In the past year, we’ve seen a huge increase in Malware that tries to fool people into calling some kind of fake technical support company, to clean up the malware/infection that was detected on their PC.  Much of this is launched by ads or links on a variety of Social Media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and also on infected web sites that are themselves legitimate.  We call this Drive By Malware, because you don’t actually have to DO anything to pick up the infection – simply being on that web page is enough.

Some very basic things to look out for:

No Anti Virus Program, Windows System, or Web Site monitor will ask you to call a number to talk to Tech Support – especially when the message says it’s the ONLY way to clear the big WARNING screen that seems to have your PC locked up.  These are 100% scams, designed to take your credit card information and money.  NEVER CALL THESE NUMBERS.

Any pop-up message about malware, viruses or system malfunction that will not leave your screen, or let you get to other programs, is most likely a malware program trying to fool you into doing something that will harm your computer or your bank account.  TRY TURNING OFF YOUR PC WITHOUT CLICKING ANYTHING ON THE MESSAGE – MOST TIMES, THIS CLEARS THE MESSAGE.  DO NOT CLICK ON ANYTHING ON THAT POP UP WINDOW.

One Florida company that was recently prosecuted for running this type of scam, managed to defraud over 100,000 people, stealing over $25 MILLION in the space of 6 months.  The typical target for these scams is a person over 50 years old, in a middle-to-high income bracket, who has some kind of online shopping profile, especially through Facebook, Google, or Yahoo.

Ways to Protect Yourself:

Keep your system and anti-virus program up to date.  Make sure monthly Windows Updates are installed, and that your anti-virus program is getting updates automatically.

Use a program like Malware Bytes (free) to check for malware or adware on your machine – running this check monthly is recommended.

Don’t store Credit Card or Bank information on web sites, phones, etc. – while it makes shopping easier, it also makes getting your credit card or bank account stolen more likely.

Use complex passwords (random characters, numbers, other characters, at least 8 total) and change those at every 3-6 months.  Use DIFFERENT passwords for your various financial web sites (Bank, Credit Card, Paypal, etc.).  Using a string of letters and numbers that represents a phrase (like T2cypUR$ for Time To (2) Change Your Password You (U) Are (R) Money ($)) is a simple way to randomize your password, while still making it easy to remember.

Check your Bank Statements, Credit Card statements, Credit Reports on a regular basis – sometimes you’ll find that someone is using your accounts, or even opening new accounts in your name – it’s a good way to head off Identity Theft, and prevent financial issues.

If you aren’t using your Laptop, PC, or web-connected Game System – TURN IT OFF.  This simple step not only saves electricity, it makes your systems harder to hack.

When in doubt – if the PC is acting weird, working too slowly, etc. – contact a trusted tech-savvy person to help you.  If you don’t know anyone like that – Call us!

The FocIS Group

440-779-3816 Help Desk