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- Users are looking for a proactive solution to keep their information secure from modern cyber threats.
- VARs/MSPs must to keep users educated on today's cyber threats, and offer effective solutions to keep user information and devices secure.
- Application whitelisting is the most effective method of preventative protection.
- Whitelisting has been encouraged by various U.S. government agencies including the US-CERT, FBI, NSA, and Department of Homeland Security.
- PC Matic Pro has been tested and proven effective in thwarting today's cyber security threats, including ransomware.
- Hold down the Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys
- Choose "Task Manager"
- Click on the browser you were using
- Select "End Task"
- If a company is going out of business, and customers are warranted a refund, the company will do so. However, they will not need you to provide your payment information, as it would already be tied to your account.
- If you're ever questioning the refund or offer -- ask for the person's name and tell them you will call them back. Contact the company, via their support options listed on their original website, to confirm what you were told by the original caller.
- Keep in mind, these scammers are going to push for your account information. They don't want you calling back, they want you to fall for the bogus scam. Therefore, they're going to urge you not to call back, and to give them your information now. If it's a legit company -- they won't care if you call back, your refund will still be there.
- Microsoft NEVER puts a 1-800 number in their BSoD screens, or pop-up messages. These are all fake virus scams.
Users Look for Better Protection Against Today's Cyber Threats
MSPs and VARs
"More than half (53 percent) of U.S. organizations that were infected with ransomware blamed legacy antivirus protection for failing to prevent the attack..."
Application Whitelisting Offers an Alternative and Effective Solution
Top 5 Takeaways
Ransomware Attacks Drive 44.53% of Endusers to Reconsider Their Antivirus SolutionsNot only are ransomware attacks taking place daily, but news coverage of these attacks has increased. Therefore, the public has become more aware of this cyber threat. The same can be said for another cyber threat, crypto-jacking. Not long ago, computer users would have no idea what either of those terms meant. Now, increased awareness is leading users to reconsider their antivirus solutions. In a recent survey conducted by PC Matic, 44.53% of respondents reported reconsidering their current antivirus provider due to the recent news stories related to ransomware and crypto-jacking. Of those who are reconsidering, approximately 10% have already changed providers. In addition, 17.4% of respondents reported either they or their company, have been hit with ransomware. However, only 50% of those who have been hit with ransomware have switched antivirus programs in an attempt to prevent future attacks. Perhaps, most importantly, 100% of survey respondents who stated they were currently using a confirmed automated global whitelist antivirus program, reported they have not been victimized by ransomware.
Imagine this alert showing up on your screen. Scary thought, right?
This message, and one's similar, are intended to scare users and force them into acting promptly by calling the toll-free number listed in the alert to fix the issue identified. The problem is, these alerts are completely fake. There is nothing wrong with the computer, therefore there is no need to fix anything.
Over approximately the last year, PC Matic has conducted extensive research regarding this particular tech support scam, deeming it the Fake Virus Scam.
About the Fake Virus Scam
This scam aims to trick users into believing that their computer or device needs to be fixed with unnecessary and costly technical support services. The alert messages create a sense of urgency, making users believe they must call quickly to remediate the problem. They also aim to increase a sense of legitimacy by using a well-known brand, like Microsoft in the alert. Please note, a legitimate Microsoft notification will not include a phone number.
But how does it worm its way onto a computer? Scammers have succeeded in getting an advertisement or pop-up into a user’s browser, probably during a freeware download, which will generate the above alert. Once the fake virus shows up on the computer, the browser appears to be locked. In addition, a voice over may come over your speakers. Below is a recording we've been able to obtain of these voice overs.Just image you're in a work environment and that comes over your computer. Embarrassing, and highly concerning. By including this voice over, victims are increasingly likely to call the number listed to get the fake virus removed.
Once a user calls the scammers, they will want a large payment or subscription fee to “fix” the computer. They also may offer to sell the user a bogus antivirus program, or some other unneeded service.
In order to install these applications, or “fix” the device, they will request authorization to remotely access the computer. Using remote access, these experienced scammers can misrepresent normal system output as signs of problems. It's nothing but a scam to get your money, credit card information and access to your computer.
PC Matic employee Michael Hucks, called one of these numbers to see what exactly the scammers are saying. You may listen to his call below:
How They’re Getting Away with It
The hoax uses what appears to be legitimate phone numbers to build trust with the victim. However, the scam often originates from a country, which will not cooperate with law or regulatory enforcement agencies trying to identify these scammers.
PC Matic has found, most of these fake tech support numbers are directed to one main center which modifies their Urgent Alert messages with new 1-800 numbers every couple of weeks. In just the last three months, PC Matic has tracked 140 different phone numbers tied to the fake virus scam.
Avoid Falling VictimWouldn’t it be nice if you never had to receive these messages at all?
Last year, PC Matic recognized the fake virus problem and added a feature, for no additional charge, to their adblocking technology. This technology has proven to effectively and proactively block these threats. In just the last three months, PC Matic has blocked 4,128 of these scams; up to 450 per day. Fortunately, with PC Matic’s superior adblocking technology, users can rest assured in knowing they are protected and won’t be subject to these stressful and potentially invasive and costly tactics.For those not using PC Matic, there is a way to rid a computer of the scam, after it has populated. In order to do so, complete the following steps:
Just One Tool in the Hacker's ArsenalThis is not the only bogus virus scam going around. Additional fraudulent alerts include phone and email scams. This includes hackers calling a user saying their antivirus solution is going out of business and the caller needs the user's payment information to send a "credit". Hackers have also called users claiming that they have been over billed for services, and were making arrangements for a "refund"; however, they need the payment information to issue said "refund". Another example are emails promising refunds to users of various programs. An example of a scam email that has been sent out can be seen below. Our team also went through the process of helping users identify these scams here. Another, includes a fake blue screen of death (BSoD) screen, like what is shown below. These are just a few examples of the scams that users are falling victim too, but these are the top execution methods to be aware of. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to these scams:
Internet Speed Analysis MethodologyPC Pitstop has offered free internet speed bandwidth testing for years. Also, the speed tests are part of our PC Matic product which scans PCs internet performance settings. Basically the test measures how long it takes to download a specific sized test data. It then captures the speed in Mbps and also the IP address for each PC. The IP address is a means to identify which ISP the tested PC is using to access the internet. Our analysis is based on approximately 1.9 million download speed test records across 252,000 unique PCs that were performed during the month of January 2017.
ISP Bandwidth ResultsOur initial analysis shows the top 10 most popular ISP based on the number of unique PCs that ran our internet speed tests. The data shows a fairly pronounced separation of 5 ISP with average download speeds greater than 30 Mbps and the other 5 with less than half of that speed. This type of analysis shows the average level of throughput each ISP provides. However, it is limited in the insight it provides. Looking at the same data separated into prevalence of Mbps ranges again shows a separation of the two tiers. The top tier ISP each have 80 to 90 percent of the users with an average download speed over 15 Mbps. Time Warner Cable trails the top tier group in its ability to provide 15 Mbps to approximately 80% of its customers. In an attempt to gain a little more insight into the performance of each of the ISPs, we compared the average of all the test results for each PC to the average of the slowest speed reported for each PC. For example, if a given PC had 3 tests in our data set with speed values of 20, 15 and 10 Mbps, the average of all tests would be 15 Mbps. However, the slowest speed would be 10 Mbps. The following chart compares the average of all speed tests to the average of the slowest speed tests for each PC tested. In this chart, the lower the bar the better. Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable both lost about 20% of customers getting the 15 Mbps speeds when using the slowest speed analysis. Time Warner fails to deliver 15 Mbps to almost 39% or their customers when looking at the average slowest test results. The net take away one can draw from this is that when speeds slow down for Time Warner Cable and Charter customers, the slowdown is more pronounced than with any of the other popular ISPs.
Average Desktop and Portable PC Monitor Display Size
Popularity of Monitor SizesOver the pass seven years, larger desktop monitor sizes continues to be the trend. Our data shows that in 2016, over half of all desktop PCs are 20 inches or larger. Large screen LED and LCD monitor prices continue to decline. Another driving force of the larger monitor display size is a reflection of how PCs usage has become more focused on entertainment. Larger screens are often desired for tasks such as streaming video, displaying photographs and playing action games. The portable PC display size landscape show a little different picture. Our analysis below reveals relatively flat display sizes over time. Obviously, the 18 inch and larger displays reflected in the chart below are likely due to external monitors being attached to portable PCs. The data shows that the 15 inch display size represents approximately 75% of the portable PCs in use today. In addition, approximately 15% of users prefer the larger 17 inch displays for their portable needs.
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