe out of character hinting of money making, nudity, or public scare is best verified with your friends through personal message or im. Do not hope to simply peek at the link and close it immediately in case its something scary or offensive. A virus needs just that small time frame to infiltrate your computer. Of course, do not repost/re-tweet suspicious links – this is how online scams and fraud spread in social networks.

Fake Emails from Social Networks and Contacts

If you do not have a Twitter account, then all emails alerts about friends following and sharing your tweets is definitely a scam and a virus trap. Fake email alerts about Facebook and Twitter are very common. They are usually caught and sent to the email spam folder. In case some emails might escape to your inbox, inspect the sender’s address. Notice that the sender’s name might imitate Facebook or Twitter servers, but then notice the sender’s actual email address. It is usually a different and unfamiliar URL.

The second most obvious indicator is the recipient field. Most likely, the email itself is addressed to an address different from yours!. As always, do not open unsolicited emails and attachments. Confirm suspected emails by replying to it and confirming from the sender.

The Pirated Software and Download Virus

Remember that free software is free according to the author’s conditions. Paid and commercial software may have time/feature limited trials versions. You need to purchase software licenses to continue using paid/commercial software. False promises of a free and pirated software download often leads a painful and more expensive virus infection. File Sharing, P2P and torrent downloads or illegal commercial software is always taken with the caveat security risk.

Viruses and malware can be integrated within the pirated installer programs. Do not think of taking your chances with temporarily disabling your antivirus program and install the software. Again the virus laden installer needs just that quick moment to infect your system. The use of pirated and illegal commercial software not only harms the software market, but also risks you and your business for criminal offenses.

The Ransomware Virus

Ransomware is a clever malware and exploit at the user’s intial reaction of panic when faced with a computer virus. Ransomware threatens you that your files will be locked/deleted unless you follow the hackers instructions to purchase a certain product or send money to his bank account.

Do not be persuaded by their threats. Research on Google with the keyword “ransomware” and the error/threat message that shows on your screen. Chances are, an already available fix is made for that particular type of ransomware.

Prevention is always better than cure
  1. Have a popular and trusted antivirus program installed on your computer
  2. Always update your antivirus program – let the update run automatically, and do a manual update at least once a day.
  3. When in doubt over suspicious programs – ask and do not install.
  4. Unsolicited email and social networking spam is best verified with the sender.
  5. Do not forward/repost or re-tweet suspicious messages
  6. Take time to read alerts and program notices
  7. Remember that there are a lot of free and trusted antivirus programs, security forums like Syschat, security websites and organizations that will gladly help you incase of a suspected virus infection. In most cases, you do not need to pay in cash for virus removal and troubleshooting instructions

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