Dealing with scam virus alert messages

A popular trend among cybercriminals is to create fake virus alert messages. Scam messages declaring the computer system is infected with a virus are methods of misleading end users. The scam messages send a prompt to the cyber user at an unexpected moment, claiming to have detected a form of a malware usually a virus or a Trojan.

Receiving the pop-up messages which states that the computer system has detected malware causes the end user to panic, therefore complying to the adversary by clicking on the message. The design of the scam virus message is sophisticated and is similar to the alerting message of an actual anti-virus system. However, clicking a fake virus alert message results in the download of a virus or a Trojan.

A scam virus alert can be detected and disassociated from a genuine anti-virus software by inspecting whether the authentic software has generated the message. Furthermore, a scam virus alert will exaggerate the number of viruses detected to hundreds to attract the attention of the user. Moreover, the list of threats found will be listed as 'Trojan', 'Virus' and 'Worm', whereas a genuine anti-virus software will detect the malware name through an up-to-date database record provided by the security software.

Generally, spam virus messages are designed to obtain money from the end user and will attempt to receive a payment. An actual security system installed on a computer will not ask for a random payment. A genuine anti-virus software only takes payment on purchase and expiry with the full knowledge and consent of the end user.

Most importantly, the scam virus alert messages appear counterfeit through poorly designed pop-up windows. For example, bright colours are used and flashing text is displayed to obtain the interest of the victim. A real anti-virus software will not use flashing text upon detecting malware.

TechDecoded recommends the following tips for dealing with fake virus alerts:-

• Avoid clicking any pop-up virus alert message - Use task manager to close the browser. Clicking on the pop-up window to close the scam message could result in the malware downloading on the computer system. Therefore, close the browser through task manager to avoid clicking the pop-up message.

• Manually run trusted anti-virus software - Use a trusted anti-virus software to run an enhanced scan on the computer to detect whether the system has been compromised.

• Never make a payment - Avoid making a payment when any unexpected pop-up window displaying a virus message is received. Alternatively, buy authentic anti-virus software through trusted vendors.