It sure has been hopping here at the shop lately! You folks have been tearing up your computers almost as fast as we can fix ‘em. Although I certainly appreciate the contributions to my personal geekonomic stimulus package, I’m sure it is a little beyond frustrating for you.
One of the axioms in my industry is that computer security is only as good as the loose nut behind the keyboard. No matter how much security software we install on your computers, many of you will still fall for some really goofy scams. I’m not claiming to be above being scammed. I’ve fallen for them before. But some of the more recent scams really make me wonder how people can be so gullible. An ounce of education is worth a pound of cure so let’s examining a couple of recent scams, shall we?
The first is a scam that, upon visiting an infected website, a message will pop up that reads, “Uncertified antivirus software detected on your computer. You need to remove (your antivirus) software for correct operation of the Antivirus," It goes on to say, “Attention: If you don't remove (your antivirus) software, the performance of your computer will dramatically degrade. Press 'OK' to remove (your antivirus software).”
If you get this message, it’s too late. No matter what you do, the software will uninstall your old antivirus and install a new fake antivirus in its place. To prove that your computer is really infected, it will display some stuff that would make Hugh Heffner blush and constantly bug you pay for the fake software so it can remove the stuff.
The other scam is a variation of an old Facebook scam similar to the one that made me literally dozens of dollars earlier this summer. The way it works was outlined in a recent PC World article that I’ll summarize here: “You see a link to a Facebook page for ‘10 Funny T-Shirt Fails’ or something similar. Once you arrive on the page, a message tells you that you have to go through Facebook's new three-step verification process in order to see the content.
On the second step, you are asked to click the "Next" button, and that's where the scam really begins. That's because the "Next" button isn’t really a disguised “Share” button. So what you are actually doing is “sharing” the scam with all of your Facebook friends. The whole point is to get you to the third step where you fill out a “survey” that asks you to provide your personal information to enter a contest to win money, a computer, or other prizes. The survey then asks for your cell phone number. Way down in the survey's fine print it says providing your information will sign you up for "The Awesome Test" text messaging service that will add $5.00 per WEEK to your cell phone bill.
My advice? Well, until we find a way to install “skepticism” into your computer AND your brains, the scammer will continue to take advantage of our gullibility.