Don't Be a Victim: Think Before You Click

Don't become a victim by clicking on malware-infected email links & attachments or fake antivirus scanners!

Pete Hodge (Winnefox's Network Manager/PC Support Specialist) is seeing an alarming increase in malware-infected computers in libraries around the system:

  • The most common method of infection seems to be the fake email from a shipper such as USPS, UPS, or Fedex.  Once you click on the link in the email you are redirected to a site the infects your computer.
  • Another method creates a popup window that claims your computer is infected with spyware and viruses.  The malware wants to scare you into acting immediately, out of fear your computer has been infected; in reality, it will get infected if you click a bogus virus scanner offer.

Another that's been making the rounds lately is a fake Quickbooks invoice, along with fake emails that look like they're from Bank of America, and warnings about email limits.

Pete says:
Think Before You Click

... be extremely skeptical of what pop-up windows and banner messages are telling you when on the Internet.  Any security software that should be installed on the computer will come from someone at WALS or on staff at your library.  If you ever have any questions about popup windows or other odd computer messages, please do not hesitate to call or email me or Jody Cleveland.

A sure sign your computer has become infected with malware:

... it will pop up a window on your computer claiming that you are infected with spyware and viruses.  If you tell it to install, or even just hit the 'Cancel' button, it will install itself on your computer and never go away until you purchase their software.  It is very difficult to get rid of this malware and it is an extreme annoyance until it is removed.

If your computer is infected, call Pete or Jody before clicking anything. Clicking the red X in the popup window will not close the malware — it will actually install it.

If it's after office hours and neither Pete nor Jody are available, hold down your computer's power button until it shuts off.

You cannot get rid of the malware yourself — Pete or Jody will need to clean your computer for you.

In the words of Richard Byrne (curator of the Free Technology for Teachers blog), "If it doesn't look legit, quit."

An aside for word nerds:the word malware is a portmanteau (a.k.a. combination) of the words malicious and software. Malware is a category of malicious code that includes viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.

Image credit: made by me, on Quozio