Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Phoney warnings

Virusvarning1

If a "Google" message turns up on your mobile/cellphone screen saying that your phone is getting infected by viruses and you have only five minutes to stop it from completely locking your phone and stealing all your info (with a clock ticking dramatically in the background) - don't panic. It's a fake message. (Do NOT click on the "remove virus" link.)

I got one like this a few days ago. And of course it had to happen late at night, when I was just about to turn off the phone and go to sleep… I did somehow feel that it was probably just a hoax – but the countdown really is very stressful. My Scarlet O’Hara-style* response was to just shut the phone off completely; because whether fake or real, I'd probably be better able to deal with the consequences in the daytime!

*(“I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Famous quote from Gone With the Wind.)

The next morning, I did some research from my laptop, and found support for the suspicion that it was a fake message. If there is a virus involved at all, that would be in the app that they tell you  to download. However, if you do nothing, and just let the clock run down to 0:00 – NOTHING happens. (Some brave tech guy put that to the test in a YouTube video.)

So I had zero problems opening my phone again, and it was working just fine. Without downloading any extra cleaning software, I manually cleared cache memory in the browsers I use on it + Facebook (not being sure from which browser that page had turned up for me – but I think it did happen via Facebook). I thought that should have cleared the history, but today I found the web page was still there in the memory of my Chrome browser. Now I have also separately cleared the browser history (synced with other devices) and hope I’m rid of it. Phew. Even when virus warnings are fake, they still do steal a lot of time!

However – trying to find a bright side – I did manage free up some memory space on the phone in the process… (No virus, just accumulated “stuff”).

The image collage made by me, using screenshots I found in my “research”. (Some details crossed out by me.) I think what makes one panic the most, besides the countdown, is that they seem to be able to correctly identify what type of phone you’re on. On the warning that came up for me, it did not just say “Android device” but the exact type of phone that I have. Which does make one think at first that the pop-up message really comes from some built-in security within the device.

12 comments:

  1. that would scare me to death even though i would be sure it was a scam, still scary. it is easy for them to tell the type phone because when we go to google play or apple apps, it says not good for LG phone. i went to apple apps to look at something for someone who has an apple phone, at it said will not work with your LG phone. when i am on the desk top and go to google play, it will show a list of all my devices and which one the app can be used on. IT KNOWS. which is scary all by itself. glad you got the phone all cleared and safe

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    Replies
    1. Sandra, I agree that "IT" is rather scary all by itself, sometimes ;)

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  2. Replies
    1. The sad thing is that each time something like that appears, one still has to investigate, just to make sure... :(

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  3. Good for you! The people who do this kind of thing seemingly get nothing out of it, they do it just to cause trouble. It's a crazy world.

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    Replies
    1. It's a modern kind of "prank call", I suppose... The trouble is, there may be real scams behind some (like real viruses hidden in a link).

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  4. I've gotten something similar on my Kindle, I just shut it down and start over.

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    Replies
    1. Yes that probably works with this one.

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  5. My browsers on all devices (desktop PC, iPad, iPhone) are all set so that their caches are emptied every time I exit the browser. This may mean some pages take a little longer to load when I next access them, but I rather spend those few extra moments than have "bad stuff" in my cache.
    Also, it is a good idea to make sure you really log out of everything when you turn off your device - be it your facebook, email, blogger or other account. Yes, it is a little inconvenient to have to log in every time again, but well worth the trouble, I find.

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    Replies
    1. Logging out of every account every time I turn off a device would be way too inconvenient for me. I do that with some, but not all. (Extra security where money is involved, of course.)

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  6. One of the advantages of Apple is that, relative to other platforms, there are few iPhones and Macs around so they tend to be less of a target for the spammers.

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    Replies
    1. I've never had any Apple devices myself, Graham, so I don't really know much about the difference.

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