Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Be careful of fake warning messages on your computer

Be careful of fake warning messages on your computer

Dear Charles,

I do a lot of reading each day of tech news, and other computer-related info. I do this for a few reasons -- obviously I have an interest in these things or I wouldn't have gotten into this line of work years ago, but I also like to keep my brain in shape by exercising it with new knowledge (on a variety of topics including, but not limited to computers).

While I'm reading these articles, I like to keep my eye out for any important or valuable info I can pass on to you, my reader. Well, recently I read an interesting, and kind of worrying article that was done at North Carolina State University.

The study showed that most Internet users can't tell the difference between fake popup warning messages, and real messages.

The big problem with this is that there are a lot of websites out there, as well as malicious programs like adware and spyware that can infect your computer (especially if you use Windows instead of a Mac) which will pop up bogus warnings and error messages to try to trick you into installing dangerous programs on your computer without your knowledge.

The study also showed that people were clicking the "OK" button on those windows 63% of the time, even though the people in the study had been warned in advance that they'd be getting bogus messages!

So how do you know what to do to protect yourself?

Well, one rule of thumb is to be suspicious of any windows that suddenly appear on your screen while you're web browsing. *Especially* if the message says anything about installing or downloading software, or scanning your computer for problems.

Most true error messages on Windows computers will pop up from down on the Task Bar, which runs along the bottom of your screen. So if you see a warning message that appears somewhere else on the screen, you should be suspicious of it, and it's usually best to close it with the red X button in the upper corner of the window, and don't click buttons labeled "OK" or "scan computer", or anything else.

If you use a Mac, you tend to get very few true warning messages compared to Windows users, and you should be able to tell which program is giving you the message by looking up on your menu bar next to the Apple Menu (upper left corner of the screen) and read the title of the menu next to the Apple Menu.

The menu immediately to the right of the Apple Menu always will say the name of whichever program you're in, so if you are looking at a window with some sort of warning message in it, and the menu next to the Apple says "Safari" (or "Firefox" if you use Mozilla Firefox instead of Safari to view Web pages) then that's a dead giveaway that the error message is coming from a website and should not be trusted.

In either case (whether you use a Mac or a Windows PC) you should close these error messages by clicking the red close button. This is located in the upper left corner of a Mac window, and in the upper right corner of a Windows window.

And one more thing -- when you click the close button, make sure you click the real one.

Believe it or not, some of the people out there who are trying to scam you with those false warnings will go so far as to put a fake close button inside the window, hoping you click the fake close button and end up installing the dangerous software anyway! The real close button will always be in the top corner of the window, not lower down.

So hopefully these tips will help you stay safe and avoid problems.

Of course, the best way to avoid problems is to arm yourself with knowledge. If you haven't done so yet, you can educate yourself in a simple, easy way with my easy computer lesson CDs.

Due to popular demand, I've made a comprehensive list of each and every one of my quick & easy Plain English computer lessons in my bundles of lesson CDs, which you can see by visiting the following page on my site...

If you have an Apple Mac (including MacBook, iMac, iBook, etc.) then go to:

or if you have a Windows PC (Sony, HP, Dell, etc.), go to:

until next time, stay safe, and enjoy,

Worth Godwin

P.S. If you've been thinking about getting my easy computer lesson CDs, click on the link for your type of computer ASAP -- I'm going to be raising the price on my bundles of CDs in a few days, so you don't want to miss out on saving on these lessons while you can.

The links again are:

If you have an Apple Mac (including MacBook, iMac, iBook, etc.) then go to:

or if you have a Windows PC (Sony, HP, Dell, etc.), go to:

I respect your right to privacy and to only get email that you want. If you need to unsubscribe from my newsletter, please use the first link below. If you need to change your email address, use the second link.

Please note that if you're a Gold Club member, this will not cancel your Gold Club membership. However, if you unsubscribe from the Gold Club newsletter, it may cause problems with delivery of your CDs since it is what I have to go by to print out your shipping information.

Godwin Productions LLC

81-1039 Keopuka Heights Rd.
Kealakekua, HI

If you no longer wish to receive communication from us:

To update your contact information:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for understanding that we need to prevent the nasties.

Terms of Use

Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.