Gizmodo Scareware Fiasco and My Two Cents

November 1, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

It seems like everyday, thousands of online users are falling into the hands of crooks either by becoming a victim of online fraud, identity theft, phishing, hacking, and viruses.

Gizmodo iPhone & iPod Touch WebclipRecently, cyber criminals had once again proven that nobody on the web is safe particularly internet users. Gizmodo, a popular gadget blog became the host to scareware spread out that affected most of their readers (without them initially knowing it) through an initiated alert from an advert encouraging users to download fake software otherwise known as Scareware or Rogueware.

Scareware operates using tricks by inflicting fear through deceit convincing users that their system has been infected with a virus and that they need to download the software for protection.

Once you fall into this trap, the malware will then be executed on your computer thus creating system trouble. Some malware can be very intrusive and the possibility of hacking personally identifiable information on one’s system cannot be discounted. Keystrokes can be recorded in an instant by some forms of malware that can lead to the latter case or normally termed Identity Theft.

I’m a reader of Gizmodo, in fact, I’m a subscriber but I only read their posts via RSS and since they do publish a lot of articles on a given day, I really can’t cope up with it so I just simply skim through the headlines. The day the scareware went out, I wasn’t there but If I was, I wouldn’t even bother downloading something from their site even if it’s a well-known technology blog. For me, it’s not an exemption.

I had my fair share of experience and had tasted Conficker during its course, well the main reason why my system had acquired it is because I deactivated the Antivirus for several days and failed to download Microsoft’s Security Update but other than careless mistake, so far, I’m good.

Tell you what? I’m going to share some simple tips which would definitely save you from any Scareware plot.

  1. If you’re on a website that is offering software downloads and is not basically the software’s official distribution site (e.g. AVG.com, Avast.com, etc.), don’t download anything. Although there are software download sites that have been around for some time which have already gained your trust, it doesn’t hurt to visit the software developer’s site where the software originates. Once you have tracked the software’s whereabouts similar to knowing a person’s background, you’ll surely get the hint. If the software has not long been updated, then better think again before you download because you might be harvesting some rotten eggs.
  2. Avoid clicking banners and popups that invite you for a free scan because this is where most malware hide. Fight your trigger happy click tendencies.
  3. Hover on links and look into your browser’s status bar before you click them. This way, you’ll get an idea whether the link will redirect to some URL that is somewhat suspicious. This simple no-brainy trick has helped me get rid of a Paypal Phishing attack on my email some weeks ago.
  4. The are cases wherein you may have already downloaded the software and your browser has not detected it as malicious, before you even run the file, make sure that you have scanned the file with your Antivirus software because sometimes, there are executable files that are left undetected by browsers but they seem to appear normal yet the moment you run them, you’ll already infected. This step holds true for all types of files you download online.
  5. Don’t run downloads directly from your browsers especially executable files or .exe files or binary. Save them instead on a separate folder on your computer then scan it before you execute the file.
  6. Get rid of unfamiliar file extensions unless you have researched on it before you download.
  7. Have your browsers and Antivirus software regularly updated.
  8. Scan your system regularly.
  9. Keep abreast of the latest news on Internet and Computer security by visiting your Antivirus software provider’s website or by subscribing to their RSS feeds, related sites, blogs and forums.
  10. Always be in the know. You may not remember all of these in one sitting so it pays to bookmark and spread the word so that someone can remind you if you’ve missed out on something.

These are my two cents on how we can prevent ourselves from becoming a victim of scareware and cyber criminals. These are all based on my personal experience. If you have something to share, please do so at the comment’s section.

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Category: security-privacy

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Why AVG 9.0 Free Falls Short to Please? | December 9, 2009
  1. Sire says:

    All good points Mathdelane, but none better than to completely ignore those pop-ups that try to scare you into downloading or getting a free scan. I’m sure that the only ones that fall for this are new users as they are uninitiated in safe surfing habits.

    I think this is an important post and so I have tweeted it.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Three Ways To Increase Your Ad Space Earnings =-.

  2. Mathdelane says:

    @Sire
    Thanks for the RT. Like what you’ve said, people who are less informed about safe internet browsing are the ones likely to fall as victims of these schemes. Although there are times that even the savviest user can fall too. We need to be a little vigilant.

  3. Sire says:

    That’s true Mathdelane. I know because I was caught out once, which is why I am more careful these days.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Three Ways To Increase Your Ad Space Earnings =-.

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