(Submitted to NorthIowaToday.com by Patrick Palmer ñ The Computer Guy ñ Hampton, Iowa)
Years ago, computer owners had to protect their computers from viruses that would steal banking information, credit card information, send e-mail spam to all of your contacts, or just shut down the computer. Luckily, those days are behind us for the most part. BUT, there’s a new thief who is making their rounds in Northern Iowa and all over the United States ñ and it’s coming to a computer near you! The new bandit is known by many names: Scamware, Rougeware, Fraudware, Malware, and Spyware ñ it’s the program that alerts computer owners “you are infected, buy our program and get your computer cleaned up FAST!” This thief steals nothing, but many computer owners GIVE the thief their credit card information with no questions asked.
According to the publication, “The Business of Rogueware” published by Panda Security in 2008, it is estimated that these “criminals” harvest over $34 million dollars a month with these Rogueware attacks. Sadly, this number from 2008 will continue to grow as Rogueware attacks are increasing at a rate of tenfold per year.
What are we talking about? Programs like “Think Point,” “Security Tool 2011,” “XP Antivirus 2011,” “Windows7 Protector” and many more that appear with their “protective” icon down by the clock in the Windows task bar. Many of them will lock the user out of their computer until the credit card number has been entered and the transaction has been completed. BUT, that’s only the start. With the majority of the programmers of these tools out of the United States, add on to the $49.99 (or up) program a Foreign Transaction Fee and outrageous reoccurring fees. Like I said before, YOU gave them the number and approved the transaction. Now, THEY have the number and will max out your card in a matter of days.
If you feel that you have done this, do not be ashamed, call your bank right away and cancel the card and see if the charges can be reversed. Then, get your computer cleaned up by a professional who knows what they are doing. Computer repair centers who just backup your data and reformat, MAY NOT be doing you any favors. The data itself may be infected, depending on its source and type, so a plain “nuke and pave” may not do the trick.
At my shop, “The Computer Guy”, in Hampton, Iowa, we are on the front lines of these scams and can take many proactive steps for protection. Ultimately, virus programmers have the upper hand at this cat and mouse game. Proper protection may do wonders to thwart these attacks, but safe computing is ultimately the best protection. Gambling sites, some Facebook applications, pornographic websites and illegal video and music download sites are notorious for infecting computers with these faux protection programs.
As a follow up, if you do have any questions about your computer, or if your computer is acting strange or running slow, do not hesitate to call us. We offer a FREE pickup and delivery service in a 45 mile radius of Hampton and offer FREE inspections and tune-ups to walk-in customers. We look forward to service you, whether it is onsite, in our shop or via remote repair ñ The Computer Guy is your computer’s best friend.
Phone number ñ 641-456-1936||