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.
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.
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.”
In very faint print, you can see “Ads By Google.” That indicates that this is a pop-up ad inserted by Google.
If I hover my mouse over the pop-up (without clicking on the Fix now button), I can get some more information about it.
I can see that this comes from Google Ad Services.
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.
Right-click and you’ll see a menu. Click Update Driver Software to search for driver updates.
Be very careful about clicking on update notices. You can always go back to any program later to see if it needs an update.