Last week someone in my family asked me if I could help them with their computer. I asked them what was seemed to be wrong with the machine. They told me that it would start normally at first, but as soon as Windows was done loading they would get a pop-up that they had been infected with a virus that was above the level of what their normal anti-virus could handle. They were told that they needed to pay for this additional coverage to remove the problem. Unfortunately, they continued, and paid for the "extra service."
This person, like so many of us, is not stupid. In fact, they are very intelligent. However, what is taken for granted as basic computer safety knowledge by the younger generations is may be an unknown area of knowledge to those who never created a Word document for a paper in High School, never had a Facebook account that their parents monitored, and were never taught even the fundamentals about Cybersecurity. Today, when the Internet is no longer an option but a necessity for most of us, cyber criminals are finding an easy target in people who may be using the Internet and a personal computer for the first time.
I asked this family member if they had current updated anti-virus security on the computer, and they were not quite sure what I was talking about. This I could believe, as many people who were raised in the age of Internet still don't know the importance of having an anti-virus with updated virus definitions installed on their computers. Good antivirus programs are perhaps the best way to protect yourself (and computer) from many of the threats, including viruses, malware, and cybercrime exploits. This ounce of prevention can save people from spending a pound on a cure.
Unfortunately for my family member, it was "too little, too late" for the prevention approach, and they had to take their computer in to have it fixed. This one event cost much more than an anti-virus program would have cost, not to mention the money paid to the Cybercriminals behind the Ransomware, and the time and frustration of the related computer problems. While it comes as little comfort to my family member now, this story has taught a lesson; use an anti-virus, and keep it up to date, always.
This experience also shows how easy it is to fall for the Ransomware scams, and how important it is to educate people about the current Cybercrime trends. Perhaps the next family night we will not be breaking out the Scrabble, but instead a Power Point presentation on Cybersecurity.
If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center's Anyone3 fundraising campaign. For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.