Protecting Yourself Against Computer Hacker Scams

By Chuck McMurtrey,
Chuck McMurtrey's Computer Services

Last Line of Defense

In the preceding months I have given you the tools to make your machine stave off most attacks from malware and viruses. This month I would like to discuss the weakest link in the defense of your PC. That component is YOU! I have seen more problems caused by the user than any other situation. It’s really not your fault. Hackers and scammers are getting more cleaver and devious than ever before. This article will hopefully help you to avoid some of the most common mistakes and pitfalls.

Your Machine is Under Attack

If you happen to be surfing the web and you get a banner or window which states that your machine is under attack, needs scanning, or some similar threatening notification, IGNORE IT! This method of attack is meant to get you to click a button opening your machine to download a variety of malware. Just close the window by selecting the red “X” at the right top of the window. By now you should have a feel of how your malware and virus operate and notify you of upcoming scans.

We Need Some Information

I almost fell pray to this email scam. You will receive an email from one of your institutions stating that it needs to update your account information. The form looks like it’s from your institution, but if you look closer the email address is not quite correct. If you ever have a doubt about the origin of an email from one of your institutions, I would suggest that you just call them and ask if they need any information for your account and if they sent the email. DO NOT respond to any suspicious emails. I have an image located HERE of an actual scam that I have received formatted from Bank of America. I also have a general information grabbing email HERE.

It’s Free

No, it isn’t. This is one of my favorite; "The Nigerian Scam". If you just send me some money it will free up my funds and I’ll compensate your for your kind generosity. I have an actual email located HERE. This email make for amusing reading and I’m still surprised that it is still out there. I guess it still must trap a few individuals each year. And by the way, there are very few, if any individuals that are willing to give away an iPad if you fill out a little form for them. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Windows Calls Me?

I have seen this scam in my own neighborhood. You get a call from Microsoft, or some other reparable tech service letting you know that there is an issue with your computer. Two things. How would they know, and why would they care? Once the “tech service” gets you on the phone they want to take control of your machine through a remote access. If you do grant that access they have the ability to do with your machine as they please. This includes having the ability to access your machine at a later date and monitor your activity and record your keystrokes. This video HERE give a more detailed explanation of this anti-virus scam. No, I mean NO software or tech support service will ever call on users out of the blue.

What Is A User To Do?

I love each and every one of you out there and wish the best for you and your computer. My best advice is don’t be an victim. When you are out there on the web just use a little common sense. If you get an email from someone you don’t recognize, just delete it. If some is looking for unsolicited help, ignore it. If it is free or a great offer, its not. If someone wants some information from you, forget it. This may sound a little crass, but it has served me well over the years.

If you ever have any questions about something strange in your email or on your machine, my advice is always free. Call me.

Happy Computing!

- Chuck McMurtrey

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