Scareware Attacks on the Rise

By Better Business Bureau

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Computer experts are reporting that “scareware” attacks are on the rise.

Scareware is a sneaky technique used by hackers to steal personal information and spread viruses. Hackers have recently exploited companies like Google, Twitter and the *New York Times* as part of a massive scareware attack on consumers.

In mid-September, visitors to the *New York Times’* website suddenly received a pop-up window that looked like a message from their own computer warning that their computer had been infected with a virus. The user was then told to visit a website to purchase and download antivirus software that would fix the problem. The supposed antivirus software actually installed even more viruses and malware onto the computer, and the user’s credit card number was now in the hands of hackers.

The same scenario on the *New York Times* website is playing out all over the Internet. According to *Computer World Magazine*, hackers are not only using pop-up ads, they are also “poisoning Google search results.” Hackers monitor the news and hot topics online and, through search engine optimization techniques, are able to ensure that their websites make the top results. Victims who click on the fake search results receive a scareware pop up.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends the following tips for computer users to protect their computers from a scareware attack:

Never let your guard down. A scareware attack can happen on trusted news sites like the *Times Colonist* and *New York Times*, in search engines results from Google, and now even on Twitter.

Protect your computer. Install updates to your operating system, purchase antivirus software from a name you trust and keep that software up-to-date. Also, make sure all security patches and updates are installed for your web browser and programs like Adobe Flash Player.

Take immediate action during an attack. If you receive a scareware pop-up window, experts recommend forcing the window to close through your task manager. To do this, hold down ctrl, alt, and delete at the same time, open your task manager, find the browser in the list of running programs and click “end task.” Finally, run an antivirus scan with legitimate, trusted software.

For more advice on fighting off hackers and staying safe online, visit





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