There’s malware, from the words malicious and software, which is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s consent, adware, which is a package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used, spyware, which can collect personal information without the owners consent, and now scareware.
You’ve probably seen it. They are usually pop-ups which inform you that your computer has some sort of corruption, with messages such as ‘CRITICAL ERROR MESSAGE! – REGISTRY DAMAGED AND CORRUPTED’. These pop-ups are often very difficult to get rid of!
You are then advised to click on a link to buy some sort of registry cleaning kit to clean and protect your computer from unwarranted intrusion.
The authors of these misleading pop-ups are preying on internet users by using messages which, to many people, appear to be system warnings, in effect scaring them into buying some sort of product to fix a problem which doesn’t actually exist. Many of the ‘free scan’ pop-up offers are similarly designed as a scare tactic.
A recent study showed that most internet users are unable to tell the difference between genuine and fake pop-up messages and, despite being told that some of the messages were fake, some 63% still hit the OK button.