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Scareware threat continues to rise, with security experts attempting to do everything they can to limit the damage

Security company Symantec disclosed that online criminals are cashing in by scaring PC users into downloading exploited anti-virus software.

In the past 12 months, more than 40 million people across the world have been tricked into installing 'scareware' software.  Specifically, criminals trick PC users into downloading a piece of software -- anti-virus and anti-spyware are two popular program types -- that are malicious pieces of software so they are able to acquire credit card information and other sensitive information.

In addition, some criminals create pop-up alerts telling PC users they face a serious risk, then offer fake anti-virus software that can be used to clean up the computer.  The catch?  The software costs money, and users still end up being compromised by the fake software.

"Obviously, you're losing your own hard-earned cash up front, but at the back end of that, if you're transacting with these guys online you're offering them credit card details, debit card details and other personal information," Symantec employee Con Mallon told BBC.  

The 43 million were victims of the scareware threat from July 2008 to June 2009, when researchers began collecting information.

The overall threat of identity theft and bank fraud continues to increase as criminals use more sophisticated techniques to compromise PC users.  Furthermore, even more people around the world are now using the Internet to view bank information, pay bills, and shop online.

Cracking down on criminal enterprises tends to be extremely difficult, with many organized hacker groups operating in Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, and other locations in which it is difficult to identify suspects.

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RE: Millions of PC Users Tricked by Scareware
By PhoenixKnight on 10/20/2009 12:33:53 PM , Rating: 2
Or you can install AVG antivirus for $0 and not have to worry about re-imaging the drive. How well does Acronis True Image protect against trojans and malware that steal your passwords and personal information, by the way?

RE: Millions of PC Users Tricked by Scareware
By enlil242 on 10/20/2009 12:55:06 PM , Rating: 2
To each their own. I do not prescribe to false senses of security, when I can prevent things from happening on my own. My computing activities do not take me to the "red light districts" of the web, so I don't need to carry a rubber... Good luck with AVG, if you are careless, you will certainly need it.

I will note that I do use Win Patrol... That is the only utility that I use...

RE: Millions of PC Users Tricked by Scareware
By PhoenixKnight on 10/20/2009 2:29:01 PM , Rating: 2
I have been to completely legit sites, including Anandtech among others, with infected banner ads that have been caught by AVG. In fact, most of the viruses I've come across were from ads legit sites. Admittedly, though, in the rare instances where I did visit "red light districts", I was getting warning after warning from AVG.

AVG is useful for catching anything that slips through, but, strangely enough, the thing I've found to be most effective at preventing infections is actually Adblock Plus. Simply installing Adblock on computers that get constantly infected brought the number of infections to virtually zero.

I have switched over primarily to Linux for the past year-and-a-half, so between careful web browsing and an OS that's unaffected by almost all malware out there, I don't worry about malware at all anymore. I use Windows 7 for gaming, but little else, so I haven't even bothered to install an antivirus at all.

By enlil242 on 10/20/2009 2:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
Tracking cookies from affiliate links will often generate alerts from some AV solutions. Doesn't mean they are bad, but more of a "here's what just happened" message. Although they are a source of revenue on most blog sites, I rarely click on banner ads...

Like I said in another post, to each their own. I find that WinPatrol and being mindful of what I am doing is enough for me. Plus I ALWAYS have a full backup image of my C drive... "just in case."

By Villains on 10/20/2009 2:59:12 PM , Rating: 2
Except most people use their computer for more than just checking the weather.

How old are you? 60?

Thats like saying, i dont need condoms because i only sleep with chicks who are disease free or virgins.

Not using AV is a dumb idea regardless what your thoughts on the matter are.

And reformatting a PC takes longer than a hour or 2. Unless like i said, all you have ever done is check the weather on your PC and never installed a single thing.

RE: Millions of PC Users Tricked by Scareware
By enlil242 on 10/20/2009 12:56:16 PM , Rating: 2
Also, I doubt your free program will restore your computer if your hard drive crashes, whic for me, is more likely to happen...

By tmouse on 10/21/2009 8:00:11 AM , Rating: 2
That's not what it is supposed to do. It's a free antivirus program. You use them both if necessary. Your re-image program is only as good as the date of your current image. Every time you add ANY file you better have a backup or else you will lose that information. There are very few things that are designed to crash a computer outright. Those that do are not really a threat since they cannot propagate well. It's usually a combination that accidently causes the problem. If you save images regularly they could be infected as well and just need a co-infection to cause a problem (your half way there). Even AV programs are not fool proof but at least offer some notice. If you install an infected program win patrol will not help at all since you are already giving permission for the install. Many trojans either gain exceptions or piggy back on legitimate communications to get the information out after they are in place. Hard drives should rarely crash, if that is "more likely to happen" you probably already have corrupted images.

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