One of the most common ways that scammers use to gain access to your PC is a fake driver or program update notice.  These pop-up ads look very much like a genuine notice that you need an update.

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When you click on them you might be taken to a site that wants you to download some unnecessary driver update  software. Or you might get tricked into downloading a toolbar that you don’t want or need or resetting your homepage to a search engine you don’t want.

This is not necessarily damaging to your PC, but it inconvenient and a royal pain in the behind to remove.

In a worst-case-scenario, you could be infecting your PC with malware, spyware or even ransomware that locks down your PC.

I got one of these  fake notices not too long. After watching the series finale of American Idol, I decided to drown in a wave of nostalgia by searching for YouTube video of performances from the show. While I was enjoying a Kelly Clarkson video, a notice popped up warning me that I was missing an important driver.

fake-driver-notice-

At first glance, this looks legitimate. But a closer look reveals some problems. First of all, I wasn’t having any issues with my PC or peripherals that would indicate I was missing a driver. While this pop-up looks similar to an actual Windows notification, if I look closely there’s a problem. This notice doesn’t say which drivers are missing. Just a general “a required driver may be missing.”

fake-driver-not-specific

In very faint print, you can see “Ads By Google.” That indicates that this is a pop-up ad inserted by Google.

ads-by-google-fine-print

If I hover my mouse over the pop-up (without clicking on the Fix now button), I can get some more information about it.

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I can see that this comes from Google Ad Services.

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Making standard Windows updates should be enough to keep your drivers up-to-date. If you believe you may be missing a driver for a particular device, type ‘Device Manager’ in your search box and click on the results. Then select the device you’re having a problem with.

device-manager

Right-click and you’ll see a menu. Click Update Driver Software to search for driver updates.

right-click-device-manager

Be very careful about clicking on update notices. You can always go back to any program later to see if it needs an update.

~ Cynthia