Avoid scareware at all costs/Stop using the same password everywhere.

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Accessed on 29 September 2021, 0528 UTC.

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PCMag SecurityWatch
Don’t Get Scammed by Scareware
My grandmother was a wise and capable woman. She raised two children and put them through school; volunteered with her church groups; and led her community. When my parents gifted her with a computer, she took to it like a fish to water, firing off emails to her friends, her children, and me, her beloved grandchild. One evening, I noticed a change in the tone of her daily message. She wrote that after opening an email and clicking on a website link, she now had pop-up windows pressuring her to pay for security software to get rid of the viruses on her machine.

Being a reasonable person, she deduced this was probably a scam, but didn’t know how to make the pop-ups stop. My dad took care of the problem quickly by killing the open browser window using Task Manager. But what if my grandmother hadn’t had someone to help her? What if she had instead installed the fake security software? This is a real, and unfortunately common, scenario.

Scareware is a type of scam that scares and bullies victims into paying for any number of fake services. If you fall for scareware, the best case scenario is that you shell out some money for a piece of software that’s functionally useless. The worst case scenario is that you pay for a fraudulent service that deploys real malware on your system. In another variation of this fraud, the perpetrator will contact you directly and threaten to expose your unsavory online activities unless you pay them a hefty ransom.

Lead Security Analyst Neil J. Rubenking’s story on scareware discusses all the ways to spot the sneaky scammer tricks. One way to protect yourself from scareware tactics is to use security software vetted by experts. We have plenty of recommendations for security suites and some don’t cost even a dime. You also need to ensure your VPN works properly because you don’t want to give scammers any chance of monitoring your online activities. Our top-rated VPNs can help you enjoy a private browsing experience.

If you use common sense and maintain vigilant privacy habits online, you can avoid being a fraudster’s victim. In addition, take time to educate your family members about scareware scams. These conversations are essential to saving yourself time, money, and anxiety in the long run.

Stay safe,

Kim Key
PCMag Security Analyst

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Why You Should Stop Using the Same Password on Multiple Sites
When did you last change your password? That’s a trick question because you shouldn’t have just one password that you use across multiple sites. Instead, you need to create a distinct, complex, and hard-to-guess password for every service you use. We don’t expect you to memorize all of those credentials on your own, however; use a password manager to help you create and keep track of all your logins.

Unfortunately, results from one of our recent surveys indicate that you are ignoring our password advice, which wounds us a little. Not adopting strong password management habits now will surely hurt you in the future.

If a malicious individual ever gets their hands on your password for a site that uses a duplicate password, they can then gain access to all your other accounts and wreak havoc. 54% of you already know this because you’ve been a victim of cybercrime. Mitigate the damage by adding another layer of protection to your accounts with multifactor authentication.

Features Editor Eric Griffith implores you to change your passwords and has the statistics on how you’re choosing to protect your data online. An alarming 70% of respondents say they use the same password for more than one site and 21% of those people say they do this all of the time.

We hope that the statistics in our report encourage you to make security-conscious decisions about your online safety. Tell us more about what you’re doing to keep safe online in the comments.

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Russ Roberts