Have you seen one of these lately?
If you have, you are not alone. These pop-ups are called scareware and their sole purpose is to try and trick consumers into downloading malicious pieces of software or contacting a malicious entity who will then try to secure personal or financial information. Scareware has been around for a while but instances of consumers coming across it are on the rise due to the growth of malvertisements.
A malvertisement is a malicious advertisement created to either drop malware on a susceptible device automatically or scare users in to installing bogus software. There has been a huge increase in the distribution of these advertisements over the past few years as ad networks have started to resell space through other providers resulting in less stringent checks on the content pushed through these sites. This is why you can be browsing a perfectly safe and legitimate site like Mashable or CNN and still run in to a scareware pop-up.
If you see one of these popups check to see if the advert is displayed in the browser or on the computer itself. If it is in the browser than you likely have nothing to worry about so long as you haven’t clicked on any of the links. If you are worried that your computer may be infected, run a malware scan. If the advert is running outside of the browser, than it is likely that your device may already have malware. Make sure you take all the necessary steps to remove the malware from your machine and refrain from sharing any financial information or logging in to any sensitive sites until your device is free and clear.
Cyber criminals are always trying new methods and thinking of clever ways to trick people in to downloading malware or sharing valuable information. Always be on the alert and if you get a pop-up asking you to download something on input valuable information, it is likely a scam.