You’re well into your morning routine – coffee in hand, checking your email, reading Facebook – when a security prompt pops up on your computer screen. You’ve never seen this sort of alert before, but right at the top, it says “Microsoft Security Essentials Alert.” Microsoft Security Essentials, or MSE, is Microsoft’s free anti-virus software available as a download on Microsoft’s website. MSE is a legitimate piece of antivirus software, but is this a legitimate alert? How do you know for sure?
Recently, a client contacted us with this very question, and he was smart to do so. In this instance, the security prompt he received was a spoof of MSE, and had he clicked on the “Clean computer” button he would have downloaded malware onto his machine. Approaching a popup like this with extreme caution is smart, and you should thoroughly examine any message like this you receive. Often, you will find errors in spelling or language that will flag the message as a spoof.
Is The Microsoft Security Essentials Alert Real?
Take a look at the popup. It looks very convincing, but with a keen and suspicious eye, you’ll spot a misspelling. The sentence structure is a bit stilted, as well. And the download prompt is odd, though many people would not recognize it as such. All in all, it seems to have been created by someone who doesn’t have the same command of the English language as a native speaker might.
Even if the spelling and language is correct, another easy way to check a popup is to hover your mouse over clickable items and observe the destination at the bottom of your browser. If it doesn’t match up with the subject matter or expected destination of the popup, be wary.
Viruses and malware are big threats to cyber-security, and the better educated you are about the methods used to entice users, the better you will be able to protect yourself. At the very least, approach all popups and similar messages with a suspicious eye, and don’t click on anything that you are not 100% sure about. And above all, install and use anti-virus software that is suitable for your personal computing habits. There are a number of excellent anti-virus solutions available; do your research and choose the one that best fits your needs.