That was a Close One!

by Pepper on February 3, 2011

At my day job I hear all the time about people getting computer viruses from “fakeware”, an on-screen warning that pretends to be your security system, when in fact it IS the virus. You click on it, thinking you are telling it to quarantine the virus, but you are really now installing the virus. I always assumed the imposter software would be easy to spot, and that anyone who fell for this trick just wasn’t paying attention, but I was mistaken.

This morning I was on Yahoo, perusing what was “trending”, and I clicked on a photo of a popular TV star with his wife. Suddenly my screen began flashing: warning, warning, red letters everywhere. When things calmed down, I was looking at a screen that looked just like Microsoft Security Essentials — and even said Microsoft Security Essentials — warning me that I had multiple trojans and other nefarious infections being held at bay. Did I want to quarantine or delete them? I almost fell for it. But there was something in the language on the page — and I wish I had copied it down — that didn’t read quite right. The writer in me thought that the folks at Microsoft needed to hire a better editor!  And that thought led me to consult with my live-in computer guru.

Lucky me that I have my own hunky computer guy. He told me in no uncertain terms that to click “yes” was to download the beast. Instead, I turned the computer off right from that page and then ran a complete scan. No infections detected. Whew!

But that doesn’t mean I’m in the clear. A “rootkit” still may have been installed. My computer guy will have to run a more sophisticated scan to see if I have one, lurking in the registry of my little Toshiba. I really hope not. Cleaning up after a rootkit is disruptive and inconvenient, and means I’m without my computer for at least a day or two.

Anyway, my apologies to folks I’ve judged harshly for clicking on this fakeware. It really was very convincing.

-Pepper

“Let’s read something spicy!”

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