Last week I wrote an article about Ransomware, and only a few days later, another person shared an example of how their university was experiencing a ransomware attack. But, this time I would like to write about a different concept when it comes to online security and hacking, and it is scareware.
Scareware might not be as well-known as ransomware, but you are more likely to have met it. In fact, you might know what it is, you just didn't know that it is called scareware. So, let's get to it - what is scareware?
What is scareware?
Have you ever visited a website and seen a pop-up message telling you that your computer has been affected by a virus? Or maybe the popup tells you that your computer is at risk and you need to take quick action. What should you do?
The pop-up window, which is designed to look very similar to a message from either your virus program or your operating system, will encourage you to install some program or pay money to fix the trouble. If you install the recommended software, that is when the real problem will actually start. The same is true if you pay for some "wannabe" solution. When you install programs, actual malicious software, spyware, viruses, ransomware, and who knows what might be installed on your computer. If you give them your payment details, your money might be at risk.
In other words, scareware is only something that is supposed to make you scared. And when you get scared, you do stupid things... like clicking on the banners, paying for spyware, malware, and other apps harmful to your device.
How do the pop-ups come up in the first place?
You might wonder how the pop-ups show up? Google is frequently looking for such harmful ads, and that is why I have actually received warnings from Google Webmaster Tools when my sites have been infected with similar things. In my case, it wasn't about scareware, but about automatic redirects valid for mobile users and so on.
But, hackers are good at adding code to websites, and by doing so, they can make pop-ups show up at sites you would normally trust and not worry about. This is important! Scareware can actually show up at sites you trust if they have been attacked. And the worst thing is, they might not even know about it themselves.
Example of scareware - Source
Articles can also be a kind of scareware
So far I have only written about scareware presented to you as pop-ups. That is, by far, the most dangerous version. But, it can also be important to understand that articles can be used to make you scared.
Did you feel pain in your stomach today?
You do a quick Google search to find out what might be wrong, and you end up finding a website telling you that you for sure have a problem due to drinking too much coffee, and the only solution is to buy this super-pill RIGHT NOW... if not, you will for sure die soon!
The example might be an exaggeration, but it is also a kind of scareware. It is carrying you into taking stupid actions that might harm your device or your wallet.
When you are scared, you do irrational things... like paying for stupid software and clicking links you shouldn't click. That is why scareware is efficient and something most of us have met once or many times.
What to do when you get scared?
Have you seen a scary pop-up? Are you afraid that your computer might be infected? Don't click the pop-ups... NEVER EVER! Go to your normal antivirus program and do a scan of your device. Use a spyware/malware detector if you have such a program installed. But, do not under any circumstances click the banners and install programs or pay for a solution. That is only going to make things worse!
I hope this article will help you stay alert in the future if you should be threatened by some scareware. Stay calm, and remember this article!
If you have questions, or maybe have some experience with scareware that you would like to share, write a comment below. If you haven't been to this platform before, register a user (it might seem a bit complicated at first), and write your first comment. It is super-cool, and you can actually earn money publishing your own content and commenting on the platform. Sound cool, doesn't it?
This is an original article written by me for Project Hope! First published on Steemit