Fake Security is Big Business - Self-protection
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Given that fake security scams are set to become more prevalent, users should familiarize themselves with the most effective protective measures. Many of these are standard practices – things like keeping operating systems and software patched with the most recent updates, implementing strong password policies and being wary of unsolicited files and embedded web links from any source, however apparently trustworthy. Others are more specific to the particular threats posed by scareware and to its unique methods of delivery. Five of the most important of these are:
Beware security warning messages. A common element in virtually all threats of the fake security variety is the use of dialog boxes or prompts warning of a security hazard. The most basic and essential protection against these threats is to be skeptical about any such notifications from an unknown source.
No reputable security software is likely to scan or analyze your system without your permission, so unless you have explicitly instigated a scan or installed a security software package yourself, you should dismiss all such warnings. If you think a warning may be plausible, you should investigate it using software that is known to be reputable rather than entrusting the task to an unknown and unsolicited solution.
Having said that, you should not rely on software alone for protection. Relying exclusively on anti-virus software is especially dangerous, as this will not necessarily protect against phishing and social engineering scams. A firewall is essential on any Internet-connected computer or network, and anti-malware applications such as Spybot and Adaware can provide useful protection against a range of threats.
But the most important defense of all is your own caution and common sense. Approaching the Internet from the perspective that no one and nothing can be trusted is a good starting point.
Avoid unknown free Wi-Fi access points. Every time you connect to a new Wi-Fi access point using a dynamic host configuration, your network settings change. These changes are not always benign. In particular, DNS queries can be re-routed in a dangerous manner.
There is also a danger that interception software might be running on unknown networks. This is impossible to detect, and such software may be able to steal confidential details such as passwords, PINs and bank login details. To help reduce such risks, you should restrict yourself to known and reputable networks whenever possible.
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