Most people know the importance of keeping their computers safe from malware. What most don’t know is that there are crooks who take advantage of this concern to try and get you to install products that don’t really do anything in terms of security or system performance.
For example, a product may claim to make your computer run faster. Other products may notify you that they have found malware on your computer and urge you to buy the premium version. Still others may actually download malware on your computer and ask you to download their product in order to clean your machine!
So, how do you identify fake antivirus and system cleaning apps? Here’s how.
1. Watch The Language Used
The language used can sometimes be a dead giveaway that you might be dealing with a dud. You wouldn’t expect a professional software company to make obvious spelling mistakes in their copy.
Also, look out for poorly constructed and punctuated sentences. If a company has spent lots of time and money developing a software product, they can afford to invest some time and money in proofreading services. If you find language used is not up to standard, that’s your cue to close the page fast. You can also check to see if the site’s content has been copied from another authoritative site by using free plagiarism detection tools available online.
2. Do You Really Need the Features Offered?
If you are buying an antivirus software solution or system cleaning application, the product should focus on doing its core job. If you see a product offering features that aren’t core, for example, GPS tracking, scanning duplicate files and so forth, you might want to sit back and ask yourself if you really need these additional features.
Is the marketing copy using too much scare tactics? Professionals convince you by identifying a problem and demonstrating how their product solves the problem. They don’t sell using fear appeals alone but temper fear with reassurance. But, anyone flashing a pop-up in bright red on your computer urging you to download to stay safe may actually be up to no good. Be wary of anything that feels slightly manipulative.
4. Weird Claims
I’m sure you have seen marketing copy where a company claims their software is worth $700 but you can have it for $29. Ask yourself, why on earth would someone sell something for less than tenth its true value? It simply makes no sense. Unscrupulous marketing copy is often an indication that you dealing with an unprincipled entity and you will more than likely end up with a fake product.
5. Find Out Who Owns the Product
Internet security companies are well known. You should only buy products from well known companies with a proven track record. There are a number ways to find out who owns a product. Go to the contact page. If the information is not available on their website, that should make you think twice. You could also do web search and find out if they have been reviewed by independent third parties. Well known companies will also have an extensive Wikipedia listing.
6. Check Testing and Verification Sites
There are a number of websites that test antivirus and other software products to see if they perform as claimed by the software maker. If in doubt, check these sites and see what they have to say about the product.
7. What Functionalities Does Your Computer Already Have?
Your computer may already be able to do some of the things the software claims it can do. For example:
• You don’t need a program to let you know when other programs need to update. Windows and Mac’s already do this by default.
• It is also a myth that registry cleaners can improve your computer’s performance. In fact, registry cleaning can cause serious problems.
The best way to find out if your computer can do what the product claims is to do a web search of the feature. Being knowledgeable about your computer’s features will save you money.
Most of the warning signs of fake software are obvious if you know what to look out for. But, the most important thing to do is to conduct some basic research of any software product before you download it. Web search is a skill that everyone should have. Experienced users don’t take this for granted but less experienced users can be duped into buying fake or useless software by simple failing to carry out due diligence.