What are dialers and how to defend yourself

Dialers are special viruses that change the settings of the Internet connection replacing the telephone number with a paid one

With the diffusion of the ADSL connection, dialer viruses have almost practically disappeared. Almost, in fact. After the peak reached in the early 2000s, with thousands of Italians infected by dialers, it seemed that the spread of ADSL had stopped the malware. But in reality it is not like that and it is continuing to reap victims.

But what is actually a dialer? Calling it a virus is actually a mistake. A dialer is a self-executing program (.exe) that changes the settings of your Internet connection and replaces your phone number with a paid one. The famous 899s that have a per-minute charge that can easily exceed five euros. With the ADSL connection and the fact of being always connected, dialers have known a phase of decline. But with the arrival of smartphones and tablets, they have experienced a second youth and have started to infect users' devices again.

The most exposed people remain those who use a slow connection such as Dial-Up and ISDN, since the dialer directly replaces the number with which to connect to the Net, but lately they also hide behind websites that offer paid content (wallpapers, images, videos). Defending yourself against dialers is possible, but you need to be very careful while surfing online.

What are dialers and how do they work

Dialers are not illegal per se. Many companies use them to charge users for content they sell online. In fact, thanks to dialers, the cost of the service offered is credited directly to the phone bill and there is no need for a credit card. When, however, a company makes use of dialers without warning the user, installing the executable file on the computer under false pretenses, then the scam is triggered. And in most cases, companies do not warn the user about the real costs of using dialers.

Companies use tricks to install dialers on users' computers that are not legal. For example, they guarantee that the offered content is free, the only requirement is to install a software on the computer, which is also free. In reality, that program is a dialer that makes the user connect to a paid number. And the cost is charged on the phone bill, with the user not immediately realizing that he has been scammed.

How to defend against dialers

To defend against dialers you need to know the most common ways used by scammers to install the executable file on users' computers. In addition to hiding dialers behind seemingly free programs, hackers send the malicious software through email messages. They upload it in the form of an attachment and through devious messages convince the user to install it. The advice is always the same: if you do not know the sender of the email or you are not sure about the text of the message, it is better to delete it. Besides, they are very difficult to detect and the user cannot immediately notice its presence. And in case the dialer is found, the software does everything to block the uninstallation. It may happen that after deleting the program, the dialer will automatically reinstall itself. In such cases you need to force your hand and block the software from accessing your computer.