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Dialing up a scam: avoiding the auto-dialer virus - collateral


For many, the daily walk to the mailbox evokes mixed feelings: The glee that your darling monthly magazine - or a friend's hand-written epistle (quite a amazement in the e-mail age) may be waiting is countered by disquiet of how many bills the postman left you.

Now, dream up advent crosswise your phone bill, thicker and heavier than normal. When you open it, as a replacement for of "statement stuffers" from the phone company's marketing department, the bill is dozens of pages long end in a one-month total of almost $5,400.

A quick glance at the information reveals hundreds of calls to the same 1-900 number. "A mistake," you insist. After all, you're the only being in the house and you have never called a 900 amount before. Actually, this is no mistake. In this true story, the homeowner had fallen victim to one of the oldest laptop scams around: the "Auto-Dialer" virus.

How Did This Central processing unit Defense Nightmare Begin
What is an "auto-dialer"? Some time ago, the phone companies came up with a attribute that allowable merchants to reach a broader range of customers by allowing clients to make payments via your phone bill. If you did not have a belief card, you just dialed a 900 number, allied by voice or modem (for Internet sites). Every detailed you used the service, you were exciting a fee ranging from $1 to $5 or more per minute. At month's end, the accuse appeared on the phone bill. Many armed forces were legit: Regulars called weather, horoscope and gaming air force donation this feature. But many merchants sold classy phone or online adult content.

How Did An Auto-Dialer Get Installed
But how did $5,400 in charges end up on the person's phone bill? Although many of these air force compel the user to physically dial the digit or fix to the online site by instructing the modem to dial the number, this can crop up exclusive of the user's knowledge. In the above case, the person's laptop was infected with an auto-dialer virus. Everyplace at some stage in his Web travels, he connected to a site that popped up a instead baffling implication instructing him to "Hit OK" to make the idea go away. What this character didn't know was he was approving to download,install, and carry out an adult at ease auto-dialer.

Behind the scene, the auto-dialer installed itself, checkered for the aura of a modem and dial tone, and then proceeded to dial an overseas 900 add up to over and over again. Even all the same the being surfed using an always-on broadband Internet connection, the modem remained so he could send and collect faxes. One problem: When he wasn't using the modem, it remained plugged into the phone jack. Why must he have unplugged it? It's not like it could hurt anything, right? Wrong.

How To Guard Yourself
Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to avoid these types of malicious acts. A short list of defensive procedures would include:

1) If you no longer need a modem in your computer, delete it. Or at least disconnect the phone line from the modem;

2) Bed in anti-virus software such as Trend Micro or Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus. Many are intended to check this kind of malicious software, or "Malware. " More importantly, make sure your subscription for new virus patterns is in progress and configured to inevitably download and establish updates;

3) Ensconce and commonly run Adware fortification solutions such as LavaSoft's Ad-Aware or SpyBot Explore & Destroy;

4) And do not, under any circumstances, blindly hit "OK" to pop-ups or alike annoyances devoid of first creation sure what you are in favor to.

This tale is not fiction; in fact, it happens frequently, to businesses and consumers, kids and adults. But even the least savvy among us can hinder such an attack. A area teenager recently avoided potentially thousands in fees when an auto-dialer was downloaded and installed. How? She had unplugged the modem.

About The Author
Darren Miller is an Conscientiousness most important laptop and internet security consultant. At the website - http://www. defendingthenet. com you will find in rank about computer collateral distinctively blueprint to assist home, home business and small commerce cpu users. Sign up for defending the nets newsletter and stay conversant and empowered to stay safe on the Internet. You can reach Darren at mailto:darren. miller@paralogic. net or at mailto:defendthenet@paralogic. net
http://www. defendingthenet. com/NewsLetters/Auto-Dialer-Newsletter. htm


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