Saturday, June 19, 2010

What is Rogue Antivirus?

Most of us have seen it. Suddenly, your computer starts popping up messages saying “You’ve been infected, scan your computer now to clean the infection.” Then, you click “OK” and you’re inundated with never ending pop-ups that keep you from working. This software is known as rogue antivirus, scareware or just malware. The object is to get you to send them some money and they will “clean” your computer. Of course, all they’re really doing is stopping their software from popping up those messages. Last year, these scammers made over $150 million by scaring people into sending them money.

The problem has become epidemic. Almost everyone who comes into our store has experienced the problem. Unfortunately, because these programs are not actually viruses, the anti-virus programs don’t stop them. There really isn’t much you can do other than be vigilant and avoid clicking “OK” or “Cancel” when the message first appears. Quite often, clicking “Cancel” will get the same result as clicking “OK.” I recommend clicking the Close icon (the red “X”) in the upper-right corner of the window.
If you should become infected by one of these programs, don’t panic. It is not a virus and, for the most part*, won’t cause you to lose any of your information or spread to other computers on your network. It may, however, open you up to viruses which can cause other problems. In almost all cases the software can be removed without too much trouble. Just bring your computer, as soon as possible, to someone qualified to remove the program.
*There is a new generation of this software that can lock or encrypt files on your computer.

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