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Rogue Security Software

 Friend or Foe?  On the surface Rogue security programs appear to be friendly. These fake software packages advertise and promote themselves as products that will remove malicious software from your computer.  However, they are in fact one of the most insidious malware infections your computer can suffer.

What to look for …  The moment rogue security software is installed on your system it will display a legitimate looking pop-up window warning you of the dangers of malware, spyware, adware or viruses. They report finding dozens or hundreds of infections on your system that don’t actually exist.  You are urged to either “Continue Unprotected” or to “Get the Full version of (insert Fake Product Name here)” with a notice that the current version is a trial version and unable to remove these threats. The pop-up will “strongly recommend” that you purchase the Full version while often sweetening the offer with free 24x7 support, unlimited protection, and  free updates.

How does rogue security software get on my computer?  Rogue security software infections usually occur when you visit a compromised web site and click on a web link or pop-up window. A notice will entice you to scan your computer for free and inform you that your computer may be infected. At this point you are invited to download and install some software. Once installed the software will “pretend” to scan your computer and display a false report of infections on your computer.

If it’s too good to be true …  All of that benevolent support and protection sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? And wasn’t it a miracle that you were surfing the web and out of the blue a window popped up offering to scan your computer and to protect it, albeit for a nominal fee?

Where can I find legitimate security programs?  At UWG we have the Symantec antivirus software installed on all machines and it is also available to our students and employees for at-home use at no cost. Just go to http://www.westga.edu/its/index_5250.phpand follow the instructions to download it on your home machine. However, what we have to offer may not be what you want and of course there are many more programs to choose from. Computer magazines frequently publish articles and reviews of both commercial and free security software tools.  Most computer magazines now allow you to read the articles and reviews online for free. PC Magazine or PCMAG.COM for example has a June 2009 review of 12 Free Security Software Tools athttp://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2350199,00.asp. Most security software is available for download. However, you may want to investigate your local retail or computer store to see what they have available.  If the security program is sold in a “brick and mortar” store it is legitimate software.    If you really insist on downloading security software from the Internet, please be sure to at least verify with local stores or check tech magazines if it is indeed legitimate. The “fakers” are really clever and might label their software with names that are very similar to the legitimate software e.g. the spelling of the name might differ by one letter and it might not be immediately obvious at first glance.

UPDATE  Interestingly the creators of fake security software or ‘scareware’ have added an extra step to their ‘service’ by offering live support! You can contact them via live-chat or email or telephone. In some cases they even offer a free 24-hour trial … It is yet another way to try to get money from the unsuspecting user. Don’t fall for it! For some relating articles, please visit the following website:  http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/Scareware-now-with-live-support-1037622.html