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Fake Anti Virus Software Warning – how to identify and avoid.


Originating from Neighbourhood Watch
Communities in the Stafford District 

Fake Anti Virus

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 monitorOften 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 keyboardEven 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

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