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“Computer Corner” column: DON’T close pop-ups by clicking on red X

By Bill & Sheila Hair, owners of My Computer Guy in Rockwall.

Ads for fake Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware programs are multiplying. If you are browsing the web and you see a pop-up warning you that your computer has been infected with a virus, DON’T click on the link or close the box with the red “X” in the upper right-hand corner. Your browser can become hijacked, pop-up ads will start sprouting up everywhere and your computer will start freezing up. This may be an extreme example, but we see this happen daily.

The number of fake anti-virus software scams has increased tenfold in the first quarter of this year. Court records reveal one instance of why this has become a hot new trend with hackers. One company (Innovative Marketing) took in more than $160 billion world-wide last year “selling” fake anti-virus programs.

How they trick you!

Online scammers create and place fake ads under the name of well-known anti-virus corporations without their permission and without the knowledege of the sites selling the ads. Instead of installing legitimate anit-virus software, you get a virus that either infects the PC or creates a warning that sells the user a fake clean-up program.

How to avoid getting tricked:
1. Use Firefox as your browser instead of Internet Explorer
2. Keep your computer updated with the lastest legitimate anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and be sure to get a good firewall.
3. Never open an email attachment unless your are POSITIVE about the source.
4. Do NOT click on any pop-up that advertises anti-virus or anti-spyware software. If a virus alert appears on your computer screen, DONT click on it, even to “close” it. Instead, hit Control + Alt + Delete to bring up the Task Manager. From there, delete the “rogue” from the list of running programs, and call us immediately, 972-772-2870.
5. Do not download freeware or shareware unless you know it is from a reputable source. Many freeware and shareware programs come bundled with spyware, adware or fake anti-virus programs.

My Computer Guy is a locally-owned computer and network services company based in Rockwall TX, which has been serving small to mid-sized businesses and residential customers in the DFW metropolitan area since 1996.

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