As we close the books on 2013, people begin producing lists that review what has happened. I think these lists are interesting, and look forward to reading them. As we move into 2014, let’s review the computer viruses that wreaked havoc in 2013 and will most likely continue to in 2014, so you ensure you and your technology are protected and informed. When you are online remember to STOP.THINK.CONNECT.
- Cryptolocker – Rising in prevalence during the fall, hackers were taking over computers and holding personal files and information for ransom. The model of stealing something and holding it hostage till someone pays a monetary ransom has been around for ages, but this is the first time it has been seen with a 21st century twist.This virus was created by a group of overseas criminals, and transmitted through infected attachments on email messages.
- Microsoft Phone Scam – This scam was making its way around during the summer of 2013, it even took one of our franchise owners by surprise. The goal of the phone call is to catch people off guard, because the caller identifies themselves as a Microsoft employee that has been alerted that there is something wrong with your pc, and they need remote access to repair.They are trying to lull you into a false-sense of security that something is wrong and you have to give them access. Once they gain access, they actually install a virus on your computer and then charge you to remove it and repair the damage they have caused.
- FBI Virus – This internet scam accesses your computer and preys on your fear of being contacted by the FBI and threatened with fines and jail time. Once it infects your computer a fake message with the FBI logo will appear on the screening accusing you of downloading something illegally, while locking your computer. A ransom-like notice will be sent to you, forcing you to pay the hacker to regain control of your computer.Like many other viruses this is also transmitted by accessing suspicious email attachments or untrustworthy websites.
- Facebook Virus – Like its name suggest, this virus is transmitted by clicking links within the Facebook website. The goal is to discover and obtain your banking usernames and passwords to steal all of your available funds. This virus, also known as Zeus, will remain dormant on your computer until a banking website is accessed. It then quickly moves into action to steal your information.The best way to combat this virus is to only access links that are provided by people you know, and that do not appear to be suspicious in nature. Also, because the virus targets banking websites, making sure that your bank’s website is secure and has a 2-step verification process will help protect your funds.
- Search Conduit – The last virus on our list, is not a traditional virus, it is actually a browser hijack. It is a menace that exhibits malicious traits on your browser. It is commonly installed through when you download something else. It will install the Conduit Toolbar to your default browser and change your default homepage to search.conduit.com.
The best protection method is to avoid opening attachments from senders that you are unfamiliar with or on emails that you are not anticipating.If your computer is attacked by this virus, they suggest immediately unplugging. The hope is that the virus will have stalled and an expert technician will be able to salvage your data.
The Conduit search engine will act very much like other search engines (e.g. Google or Bing) and display both ads and sponsored listings. It will track your search history in an effort to boost advertising revenue, which is commonly known as a black hat SEO tactic. It tends to be quite difficult to remove, and you may have to call in a local expert for help because it takes hold of your browser and operating system.