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Fake Alerts

Probably one of the easiest ways bad guys hack your computer is by not hacking it at all! Did you ever think about just how much you're trusting someone when you install a program or application?

Programmers can hide secret code that steals your passwords, remotely controls your computer, or worse. If you want to be safe on your computer, the most important thing of all is to not get tricked into installing the bad code because if you do, no amount of security software will be able to help you.

Install Alerts

Do you want to install this? Suuuurrre you do....
Do you want to install this? Suuuurrre you do....

You might see an alert about "content being blocked" or "install warning" usually preceded by a webpage explaining how the game you want to play or the content you want to access will trigger an alert, but you shouldn't worry and just click "OK".

Instead, when you see these, realize this is your last chance to prevent bad stuff from being installed on your computer! If you don't know exactly what page you're on, who owns it, what they're trying to install and why, stay away.

A Java install alert. Tread carefully
A Java install alert. Tread carefully

Fake Alerts

Another common problem is a website that you visit that uses pop-ups or another trick to show you a window that seems like a virus or system alert but isn't.

Some are sophisticated animations that make it seem like it's scanning your computer and warns you to go and download a different antivirus to fix it.

While it may look very authentic if you click it or follow its instructions, you'll do the hacker's job for them by downloading or installing their bad code or them.

Defeating fakes

Weird... My video worked a minute ago. Why wouldn't it now? Hmm....
Weird... My video worked a minute ago. Why wouldn't it now? Hmm....

Here's the simplest trick I know for dealing with fakes. It's easy enough that kids or adults who are new to the net (or just less experienced) can easily handle fakes.

Whenever there's an alert, the first thing you should do is close all your Internet windows. If the alert is fake, it will disappear when the browser windows are closed.

The key is that you have to close the browser windows from the taskbar. Just right-click each window one at a time and click "Close" from the menu that appears. Once they're all closed, if the alert disappears, it was fake and you can move on with your life as if nothing happened!

One after another until they're all gone.
One after another until they're all gone.

Of course, there's the matter of why the fake appeared in the first place! It was probably the websites you visited so avoid them in the future. Otherwise, you might have spyware on your computer. Here's how you can tell:

Defeating non-browser fakes

Either snuck in on other software or by using other clever tricks, a bad guy might be able to pop up a REAL alert, but one that contains bogus data. For example, this one:

You're in trouble! Just go to this website and all will be well... sure.
You're in trouble! Just go to this website and all will be well... sure.

For the most part, you need to recognize that they're fakes. Anything that asks you to go and download something is probably fake. Anything that tells a website you need to go to fix something is probably fake.

In these cases, it's best to ignore the alert, but run your anit-spyware and anti-virus to search for any bad code that might have snuck in.

In Conclusion

It's easier to trick people into visiting a bad website, downloading, or installing bad code than to break into a well-defended computer. The best defense is to learn to recognize the fake information from the real and don't fall for it!

If they could have hacked you without your help, they'd have done it already. Don't do their job for them and fall for these tricks!
IDENTITY THEFT
How to Steal Identities - Why It's So Easy
Credit Freeze
Data Defense
Credit Monitoring
Id Theft Insurance
The Identity Theft Victim's Mini-Guide to Recovery
PRIVACY
The Geek Privacy Principle
Nothing to Hide
Data Abuse
RFID - Radio Frequency IDentification
Privacy Alias/Persona
Data Defense
INTERNET SAFETY
Online Addiction
The Consequences of Posting Online
Photo Safety
Tricks and Scams
Account Hijacking
Trusting Companies
PASSWORDS
Bad Passwords
Password Tips and Tricks
Password Protection
Password Mugging
Computer Security
E-mail Safety
Kids and Computers
Shopping Online
Retailers
All About Warranties