The email messages tell the unsuspecting user that "Microsoft has been alerted by your Internet company that your system is showing signs of infection," and advising that a security check is run on the computer:
Of course, clicking on the link contained inside the email is a very bad idea, especially for anyone who can't resist acting on the following message:
Yes, you've guessed it. This is another example of a fake antivirus or scareware attack, designed to frighten users into parting with their hard-earned cash by displaying bogus security warnings. The free scan will claim to find malware on your computer, and then scare you into purchasing a "remedy" from the hackers.
The irony is that the more we teach computer users about the importance of information security and raise their awareness of Internet threats, the greater the temptation for the hackers to take advantage of their heightened awareness by scaring people into spending money unnecessarily.
And if the hackers are prepared to use dishonorable means to display their bogus warnings in the first place, then how can you feel confident they won't do something illegal with your credit card if you do buy their "clean-up" software?
Graham Cluley is senior technology consultant at Sophos, and has been working in the computer security field since the early 1990s. When he's not updating his other blog on the Sophos website you can find him on Twitter at @gcluley. Special to Dark Reading.