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Originating from Neighbourhood Watch Communities in the Stafford District 

Fake Anti Virus Software

Trading Standards Officers are urging PC users to be wary of the growing problem of fake Anti Virus ("fake AV") products distributed online.

cartoon computer with ice pack on top of the monitor Often distributed using fictitious ‘security alert/warning' pop-ups or advertisements, they use scare tactics to dupe users into believing their computers are infected with viruses or other malware. Usually pretending to scan the PC before reporting non-existent threats, they typically prompt users to download and install antivirus software.

However, the fake AV software is actually malware that will likely compromise the security of the PC and the user's personal information, or will generate annoying and intrusive alerts until a payment is made.

Over the past year, web security experts have seen a huge growth in such attacks, with variants growing from less than 1000 to over half a million. Many of the fake alerts appear very plausible, making use of familiar-looking operating system security messages and imagery.

Officers advise users to be vigilant and to protect themselves using reputable, regularly updated security software, and to ensure they are familiar with its operation and alerting methods.

Users should be highly suspicious of any security warning messages that have not originated from the antivirus software currently installed on their PC and should not accept any unsolicited offers to scan their PC for malware. cartoon of a computer chasing a boy

Users should verify any warning messages by initiating security scans from within their own antivirus software.

No genuine security warning will ask users to download and install any antivirus software.

Effective online security is crucial, and in addition to running up-to-date anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software, users should ensure their operating systems are kept fully patched by installing published security updates promptly. Internet Explorer 6 users should upgrade their browsers without delay.

cartoon of a man working at a keyboard Even the best security software cannot protect against gullibility and ignorance, however, and must be supported by caution, user commonsense and awareness of Internet-based threats.

For this reason, officers advise PC users to read up on online security via https://www.getsafeonline.org/.

Further information about Staffordshire Neighbourhood Watch can be obtained by telephoning Staffordshire Police on 0300-123-44-55 or by visiting the OWL web-site at www.owl.co.uk






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