Scary things your computer tells you (even when you didn’t ask…) 

Notebook-24As a general rule, your computer only responds to your requests. So if something happens that you didn’t ask for….question it.

You might get a message popping up that asks you if you should download and install an update; for instance Adobe Flash or Reader, or even Microsoft updates. Antivirus and antispyware programs need to update themselves quite often, and if they’re not configured to do this automatically, they will ask you if it’s ok. As long as you recognize the program making the request, go ahead and download the update. If you don’t recognize it, just close the pop up window. If it returns, and keeps returning, you’ve picked up some malware. Do a manual scan with your antivirus and antispyware applications, and if they don’t get rid of it, email me.

Now for some specific nasties.

1. A window (or pop-up) appears telling you that you have 750 virus infections, or some horrible number, and a link to download a program to get rid of them. This is a classic malware/virus attack, and downloading the software they suggest will give you the virus.

2. Microsoft says you need to fix up your computer. This message is usually accompanied by a phone number or link to a website that will supposedly repair the issues. Microsoft doesn’t care about you and your computer, believe me! It’s a scam. Sometimes the phone number gets you a human being, who will inevitably suggest that there’s nothing more they can do and you should pay for something more powerful. Occasionally that person you contact will suggest he or she connect with your computer via Remote Desktop. This too will guarantee a virus infection, and you will be swamped by hundreds of pop ups. Eventually your antivirus protection will be disabled, and you won’t be able to use your usual search engine. I know this sounds a bit creepy…but the search engine won’t allow you to go to any sites that might connect you to an antivirus download.

3. The RCMP says you have all kinds of issues. This is another spooky one. A big window will pop up, the kind of window you either can’t close or if you do, it comes right back. There will be a legitimate looking logo, sometimes the RCMP coat of arms, sometimes Microsoft, or just ‘Windows’. But there will be a logo that looks real. Again…the RCMP really, really doesn’t care about your computer! And if you click on the link, you’re doomed.

4. Rogers (or any internet service provider) says you’ve been downloading illegal software. Starts by saying ‘Re: Allegations of Copyright Infringement’ this is new, horrible, and unfortunately, legit.

Even the explanation offered by Rogers is a bit obtuse! I’ve heard of two people who have received this letter, and both were very, very upset. And both knew that neither they nor anyone who could have been using their computers had downloaded anything illegal. In one instance, the wrong IP address was quoted. I’m sure many, many others have received this borderline abusive email.

5. Offers to speed up your PC. The most common is ‘Speed Up PC’, This article also tells you how you can get rid of the little beastie if you download it by accident.

6. If you need some new software, go looking for it yourself. Google can guide you to free or trial versions of what you need, for instance if you need a DVD burner try doing a Google search for ‘free DVD burning software’. Be careful not to accept any offers for other goodies when you’re installing free software, though. Unsolicited software is almost always malware.

Here are some good sites to find safe free stuff:
http://download.cnet.com/windows/
http://www.tucows.com/

http://www.majorgeeks.com/
http://sourceforge.net/

And to finish my little speech…some of you have heard it all before! …If you don’t know you need it, you don’t need it. Popups offering things that are too good to be true? They are too good to be true. And they’re never harmless.

~Martha Gandier

She can be reached at: gandier47@hotmail.com

Note: This article is ideal for those that use PC/Windows based computers.


Many thanks to Martha Gandier.  She is a regular contributor to the CSINFO Bulletin – Meeting the information needs of Consumer/Survivors in the Toronto Area.  To subscribe to The Bulletin call the Consumer/Survivor Information Resource Centre of Toronto at: 416-595-2882 or email them at: csinfo@camh.ca.  The Bulletin is published by C/S Info Centre – a Consumer/Survivor Initiative funded by the Toronto Central LHIN (Local Health Integration Network). It’s free to receive. If you don’t have email you may receive it by regular mail through the generous support of the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health.

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