Rogue software or applications are forms of Internet fraud using computer malware to trick users into revealing financial and social account details or paying for bogus products. As their name suggests, these fraudulent programs go “rogue” on the internet, appearing in simple internet searches and on social networks. Because of their misleading nature, they are definite reasons for getting genuine antivirus protection.
Rogue virus or antivirus?
Many threats can surface while you’re browsing the web.
We’ve mentioned and stressed “genuine antivirus protection” above, because rogue software usually comes disguised as antivirus protection programs – fake antivirus protection, for that matter. This is the most common facet it takes on.
Rogue security software, also known as rogueware or scareware, has become a serious PC threat in recent years. It displays misleading warning messages about virus or spyware infections that, in reality, do not exist. And in order to have their computers “cleaned-up”, users are urged to pay for downloading the full version of the (supposedly) highly effective antivirus tool.
Often times rogueware has a Trojan component that you can pick up in your web searches. This Trojan can take on various forms: a browser toolbar, a screensaver, a free online malware scanning service, a multimedia program supposedly necessary for viewing a certain clip etc. It can also be attached to e-mails or PDF viewers. Once installed, it starts alerting you that your computer is infected with a virus or spyware, and recommends the installation of a fake antivirus protection program or fake antispyware tool.
In some cases, you can stumble upon banner-ads that falsely warn you that your computer has been infected, and entice you to download the trial version of a bogus antivirus or antispyware program. Once installed, the software starts prompting other alerts of virus infections, convincing you to buy the “full” version of the bogus antivirus software. So you end up handing over financial data for an antivirus protection program that does not actually remove malware. In fact, it may add more.
Other types of rogue software are “drive-by downloads” – they download and install themselves silently without any user intervention at all, usually by exploiting browser vulnerabilities.
Examples of rogueware: PCSecureSystem, AntivirusMaster, SpyMarshal.
Malicious apps getting rogue on Facebook
Not only web-browsing can prove troublesome, but also social networking.
Facebook has been a major target for third-party rogue applications designed to get account information from users, in a deceitful manner. They usually take on the form of an additional Facebook feature or functionality, accompanied by enticing messages such as “wooow now I have seen how many hours I spend on Facebook… to find your time click here”, “Check how many people have viewed your profile OMG”, or “Amazing! I’ve just seen who STALKS me on Facebook. You can too!” Once you click on “Allow” to install the app, you grant permission to access your account information, and consequently, send the same message/app invite to your friends. Such rogue apps are usually spread via chat messages, comments, status updates, and even photo tags.
Here are some tips on how to avoid rogue infections while web-browsing and networking:
- Don’t fall for scare tactics. Pop-up banners warning you that your PC is infected and offering you a paid/trial antivirus program to clean it up are definitely signs of rogueware. If you have full antivirus protection on your PC from a trusted vendor, you can ignore such fake alerts.
- For safe browsing, it’s crucial that you have a Link Scanner to show safe search results in search engines and on social media. Also, a Spamfilter is necessary to sort out ill-intended e-mails. BullGuard Antivirus 12 comes with both features.
- Keep all your PC programs up to date, especially your antivirus software and your favourite search engine.
- Be very selective with the Facebook apps you install. If an app asks you for too many permissions, total access to your Facebook account, including Facebook Chat or the right to manage your Pages or Events, then most definitely it’s a rogue app. Avoid it. Also, you should consider removing your home address and mobile phone number from your Facebook profile.
- If you’ve installed a rogue app, clean up your Facebook newsfeed and remove the app from your Facebook account. Consider changing your password as well.
- To avoid having your PC infected with malware, including rogueware, install an effective antivirus protection program. We naturally recommend BullGuard. The dual engine which combines Behavioural and Signature-based detection methods offers proactive protection against all types of malware.
- If you are in doubt at all, contact the support service of your internet security provider. They will be able to ascertain whether you’re infected or not, and help you with what to do next.