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Sussing Out Scareware Schemes

cyber attack encryption smartphone

Many of us rely on our digital devices and the Internet to perform many of our daily tasks. Whether it be work or simply browsing through social media, opening up the web also makes us vulnerable to cyber attacks. As a standard safety precaution, it is common for many to install antivirus softwares on their devices.  But, even with your antivirus installed, have you ever encountered virus alerts on your devices? If so, you most likely also saw pop-up ads for a “Free Scan” or “Purchase Antivirus Now” wit it. In the past, pop-ups have been a popular way for hackers to spread viruses on your computer; and we have been told to ignore these. Hackers sneakily use the “antivirus pop-up method”, also known as scareware, as a scare tactic to spark fear from individuals. 

WannaCry Attack

Scareware is a malicious software that was created to deceive users into visiting or clicking into an infected site through pop-ups. These pop-ups are usually advertisements for fake antivirus software or programs that once downloaded, steal the user’s personal data. For those who fall these scams and actually buy the fake software, they are left with a virus and a stolen credit card information. 


If you get any suspicious pop-up saying you need to click them to fix a virus immediately close the browser or application you’re using and contact your IT department.

How to Suss Out Scareware Schemes

Do your part and take some precautions before clicking. 

  1. Think before you click. Regardless of how legitimate it looks, NEVER click on the site or the pop-up. Avoid hovering and accidentally clicking on the ads. If you are skeptical about the safety of your device, seek out help from a professional IT guy.
  2. Force quit your browser. Do not click on the “X”, “Close”, or “Cancel”. This would do the opposite of what you want and instead of closing the browser, it will give open access for viruses to spread. Here is how you can open task manager:
    • On PC: hold Control + Alt + Delete and click “End Task”
    • On Mac: hold Command + Option + Esc and click “Force Quit”
  3.  Next, notify your IT department (us!) that this has happened so we can double-check with a legitimate scan if your computer was infected.

Let us help you!

Cybercrime is at an all-time high, and hackers are setting their sights on small and medium businesses who are “low hanging fruit.” Don’t be their next victim! Click here to download this free report that reveals the most common ways that hackers get in and how to protect yourself.  We work 24/7 year-round to ensure that your business does not fall prey to data breaches. For more information on how your business can best be protected, schedule a FREE 2-hour assessment with Captain IT by filling out the form linked. 

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