Information Technology Blog

How to Protect Yourself Against Fake Antivirus Programs

Fake antivirus programs are one of the most commonly encountered threats on the web today. In order to protect yourself from this threat, you need to understand what they are, where you find them, how you can avoid getting them and how you can remove them if you become infected.

What are fake antivirus programs?

Fake antivirus programs use social engineering to trick users into visiting malicious sites, and scare them into paying for fake threat removal tools. You might see a “free initial scan,” but if you want to clean up the reported threats that are found on your system, you will be asked to pay.

Obviously, this business model is popular among cybercriminals because it is a revenue source. Opposed to other viruses and password stealers, this type of scam gets users to hand money (typically around $120 per transaction) directly to the malware author.

How do I know I've been infected?

Fake antivirus programs can look and feel very different, and typically look and feel like legit antivirus programs that are being installed to help you out – so beware of where you’re clicking. These fake antivirus programs use social engineering techniques to get installed, such as:

  • Fake Windows Security Updates
  • Fake Virus-Total Pages
  • Fake Facebook Apps
  • 9/11 Scans
  • Pop-up Warnings
  • Fake Scans

And, as we said before, they sometimes look very professional, giving the illusion of legitimacy, such as:

  • Security Shield
  • Windows XP Recovery
  • Security Defender
  • Antimalware Tool
  • MacDefender
  • And many more…

How do people get infected with fake antivirus programs?

Social engineering and trickery. Typically you’re fooled into running the fake antivirus installer. And, new social engineering tricks are popping up all the time. These scammers find you by using:

  • Search results – Using “black hat SEO” tricks, these malware pros ensure their infected sites are found high in the rankings for some search terms.
  • Spam campaigns – As an attachment or a link in a small message, these messages can be sent through email and even some instant messaging applications. Links and attachments can include: account suspension scams, ecard scams, password reset scams, and package delivery scam.

How should you protect yourself from fake antivirus programs?

There is data loss prevention software that can be used and implemented into your personal and business network to protect your computer from these threats. A technology consultant can help you choose the correct solution for your business.

For more information on fake antivirus and data loss prevention, contact one of the information technology professionals at Skoda Minotti Technology Partners by calling 440-449-6800.

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