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Computer viruses can afflict both PCs and Apple machines. Their main purpose is to extort money from computer users. They do not commonly delete user files, though some do. Viruses can block a computer’s internet connection, disable email clients (such as Outlook, Mail, Windows Live Mail, etc.), inject spam advertisements into the computer’s web browser (Internet Explorer, Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari), make user files inaccessible, and lock users out of the computer entirely. Viruses have been known to commandeer a user’s email in order to spread themselves to contacts, such as friends, family, business customers and associates.

Viruses are intelligent programs made by intelligent people. Many are designed to take a computer hostage in order to extort money from it’s owner in the form of a ransom. They are orchestrated by fully fledged illegal business, often located in countries outside of US jurisdiction, such as Siberia to Amsterdam.

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These programs will commonly pose as helpful protection software, showing distressing warnings of “multiple high risk threats”. The program will then either repeatedly prompt to “upgrade to full/pro version” of this fake protection or contact a call center; which will then push for remote access to the computer and further payments.

Watch out for fake virus alerts

Rogue security software, also known as "scareware," is software that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective but provides limited or no security, generates erroneous or misleading alerts, or attempts to lure users into participating in fraudulent transactions.

How does rogue security software get on my computer?

Rogue security software designers create legitimate looking pop-up windows that advertise security update software. These windows might appear on your screen while you surf the web. The "updates" or "alerts" in the pop-up windows call for you to take some sort of action, such as clicking to install the software, accept recommended updates, or remove unwanted viruses or spyware. When you click, the rogue security software downloads to your computer. Rogue security software might also appear in the list of search results when you are searching for trustworthy antispyware software, so it is important to protect your computer.

What does rogue security software do?

Rogue security software might report a virus, even though your computer is actually clean. The software might also fail to report viruses when your computer is infected. Inversely, sometimes, when you download rogue security software, it will install a virus or other malicious software on your computer so that the software has something to detect.

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Some rogue security software might also:

Rogue security software might also attempt to spoof the Microsoft security update process. Here's an example of rogue security software that's disguised as a Microsoft alert but that doesn't come from Microsoft.

This is an example of a warning from a rogue security program known as the FBI virus.

Examples of what rogue security software does:

  • Lures you into a fraudulent transaction (for example, upgrading to a non-existent paid version of a program)
  • Use social engineering to steal your personal information
  • Install malware that can go undetected as it steals your data
  • Launch pop-up windows with false or misleading alerts
  • Slow your computer or corrupt files
  • Disable Windows updates or disable updates to legitimate antivirus software
  • Prevent you from visiting antivirus vendor websites
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Example of an older warning from a rogue security program known as AntivirusXP.

For more information about this threat, including analysis, prevention and recovery, see the Trojan:Win32/Antivirusxp entry in the Microsoft Malware Protection Center encyclopedia. Here is the legitimate Microsoft Windows Security Center: Screenshot of legitimate Microsoft Windows Security Center.

To help protect yourself from rogue security software:

  • Install a firewall and keep it turned on.
  • Use automatic updating to keep your operating system and software up to date.
  • Install antivirus and antispyware software such and keep it updated. For real protection we can help.
  • If your antivirus software does not include antispyware software, you should install a separate antispyware program and keep it updated. Use caution when you click links in email or on social networking websites.
  • Use a standard user account instead of an administrator account.
  • Familiarize yourself with common phishing scams.

If you think you might have rogue security software on your computer:

Scan your computer. Use your antivirus software or do a free scan with the Microsoft Safety Scanner. The safety scanner checks for and removes viruses, eliminates junk on your hard drive, and improves your PC's performance.

Check your accounts. If you think you might have entered sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or passwords into a pop-up window or at a rogue security software site, you should monitor your associated accounts. For additional information, see Email and web scams: How to help protect yourself.

If you suspect that your computer is infected with rogue security software that is currently not detected we can help.

If you already have a virus and need help getting it out of your machine contact us here at Belltech. It isn’t just install a program and scan for removal.

Removing today’s virus software is difficult. The first thing a virus does is shut down any security programs you may have and some will even hide all of your documents, pictures, even your entire desktop. If this happens to you, stop using the machine and bring it to Belltech or call if you need assistance with getting the machine to the shop.

Belltech Computer Solutions can ensure full removal of all viruses, spyware, malware, trojans, worms, scareware, and other malicious threats.

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