I have been seeing fake browser updates popping up from advertisements on otherwise legit sites here lately, especially on links posted on Facebook.
These often pop up with a logo of the browser you’re using and a legitimate looking background, and say something to make you think your computer it at risk if you don’t download the update immediately. Like the image here that says “Urgent Firefox update.” The file it was trying to download was “urgent security patch.exe”
If you see one of these, don’t download it. Your browser does not update in this manner. Internet Explorer is updated through Windows Update, while Firefox and Chrome are updated in the background while they run. Automatically or manually, depending on your settings; but they will never ask you to download an executable file while you’re browsing.
It’s no telling what you might get if you install one of these. If you have a good antivirus it may catch it and stop it (unless you click to “allow” the program, which you may very well do if you think it’s an important update…) but even so it’s best not to test it. You could end up with anything from mostly harmless but machine slowing adware, to much more serious things like a rootkit keylogger. Earlier this month I found a keylogger on someone’s system. It turned out they were in the process of dealing with major identity theft, and until then hadn’t realized the cause.
If you just get this kind of thing once in a while on certain sites, then it’s likely that those sites are compromised with this sort of nasty “advertising”. But if you’re getting it where ever you go, you probably have some sort of adware in your system already. If you don’t know how to deal with that sort of thing yourself, find someone more computer savvy (or call me) to take care of the problem. And try not to click the junk in the mean time.
As always, make sure you’re running a good antivirus program. I like Bitdefender because they have a low footprint free option; but there are many choices out there – paid and free. Just be sure you haven’t fallen for a scareware software or installed a fake scanner like McAfee Security Scan Plus (all that thing scans for is if you have antivirus, and if you don’t it tells you you need McAfee).
And if you are downloading something, check where the file is coming from. If any kind of update isn’t coming from the same place you got the software initially, it’s more than likely not an official update.