There's a pop-up message currently doing the rounds among computer users and, thanks to a safety-concerned support call from one of our customers, we were made aware of it. We'd like to spread the word and let you know about the problem in question:
While the above message appeared on a Mac system, it's entirely possible the perpetrators could target Windows machines, too. What we have here is your typical phishing scam. A group of budding get-rich-quick schemers will program a fake virus scare pop-up to appear on some websites, under the disguise of the operating system's developer.
Security online is a concern for a lot of users and this type of scam preys on those who are maybe not as tech-saavy as others. It's easy to see how a user can panic seeing this message and scramble for the phone to ring the number provided!
As you can see above, the message is designed to get users to believe someone is targeting their computer with malicious intent. However, because the pop-up does not actually infect your computer, the scammers are banking on you believing the message and calling the phone number displayed. This is where they'll most likely convince you to hand over your information. The trick to besting them is simple; ignore the message and run a virus scan to take steps towards never seeing the message again.
Now we'll break down exactly why this message stinks of falsehood, so you can spot it for yourself in the future:
- Starting the message with "It's a critical issue" surrounded by countless asterisks. Think about the kind of impression this would set if a corporation like Apple or Microsoft were behind this slaughter of punctuation.
- The all capitals format is unprofessional.
- "Your computer's security has blocked a Trojan Horse virus." Your antivirus program doesn't need external sources to confirm virus threats; if it spots one, it will speak for itself.
- The same phone number is written three times. Just to make sure you got the message.
- Numerous spelling mistakes: virusus, contaning, immediatly.
- Numerous punctuation errors, including the crown jewel of three exclamation marks back to back.
In short, when you dissect it, the message appears disingenuous and if an Apple or Microsoft employee coded that as an error message, they wouldn't be working there much longer!
And if, by chance, you're thinking: "Well I don't own a Mac, I'm on Windows, so this shouldn't affect me," think again...
If you buy into the hacker's ploy, chances are you'll be giving away the exact things they've listed in their pop-up:
- Your credit card and banking details.
- Every password you've ever used.
- Access to Facebook, Skype and other messaging apps.
- Photos, videos, anything with sentimental value.
- "That" secret folder.
Buying into the scam is basically handing these people the keys to your computer, and thus your personal life. Of course, this is not the only phishing pop-up out there; Windows or Mac, messages like this are surprisingly common. If you see the above message or one that's similar, don't hesitate to give Hale IT a call on 0161 941 2525; who knows, you could be saving yourself or a friend from a grisly fate!