Don’t Fall for This Fake Windows Update Prompt! (It’s Actually Malware)

Don't Fall for This Fake Windows Update Prompt! (It's Actually Malware)

One of the basics of good cyber hygiene is keeping your computer operating system and software updated. So, when you see a prompt for an update, it may be second nature to click it so you can ensure any new security fixes are applied.

Unfortunately, there is a type of ransomware that’s using the disguise of a Windows update to fool unsuspecting users. This is a particularly insidious tactic designed to trick people into believing they are installing a legitimate Windows update when, in reality, they are inviting malware into their systems. 

“Big Head” is the name of this new ransomware variant that masquerades as an update to Windows. If you get it on your system, it can encrypt all your files, making them unusable until you either recover from a backup or pay the ransom demand. 

Next, we’ll explore this emerging threat, explain how it works, and provide tips on how to protect yourself from falling victim to this deceitful scheme.

How Does Big Head Ransomware Work?

Ransomware is one of the costliest types of malware. It’s been used to shut down hospital systems, food manufacturing facilities, and even oil pipelines. The hallmark of ransomware is that it encrypts or otherwise makes your system files unusable. They can’t be opened; thus databases of company information are made completely unreadable by the applications that depend on that data.

Companies will typically come to a standstill after being hit by ransomware. The attackers demand a ransom to provide the decryption key. It’s important to note that when dealing with criminals, there is a high chance that even if the ransom is paid, the files will still remain lost.

Australia is one of the 10 countries most targeted in ransomware attacks. 

Tactics Used by Big Head to Fool Users

  • Infiltration: The attack typically begins when a user inadvertently infects their system with malicious code. They may do this by visiting a compromised website or clicking on a malicious link in an email or instant message. Once the code is in their system, the user will at some point see the fake Windows Update prompt.
  • Deceptive Interface: The fake update prompt closely mimics the appearance of a legitimate Windows Update dialog box. It can include Windows branding, logos, and progress bars to make it appear genuine.
  • Sense of Urgency: To further convince users of its legitimacy, the prompt may use scare tactics, such as claiming that critical security updates are required or that the system is at risk. This creates a sense of urgency, pressuring users to take action.
  • Download and Execution: If the user decides to proceed with the “update,” they unknowingly download and execute malware onto their system. In the case of Big Head ransomware, this action results in data encryption and a ransom demand.
  • Damage Control: Once the malware is executed, it can wreak havoc on the user’s system by encrypting files, stealing sensitive information, or facilitating further attacks.

Protecting Yourself from Fake Windows Update Prompts

Knowledge is the first step to avoid becoming a victim of Big Head ransomware, as well as other types of malicious attacks. Share this knowledge with your team, so that everyone can be informed and on the lookout.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to this nefarious scheme.

Verify the Source

Does the Windows Update prompt look different than you’re used to? Do you have automatic updates enabled, so should not be seeing a prompt at all? Ask these types of questions before you click on any update.

Legitimate Windows updates typically come directly from Microsoft’s official servers. Be cautious when prompted to download updates from unfamiliar websites or sources. Always question and verify.

Check for Authenticity 

Examine the update prompt carefully. Look for signs of deception, such as typos, grammatical errors, or inconsistencies in the design. Just because an update message looks nice and doesn’t have typos, doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. However, if you do see an error, it can be an easy tip-off that it’s not the real thing.

Enable Automatic Updates

To reduce the risk of encountering fake update prompts, enable automatic updates for your Windows operating system. This way, your system will receive genuine updates directly from Microsoft without requiring your intervention.

You can schedule when these updates happen so that they won’t interrupt your work. You can also have your updates performed for you automatically by GKM2 as part of a managed services plan.

Use Reputable Security Software

Install and regularly update reliable antivirus and anti-malware software. These programs can help detect and remove malicious files before they can cause problems.

Backup Your Data

Regularly back up all business data, including data in cloud tools like Microsoft 365, to an external device or cloud storage. In case your system is compromised by malware, you can restore your data without succumbing to ransom demands.

Stay Ahead of Cyber Threats with Help from GKM2

Big Head ransomware is a concerning development in the world of cybersecurity. These deceptive tactics exploit users’ trust in system updates, making it imperative for individuals to stay vigilant and informed about potential threats. 

GKM2 can help your Sydney area business with solid cybersecurity solutions and services to keep your data protected and your company moving forward.

Contact us today to learn more. Call +61 2 9161 7171 or reach out online.