Westchester PC Users Group Warns of Growing Computer Malware/Virus Threats

Basic Self-Help Protection Measures Reduce Threat;  Villains Target Seniors by Pretending to be Helpers

A malware warning appears without warning on a browser asking to press the scan “start” button, which would be a mistake

A Westchester community computer non-profit is warning the public that  while home computer virus threats are on the upswing, there are easy, protective measures that all of us can take. The Westchester PC Users Group (WPCUG) alerts that scammers, hackers and other bad actors increasingly employ fake emails, fake alerts that pop up when viewing legitimate websites, telephone scams and anti-virus marketers peppering cyberspace with hard-sell sales messages.

All these literally touch all the homes in the region—and particularly try to trick untrained senior citizens into downloading malicious software. WPCUG president and former career IBMer Pierre Darmon, who is a computer consultant based in White Plains, senses a false sense of security by home users who think that computer viruses are aimed only at big companies and big industry.

Darmon said that all home computer users on websites can encounter a takeover of their web browser software by scammers with large-size messages such as “your computer may be infected” and other chilling warnings.

“This is scary because it makes you think that you’ve lost control of your computer since it is a full-screen message,” says Darmon. “And there’s a worry that the scammers may have done some more serious damage in the background.”

In reality, the scammers have only put the user’s browser in full screen mode that makes it difficult to close the page. WPCUG advises that users can make a safe exit most of the time by pressing on their keyboards Alt-F4 (on Windows) and Cmd-Q (on macOS). That closes the browser altogether and lets users regain control of their computer; after such force-closing, the browser can then be reopened.

Browsers are software to surf the internet such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge for Windows, and Apple Safari for macOS. Malware (a contraction of the phrase “malicious software”) is software that is harmful. One…