What is a Scareware Attack?

by

September 9, 2022

Scareware is a form of malware which uses social engineering to cause shock, anxiety, or the perception of a threat in order to manipulate users into buying unwanted software.

Scareware is part of a class of malicious software that includes rogue security software, ransomware and other scam software that tricks users into believing their computer is infected with a virus, then suggests that they download and pay for fake antivirus software to remove it.

Usually the virus is fictional and the software is non-functional or malware itself.

 

How to stop a scareware attack

Slow down and control your emotions

Remember the attacker is trying to manipulate your emotions into making a quick reaction. The more time you take to think about the situation the more likely you’ll start to realize something’s up.

We might be animals when it comes to our emotions, but we’re also brilliant. By slowing down, our rational brain allows us to overcome our feelings.

 

Think about what you’re reading, seeing or hearing

The more time you give yourself for rational thought, the better off you are when it comes to seeing through the attacker’s ruse.

Look for things like strange word choices or misspellings. Look for visual clues like off-brand graphics (if it comes from someplace like your bank or a store you frequent).

You’re more astute than you might give yourself credit for. If something seems off, it probably is.

 

Check to see who sent the message

Email masking is incredibly prominent in today’s world. Most email clients format the sender address so that it’s easier to discern who it’s from. The problem is attackers leverage this.

If you’ve got the feeling the message you’re reading isn’t on the level check to see who sent it. If the name is familiar, but the email address isn’t there’s a good chance you’re experiencing a social engineering attack.

 

Don’t follow blind links

Links are easy to hide, just like email addresses. If you can’t discern where a web-link is going to send you don’t click on it.

Always make sure to hover or right-click on an email link (whatever your email client is set up for) to see where it might send you.

 

Be wary of attachments

If you’ve gone through the steps mentioned above, you probably know what I’m going to say here. Don’t download attachments from people you don’t know.

Sometimes it’s a bad idea to download attachments from people that you do. Be on the lookout for e-mail attachments that appear to be Microsoft Word or Excel files. They might contain pretty nasty surprises.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a free consultation with Integris today.

Carl Keyser is the Content Manager at Integris.

Keep reading

Small Business Cybersecurity Guide: Tips from Top Consultants

Small Business Cybersecurity Guide: Tips from Top Consultants

If you've been putting off cybersecurity investments for your small company, the time to invest is now. There's never been a more critical time to address your small business cybersecurity. Consider these facts: The average cost for a data breach for a US company in...

Four Social Engineering Hacks You Need to Prevent in 2024

Four Social Engineering Hacks You Need to Prevent in 2024

In the first quarter of 2024, Statista reports over 963,000 unique phishing sites worldwide were detected, collectively sending out billions of spam emails a day. Is this number scary? You bet. But it's the growing sophistication of these social engineering attempts...

Updating Your Bank’s Security Training for the Age of AI

Updating Your Bank’s Security Training for the Age of AI

How much could AI-driven models like Copilot for M365, Google Gemini, or Apple Intelligence improve the productivity at your bank? The jury is still out on that one, but initial experiments place the overall AI-driven productivity gains for the US economy at between 8...