Practical Technology

for practical people.

Scareware gets Scarier


There I was doing some research on a story, well actually looking for the latest Dr. Who episode, when I was presented with a message that my computer might be infected by a virus and it was being scanned. Yeah. Right. This was on one of my Linux desktops and it’s no more likely to get a virus than my Pittsburgh Steelers are to win the Super owl this season.

What was actually happening was that I’d stumbled over a site trying to scam me into buying, at best, bogus anti-virus software, and, at worse, infect me with malware and steal my credit-card information. I’m not the only one. The U.S. Government’s Internet Crime Complaint Center just reported that this kind of scareware is getting to be a lot more common. Indeed, the “FBI is aware of an estimated loss to victims in excess of $150 million.”

I strongly suspect far more money has been lost than that. These fake virus warnings are very hard to get rid of once they appear on a Windows PC. If you try any of the usual ways to close a program or window nothing is likely to happen. Your only sure way of escaping from one is to re-boot your computer. What a pain!

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