Legit Or Bogus? How To Spot A Rogue Anti-Virus Program

Have you seen an advertisement or pop-up offering a free PC scan, or telling  you that your computer is infected and at risk? If so, you’ve seen first hand a harmful trojan disguised as an anti-virus program.

These types of rogue anti-virus scams are on the rise. They appear legitimate, and the number one way unsuspecting users get infected is from clicking a malicious link in the pop-up message. Most of these pop-ups have what sound like legitimate virus names, and some even ask you to pay for the  program.

They will almost always have a notice indicating you need to “click here” to install the program to disinfect your PC. Once you click on that link, you’re infected.

To take it a step further, if you actually do enter your credit card information, the hackers have your personal data and can use it at will.

I have anti-virus. Won’t that protect me?

Though the best anti-virus programs will protect you from many threats they can not protect you against all malware, especially the newer infections.

There are millions of different types of infections and hundreds created every day. Even top of the line security companies take days and even weeks to catch the infections.

What can a rogue anti-virus program do?

An infection can do almost anything to a computer, from stealing information  to destroying your valuable data. Some malware will log your password information and use it to try to infect other computers on your network.

Some infections will let your computer be used as a “bot,” which lets attackers use it to share illegal files, attack other systems on the Internet, or spread infections to your friends and family.

How do I protect myself?

Here are some basic tips to keep yourself from being a victim of a rogue anti-virus program.

1. Keep your computer updated with the latest security patches for your operating system and web browser.

2. Never click on a pop-ups that you come across on a website. Even if the  advertisement looks legitimate, chances are it isn’t.

3. Check to make sure your Internet firewall and antivirus are updated every time you use your computer.

4. Turn off any Active-X and scripting from foreign websites. Many of the infections come from these types of scripts. Almost always, your system will ask you if you want to run the script. Always pick “no.”

5. Keep a good backup. Some infections can be so severe that you will need to restore files for your PC to be disinfected and repaired properly.

6. Scan your computer on a regular basis. Most antivirus programs will do this automatically. AVG is a very good program that will scan every day, and can be set to run at night so it doesn’t slow down your work.