Malware deceives you into installing software that will allow the scammers to access your files and then track what you are doing. “Malware” is short for “malicious software” – they are computer programs that are designed to infiltrate and damage computers without the user’s knowledge and approval. “Malware” is the general term that covers all of the various types of threats to your computer safety such as viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, root kits, and many more.
You probably have heard of Ransomware. It’s the Malware that will lock up your system and will threaten you in order to extort money. It is a threat that exists both on desktop and mobile devices. And it is almost always insidious, very difficult to remove, and, in many cases can be very expensive. Several prominent and notorious Ransomware Scams are in circulation currently.
Malware scammers will send emails and social media messages at random with links claiming to be on something topical—breaking news, a special event, or something “interesting.”
If you click on the link you may be taken to a website that is fake and that looks like it is the real deal. It will be complete with logos and branding of legitimate websites. To be able to view the video, you will be asked to install some software, such as a codec, to be able to access the video format. And then, if you download the software, your computer is going to be infected with Malware (Malicious Software).
Another way of delivering a Malware Scam can be through websites and pop-ups that will offer “free” file downloads. They can include such programs as music, movies, and games, or offer free access to content, such as adult sites.
Malware Scams will operate by installing software on your computer that allows scammers to access your files or to watch your every move on your computer. Scammers use this information to steal your personal information and perpetrate fraudulent activities. They may make unauthorized purchases on your credit or debit card, Or they may use your identity to open accounts like banking, telephone, or energy services. They might apply for and open loans or carry out other illegal business using your name. Or they may even sell your information to other scammers for illegal use at a later date.
Ransomware is a type of Malware that will block or limit access to your computer or files. It will demand a ransom be paid to the scammer in order for them to be unlocked.
An infected computer will often display messages to persuade you to pay the ransom. Scammers may try to impersonate the police and allege that you have committed an illegal activity and you will have to pay a fine. Or they may simply demand payment for a “key” that will unlock your computer.
If you end up paying the ransom, there is still no guarantee that your computer is going to be unlocked.
- You unexpectedly receive an email or social media message that claims to contain links to a topical or breaking news item or
something that is “interesting.” And then you are asked to download software that will enable you to view the material.
- Music files, games, or admittance to adult websites are provided free of charge if you download a specific program or enter “agree” to a pop-up box.
- Pop-up boxes start to appear on your computer screen. These may contain simple questions or a button that says “Close.”
- You notice that you have new icons on your computer screen. Or your computer is not operating as fast as it normally does.
- You are continually approached by scammers or already have been a victim of another scam where your personal or financial details were previously known.
- Do not open attachments or click on links in emails or social media messages that strangers may have sent you. Just simply press the Delete button.
- If you want to access video or information about major or breaking news, use a reliable online news source instead of an unknown web link.
- Be suspicious of free downloads and website access, such as music, games, movies and adult websites. They may ultimately end up installing harmful programs without your knowledge.
- Always keep the security for your computer up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Only purchase computer and anti-virus software from a reputable and well-known source.
- Use your security software to perform a virus check if you think your computer’s security may have been compromised. If you still have any doubts or suspicions, get in touch with your anti-virus software provider or a computer professional.
- Keep your personal computer, mobile devices and office networks secure. Regularly update your security software, change your passwords and back up your data. You should store your backups offsite and offline.
Have You Been Scammed?
If you think that you may have provided your account details to a scammer, get in touch with your bank or financial institution immediately. Chances are, if you bank with a larger well-known bank or credit union, they will already have experience with this type of scam. They will be able tell you exactly what they will be able to do in terms of putting a security alert on your account and dealing with fraudulent charges, etc.
Both the FTC and the FBI recommend that you do not pay the ransom. And in reality, there’s no guarantee that the bad guys will actually release your data. Additionally, if you do offer to pay, they are going to known that your data has not been backed up. This could increase the asking price, they may return your files corrupted, and you could become the target of continuing scams. It might be better to learn from experience and then start fresh.
Finally, the FBI strongly urges victims to report all of these types of crimes to its Internet Crime Complaint Center. If you want to file a complaint, go to www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. You will need to include the date of the infection, the name of the Ransomware, how it happened, the ransom amount that was demanded and paid, phone numbers or addresses, and a victim impact statement.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post on the Malware & Ransomware Scam. I hope it has provided needed information for the reader and has helped in some way. Please feel free to leave Comments and Questions below. Also, if you know of a scam, leave the information in the Comment section and I will be glad to investigate. Take care and have a great day.