You’re working at your computer when all of a sudden — BAM! — you get a pop-up notification that your PC is infected with a virus and you must “click here” to run a scan or install antivirus software. This is a common scareware tactic used by hackers to get you to click and download a virus. You should know that a legitimate source would never deliver that type of pop-up to you.
Often it will appear to be a system alert or a Microsoft operating system alert. Regardless of how legitimate it looks, never click on the site or the pop-up. The safest thing to do is close your browser. Do not click on the X, “Close” or “Cancel” button in the pop-up or on the site; clicking on anything on the page or pop-up will trigger a virus download.
If that won’t work, bring up your task manager (hold Control + Alt + Delete on a PC or Command + Option + Esc to “Force Quit” on a Mac) and close the web browser or application where the pop-up appeared. Next, notify your IT department or provider that this happened, so a staffer can double-check with a legitimate scan if your computer was infected.
Alan Edwards, CISM, is chief information officer at Computerware, Inc., in Vienna, Virginia.