“My computer never has bugs. It just develops random features.” – Anon
I am a huge proponent of free stuff on the internet, and use many free pieces of software to debug, repair, clean and tune customers’ computers. I’m also an advocate of education & self reliance when it comes to personal computer ownership and due to my repetitive rants on the subject, many of my customers have made attempts to do so. And failed miserably. However, I contend that it isn’t entirely their fault.
Here’s a perfect example: Recently, several customers have reported an error message on their machine when they booted up. Without going into a lot of techno-babble, the strange looking message was traced back to an issue with iTunes on their Windows driven machines. Some research determined that the best way to fix this problem was to uninstall and then reinstall iTunes. Normally, through simple phone support, I could direct the customer to the Control Panel and easily walk them through an uninstall. Then, for the sake of expedience, I’d send them to Google, tell them to type in iTunes and follow the link(s) to a download. Really, how hard can this be? We’re requesting a link to a vastly popular software program (iTunes), through the supposed number 1 search engine (Google). What can go wrong?
The top item shown says “iTunes Download-Free Download Instant Install”, but in reality it takes you to a crappy site, that will guide you through a series of downloads, meant to install all sorts of crappy things on your computer. Follow that link and….
You’ve just been scammed by a “sponsored ad“.
But how is it that a site full of malware can find its way to the top of a Google search? Simple, they pay Google enough money to put, and keep, it there.
Fall for this scam and you’ll likely need to bring your machine in to have the malware removed, browsers reset and oh yeah, the original iTunes issue fixed.
But wait, maybe I can just as easily direct you to an excellent, free program we use. Malwarebytes. And we can send you to get it through CNet, a great source for free software that shows ranking by editors and users, and supposedly checks all programs for malware ahead of time. Um….. nope.
Go to CNet and search for the free version of Malwarebytes and you end up here:
I’ve placed red arrows to show the 3 (yes three) different “download” buttons available to you. But only 1 will actually download Malwarebytes. Which do you choose? (Hint: not the top 1). The top button, which most average, non savvy users would jump on, and the one on the right side of the page, will download a horrible program called RegClean Pro. This gem will result in multiple pop-ups, false scan results and constant redirects to sites in order to purchase the full version.
Why you ask?
Aaaaannnnnnddddd….once again you’re bringing your machine in for service.
For the time being, I’m going to limit my “self-help” advice to things like assisting you in locating the space bar on your keyboard.
It’s time to leave internet searches up to the experts.
Next up: I Don’t Know Anyone in Antigua…..Yet.