1. How do I know if my computer has a virus?

Outlined below are some indications that your computer may be infected:

  • Pop-up Ads
  • Pop-up ads are windows that appear on a computer screen that contain advertisements or other information. Pop-ups typically occur while using your internet browser or after contracting malware. A tell-tale sign of malware is when pop-ups continue even if your browser isn't open.
  • An example of a malicious pop-up is one that says "a virus was detected." If this ad is clicked it may offer you a paid program to remove the virus. Instead you will likely be downloading more malware.
  • Phantom Messages
  • Pay close attention to your email 'sent' folder and all your social networking posts. If you see messages you didn't send or post, change your user names and passwords immediately as your credentials may have been compromised.
  • Alert any of your friends/family that may have received these messages so they can take precautions on their computers.
  • Locked Computer
  • Ransomware is malware that restricts access to your computer and demands a ransom paid for the restrictions to be removed.
  • An example of ransomware: while surfing the Internet a window appears on your computer screen that states your computer has been locked by law enforcement due to illegal content detected.
  • Unfortunately, ransomware often goes undetected with a normal anti-virus program.
  • Your Internet browser keeps crashing or your home page changes.
  • Often if a browser has been compromised this will result in difficulty loaded the program or your home page will be modified to a malicious website.
  • You may also notice toolbars that were installed without your permission.
  • Computer Performance Issues
  • While slow performance could be a sign a hardware upgrade is needed, viruses also degrade system performance by running many tasks and processes which result in a slower CPU.

2. What is Phishing?

Phishing is a type of online fraud by which you are tricked into providing your personal information through your computer. By posing as individuals or organizations you know, "phishers" seek to obtain your computer passwords, credit card numbers or bank account information so they can use them fraudulently.

In most phishing attacks, you will receive an email or pop-up message appearing to be from a company you've done business with or an individual you know. The message may ask you to update, validate, or confirm your bank account information, Social Security number or credit card numbers. Phishing emails frequently have an urgent, demanding tone and encourage you to act right away. The messages direct you to a website that resembles a legitimate organization's site. By following instructions, you are unknowingly providing your person information to a bogus site.

3. What is Pharming?

In the latest version of online identity theft known as pharming, a virus or malicious program is security planted in your computer and hijacks your web browser. When you type the address of a legitimate site, you're taken to a fake copy of the site without realizing it. Any Personal information you provide at the phony site, such as a password or account number, can be stolen and fraudulently used; Pharming is one of the more difficult types on online fraud to detect, and results of harming can be devastating to your finances and your identity.

4. What is Social Engineering?

Social Engineering is a technique used by criminals to gain access to confidential information. These scams can happen online or in person.

Criminals use social engineering to manipulate people by exploiting a person's natural inclination to trust others. Common social engineering attacks include:

  • Phishing emails.
  • Urgent phone calls asking for help (i.e. your friend/relative is stuck in a foreign country and needs money wired to get out).
  • Phone calls from fake charities asking for donations.
  • Phone calls from a fake tech support company alerting your that your computer is infected.
  • Lottery Scams