We all know how annoying a slow or broken PC can be. The random error messages, shutdowns, and freezes can frustrate even the most advanced PC user. However, in addition to being annoying, these errors can pose a serious threat to the security of your PC. Here are just a few of the ways in which common PC error messages can quickly turn into a major security threat:
The dangers of adware and scareware
Scammers are becoming smarter every day, and a special kind of malware called ‘adware’ or ‘scareware’ is becoming more and more common. Adware infects your computer when you visit a website or download a malicious file. At first, your computer may seem like it is perfectly okay, and that it isn’t infected by a virus.
However, before long, you’ll start to see random error messages and pop-ups which inform you that your PC has a serious virus that needs to be fixed immediately. Sometimes, these error messages disguise themselves as official notifications from the Windows operating system, and the adware may even prevent you from opening basic applications like your internet browser.
This is where the adware gets clever: it knows you can’t open your antivirus program or an internet browser, so it recommends that you immediately download its own antivirus tool. This is why these programs are often called ‘scareware’, as they scare the user into downloading a certain application.
Ultimately, instead of scanning your PC for viruses, the malicious antivirus program will steal any personal information it can find and may even turn your PC into a bot that uploads illegal files on the internet, or attempts to infect your friends’ computers. If this application has infected your PC, your financial data and personal information is at a high risk of being stolen, which is one of many reasons why adware and scareware pose a serious threat to the security of your PC.
Similar to the example above, phishing schemes try to trick users into entering their personal information into a fake website in an attempt to steal that information. This is commonly seen with banking websites, online retailers, and even social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
The problem with phishing schemes is that the fake website looks nearly identical to the real one. These scams can trick even the most advanced PC users, and once your information is compromised, a hacker can drain your bank account of its funds or send viruses to your social media contacts, among other things. Put simply, there is so much damage that a hacker can do once he or she has access to your online accounts, and it is very important to protect yourself from phishing schemes as much as possible.
Fortunately, avoiding phishing schemes is fairly straightforward: take a careful look at the address bar of the site that you’re on. Instead of being your bank’s official website, or Facebook.com, it may have a common misspelling of that site, or a completely different URL entirely. If that is the case, leave the website immediately.
If you really want to protect yourself from phishing schemes, many antivirus programs offer anti-phishing support. These PC repair programs actively scan websites for attempts to mine your data and alert you if the page you are on is deemed suspicious.
The bottom line
Next time your computer starts to experience random errors or slowdowns, it’s important to realize how dangerous these problems can be. Instead of just being a minor annoyance, these can be the early signs of a virus that is attempting to clean out your bank account, steal your emails, or send viruses to your social media friends. With that in mind, it’s important to be cautious when using your computer and to download a good antivirus program like PC Cleaner Pro 2012 if you are ever in doubt.