It's a dangerous technological world
The shady underworld of those who unleash detrimental computer programs is now worse than ever. The perpetrators have advanced their evil craft to a point where average computer users, (and even advanced ones), are often incapable of combating the nefarious programs. This marks a technological point where decisive responses are necessary if the very usefulness of computers is to continue. As individual users, the majority of us are not able to effect the change that is ultimately required to rid technology of attacks. Luckily, the evil doers have entered into alliances with electronic commerce agents. It is through these that technology can be saved.
In the earliest days of technology, viruses, trojans and other unwanted computer attacks, were rare. As networking advanced, such programs, (collectively known as "Malware"), became established, then common. As first, malware simply existed to deliver a particular message or to wreck havoc of some kind upon unsuspecting users. Later, as malware sophistication grew, threats began to cause more damage, use more network bandwidth or gather financial data for the eventual gain of malware perpetrators. As society begins to move towards the 5oth anniversary of networked computing, malware has evolved into a vastly more terrifying problem.
The worst of the modern malware programs disguise themselves as realistic utilities, system messages or other familiar applications. They appear to be legitimate to most every user. Of course, they are offer the indicated service. Often, they want your credit card number or they have other goals in mind. These programs have taken their design to new levels, (or depths). Some of them appear helpful, but at best they merely steal information and then go dormant. Some are designed to evade removal.
One modern malware program is known as "Windows Maintenance Suite". This malware poses as a malware detecting program. At various times, it will pop up warning screens indicating that the host computer is infected by some kind of problem. It is, but the malware is only going to fabricate a false warning. The warning is shown with a button that advises users to "Perform a full scan", or a similar message. If the button is clicked, the malware program reports that a full version of a utility must be purchased in order to actually perform the scan. If users cancel the operation, the warning goes away, only to re-appear shortly afterwards. "Windows Maintenance Suite" represents a new kind of threat that must be eliminated. If you see the messages from this malware, do not give this program your credit card number. If you do, you will be billed for many additional "services" and your credit card account will be damaged or even locked out by your service provider. Regardless, you will spend a lot of time trying to reverse resulting charges.
Unfortunately, this program seeks to evade removal. There are several utilities available which can remove the malware. It is not possible to do this directly, though. The computer system must be booted in safe mode. There must be some alterations to network settings. If your computer is infected, and you are not familiar with booting in Windows safe mode, you should consult an expert to remove this malware.
If you want to remove the malware yourself, you may want to download Malwarebytes and follow the instructions provided very carefully. Be aware, however, that the program is capable of preventing the execution of utilities that seek to help you. You will not be able to run the task manager, for example. You may not be able to run Malwarebytes directly. This is a difficult malware to remove. As mentioned, if you are not familiar with these steps, you should find a good computer service person.
With the sophistication of malware now, it is time for defensive technology to meet the challenge. This is a very difficult problem, one which has become harder over time, not easier. Most anti-virus, anti-malware and similar utilities are only effective once a number of computer users have been affected. The best help is that which prevents initial infection. This is, as stated, quite difficult. Every computer should have a good set of security programs installed to help combat most of the known attack mechanisms. Every user should regularly backup their computer in order to preserve data in case an attack occurs.
There are many steps that a computer user can take to protect themselves from future attacks. Never run a program which has been sent to you in an email, with rare exceptions. If a very well known computer technician, who is responsible for system work, instructs you to do so, you may be safe. For all other emails, do not run attachments. In practically every case, the program will be bogus. If not, you should be able to go to the source and get the program yourself. There is no way to absolutely guarantee the safety of an emailed program. If you go to a reputable web site, and initiate the download of a program yourself, you increase your computer safety significantly.
You should never give your credit card number to anyone who asks for it via an email message. You should also not offer your card number to a program which pops up and asks for it. These are aggressive tactics that are in use by malware applications now. Instead, if you want to purchase something, (a product or a computer program), you should go to a reputable web site and you should initiate the process. With the difficulty there is in determining validity of email, compared to spam, messages, you should not take any chances. You should always control your electronic commerce transactions as much as possible.
Ultimately, the population of computer users is at risk from ever improving nefarious malware developers. By protecting yourself with good computing habits, up to date security programs and full backups, you are doing what you can to lessen the impact of malware writers. The next level of protection should be developed by the credit card companies. There are easy steps they can make to ultimately protect the electronic commerce channels and deny access to malware.