Five Ways You Get Malware!
Linda Lindquist, 239-567-0104, firstname.lastname@example.org
There are many types of malicious software (aka malware) that come from innumerable sources! All malware is created by criminal scammers “pretending’ to be someone you trust so they can steal your money or your identity by tricking you to follow their directions. The longer the malware remains in your computer, the more damage it can do. Security software like Emsisoft anti-malware protects your computer from most malware.
The bad news is that some malicious software gets in because of you! The good news is, if you know the main ways Malware gets into your computer, you can prevent it from tricking you into revealing your identity or taking your money. I thank KnowBe4.com for introducing me to this concept.
In my 13 years of detecting and removing malware, I have identified just five root causes for 80% of the malware that infects your computers.
- Phishing E-mails
- Outdated Software
- Incoming Phone Calls
- Calling Out for Technical Support
Looks like: If you have experienced a pop-up claiming that Microsoft detected a serious problem, with instructions to call an 800 number or you will lose all of your data (sometimes with sirens, beeps or someone speaking to you) … then you have been a victim of Malvertizing trying to scare you into taking action.
Prevention: This type of malware enters your computer by way of an advertising space on a webpage. Ad blocking software stops Malvertizing by not displaying ads on webpages. I recommend low-cost AdGuard or Malwarebytes Browser Guard software.
What you can do:
- Do not be scared into taking the suggested action from the criminal scammer ‘pretending’ to be Microsoft. Do NOT call the 800 number. If you do, they talk their way into your computer, then ‘upsell’ you their expensive tech support contract and put snooping trackers on your computer.
- Call Linda first! Ask Linda to put a low-cost adblocker on your computer.
#2 PHISHING EMAILS
Looks like: An e-mail in your inbox or junk (spam) folder looks like it is from a legitimate business (CVS, COSTCO, USPS, your bank, your email service, WALMART, NETFLIX, etc.). It sometimes offers a gift card if you click a link and fill out a survey (appealing to greed). It sometimes warns you that your bank or email service needs you to click a link and sign in to correct a problem (appealing to fear) The e-mails are sent by a criminal scammers ‘pretending’ to be from trusted companies. The criminal scammer is about to steal your log on password or download potentially unwanted programs to snoop on your computer.
Prevention: While I have not yet discovered any software to automatically filter out phishing e-mails, I can educate you on how to recognize them.
What you can do: Be an e-mail detective to stay clear of phishing criminal scammers.
- If you hover over the ‘sent from’ e-mail address and the link in the message, you can easily deduce that the e-mail was sent by someone ‘pretending’ to be that company.
- DO NOT CLICK!
- If the e-mail was in your inbox, mark it as spam (or junk) to remove it and train your e-mail provider to treat it as spam in the future.
- If the e-mail was in your spam (Junk) folder, delete it.
What you can do: If you gave away any log in password by clicking on a link in an e-mail:
- Change the password for that account immediately!
- Call Linda if you need help.
#3 OUTDATED SOFTWARE
Looks Like: You are probably not aware that the software on your computer is out of date! The criminal scammers are counting on this; they sneak into your computer via security holes in out of date software. The provider of that software may have fixed the security hole; but if you did not apply the fix, you are vulnerable to the criminal scammers getting in. Scary stuff!
Prevention: Luckily, the low-cost Thor Software Updater software automates keeping your software up to date.
What you can do: Call Linda to install Thor Software Updater on your computer.
#4 INCOMING PHONE CALLS
Looks like: You receive a phone call ‘pretending’ to be from Microsoft, Comcast, Social Security, the IRS, the Electric Company, Visa/Mastercard, your grandchild, etc. either with a threat (appealing to fear) or a good deal (appealing to greed). These criminal scammers have mastered Social Engineering, talking their way into getting you to do what they desire. They want your money, often asking to be paid with iTunes or Amazon gift cards, credit cards or even electronic check transfers. They often talk their way into your computer, infect it with snooping software, then ‘upsell’ you to their expensive and bogus support packages. The caller often has a foreign accent.
Prevention: If you do not recognize the caller ID phone number, let it go to voice mail. If it is a robocall, hang up.
What you can do:
- Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize.
- If you answered one of these calls, tell them you are not interested and hang up.
- If you let them into your computer, call Linda immediately to detect and remove any malware and backdoors they installed on your computer.
- If you fell for ‘buying’ their support package, call your bank or credit company to report fraud and possibly get your money back.
#5 CALLING OUT FOR TECHNICAL SUPPORT
Looks like: You are having trouble installing your GPS, Router, Alexa, Google home devices, etc. and you Google search for a tech support number to call. After calling the number, the tech says they can help you, but they need to remote into your computer. They are most likely a criminal scammer ‘pretending” to offer device support, who then tries to ‘upsell’ you an expensive support package.
Prevention: Look for a support number on the literature that came with the device.
What you can do:
- Call Linda first, if you need help installing a device.
- If you let them into your computer or paid them, see the actions in #4 above.
As you can see, the common theme about malware is that it comes from criminal scammers ‘pretending’ to be someone else. By knowing just a few things to look for, you can prevent 80% of malware before it invades your computer, before it steals your identity, before some criminal scammer uses social engineering techniques to trick you into ‘buying’ an expensive support package, before it makes your life miserable.
I am committed to protect your PCs and thwart the criminal scammers who ‘pretend’ to be legitimate companies so they can put malware on your computers.