“I was afraid something like this would happen.”
Kathy Morris, a contractor for a major corporate training company who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, was glad there was a McAfee® technician a quick phone call away one Saturday morning. She had just logged onto the Internet using her daughter Carrie’s computer, but instead of seeing the normal home page, she was faced with a blaring warning page she had never seen before.
“Carrie uses Yahoo as her home page, but when I connected to the web I was
redirected to a strange page telling me the computer was at serious risk for all
these awful viruses,” Kathy said. “I was confused and nervous. We hadn’t
gotten around to installing McAfee on my daughter’s computer yet, and in the
back of my mind I was afraid something like this would happen.”
Kathy runs McAfee Internet Security on her
laptop because she knows it’s crucial to keep her business files protected
when working at home. Her system is shielded from a full range of online threats,
including identity theft, viruses, spyware, email scams, hackers, and more. But
she had not taken the security on her daughter’s computer as seriously since
it’s only used for email and entertainment. She hadn’t yet installed
McAfee’s eight-in-one security software on it, and the hijacked page was a
warning sign that there was big trouble.
“Since I use my computer for work, it’s imperative that it stay protected—that’s
why I’ve used McAfee’s products for years,” she says. “I
always follow safety recommendations for staying away from questionable sites, guarding
my personal information, etc. But, I know my daughter is probably not as careful
when using her PC.”
Kathy discovered that her daughter had downloaded music from sites she had linked
to from MySpace.com. Kathy knew this was risky online behavior for an unprotected
computer, and contacted McAfee technical support for guidance.
The McAfee technician explained that most likely when Carrie downloaded the music,
she also inadvertently downloaded a browser-hijacking program that piggybacked onto
her computer from the file. Some nefarious organizations use such deceit to sell
their products or steal data.
Once the hijacking program self-installed, trouble ensued. Each time Carrie connected
to the Internet, it re-routed her to a web page that was designed to scare her into
visiting a web site that sold products that would “fix” her computer
problems. She had been too afraid to tell her mother about the problem, but luckily
she hadn’t yet clicked on anything on the hijacker’s page.
The McAfee technician explained that the products might be phony and possibly a
trick to steal financial or identity-related information, like Social Security or
credit card numbers. These malware products may also have further compromised the
computer if she had purchased or installed them.
“I didn’t quite know what to do without the technician’s help,”
Kathy confessed. “I knew I shouldn’t try to reset anything without talking
to him since I didn’t know what actions would lead to what consequences. I
was thinking—if I just try to reset the browser page to get rid of the hijacker’s
page, will that cause some other part of the virus program to be activated?”
Kathy’s first step was to download McAfee Internet
Security for her daughter’s computer. Once installed, it restored
the computer’s proper settings, and automatically ran a virus scan to locate
and eradicate the rogue program. It also immediately went to work arranging her
system to guard against any new threats.
“McAfee also found other viruses, spyware, and adware on my daughter’s
computer, which it quickly removed,” she said. “I had no idea her system
was that compromised. I’m just so thankful I didn’t use her computer
earlier to email my work files or pay bills. Who knows what could have happened
to my information on an unprotected system!”
Kathy now knows the importance of installing strong security on every computer in
the house. “My daughter’s computer is working fine now and I know it
could have been a lot worse,” she said. “Now that we’re both protected
with McAfee, I won’t have another scary situation like this to deal with.”
McAfee Internet Security includes McAfee VirusScan®,
McAfee Personal Firewall, McAfee SiteAdvisor™,
McAfee SpamKiller, McAfee Parental Controls, and McAfee Data Backup. Available via
subscription, the software suite is continually and automatically updated, defending
against the newest types of attacks.
“There’s just too much of an unknown out there and I need to protect
my work files, and of course, my family. I set the parental controls in the security
suite myself, so I’m sure my kids aren’t looking at inappropriate sites
[now] or allowing questionable downloads,” Kathy concluded.
Consumers can avoid the types of web sites that led to the hijacking of Kathy and
Carrie’s computer by making sure all computers are protected. McAfee SiteAdvisor can also be downloaded;
this powerful and free web site safety rating tool can let users know whether sites
are safe or if they need to exercise caution and avoid visiting, not to mention
clicks and downloads. For the most complete way to keep your children safe online, use McAfee Family Protection. It keeps children of all ages safe from exposure to inappropriate content, social networking risks, strangers, and other online threats.
Interview conducted by Contos Dunne, Communications LLC, December 2006.