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Scareware: How to Protect Your Network

This article explains what you can do to protect your network when targeted by scareware.
Man reacting to the computer screen in an alarming way

In this article, you will learn what to do about fake error messages and scareware.

These attacks use amygdala hijacking, which we have already spoken about when we reviewed social engineering. Hackers use amygdala hijacking to evoke a strong emotional response that is meant to trigger action before rational thought can kick in.

If you come across scareware, you should not pay anything because you will lose this money. These attacks are designed to elicit fear and force you into immediate action without thinking, so the best thing to do it to pause and think. Take a minimum of five minutes to calm down and think about whether the message makes sense. For example, would the FBI really warn users and offer paying a fine instead of arriving to arrest you for breaking the law? Would your antivirus package or Windows require additional payments in this manner every time a new virus comes up?

When you see these things, clear your browser cache and run a full antivirus scan. Again, these are examples of scareware and are probably not a virus; however, they can insert a payload that can harm your computer. It is always best to take precautions, and never pay any money or call the numbers on the message.

Investigate and share: Scareware takes advantage of our emotive responses and can be very effective. Find an interesting write-up or news story on a case where scareware was effective, and share your findings in the comments section below.

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