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Beware Malware, Ransomware, Scareware

March 8th, 2013 | by admin admin | in Security Advice |    0   comments

anti_virus.jpgRachel Moffat, a Vancouver graphic designer, works extensively on her computer. So you’d think she would be alarmed when a stranger called to inform her, “Your computer has downloaded some malware.” After all, warnings surface daily about the latest virus making the rounds.

“I decided to take up as much of his time as I could by asking very polite, but somewhat silly questions,” says Moffat. “Never contradicting him; always going along with him.”

The caller eventually became so frustrated that he sighed in exasperation and swore at her. “He was genuinely annoyed that I wouldn't allow him to scam me. I am still smiling.”

Moffat was wise not to fall for this virus fixing scheme. According to the Better Business Bureau, it is the top computer scam of 2013. A con artist calls, warning that your computer has been infected, and offers to fix it. To do so, he or she needs your passwords and other information to access your computer remotely. And, of course, your credit card information to pay for this service.

The RCMP is also warning the public about a similar malware scam. If you inadvertently download malware, commonly known as “ransomware” or “scareware,” it can lock you out of your computer. A pop-up message informs you that the RCMP or other government agency has frozen your computer for a criminal investigation. In some cases, the message lists possible offences, or a single offence such as “child pornography” or “illegal music downloading.” To unlock your computer, you must pay $100.

These warning messages are fake. Do NOT send money. Your computer will not unlock and you’ll never see your money again.

Some security tips from the BBB and RCMP for preventing computer fraud:

  • If you receive an unsolicited call offering anti-virus services, requesting access to your computer or asking for credit card information, hang up! 
  • Do not click on pop-up advertisements or e-mailed links offering anti-virus services or software.
  • NEVER give an unsolicited caller access to your computer
  • Always buy anti-virus software from a legitimate vendor you trust
  • Update your anti-virus software often and scan your computer for viruses regularly
  • Don’t click on links or attachments in e-mails sent to you by someone you don’t know
  • Turn on your browser’s pop-up blocking feature

If you’ve received a ransomware or scareware message, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) to report it. If you have been a victim of a fraud, contact your local RCMP Detachment or police force of jurisdiction.

Remember, anyone can be a victim. Moffat tells the cautionary tale of “a very intelligent person who was distracted by a recent death. Under normal circumstances, this person would not have fallen for it either. But they weren't thinking clearly that day. The fact that they were further victimized by scammers makes my blood boil!”


Computer Fraud Warning – “Ransomware” and “Scareware”. RCMP.

Top Ten Scams. Better Business Bureau.


Note: This blog discusses general safety and security topics. It is not intended to provide comprehensive advice or guidance. In all matters of personal safety and security, we encourage readers to research topics in depth and consult a security professional about specific concerns.

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