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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: It was only a matter of time...
By really on 10/20/2009 1:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
The truth is most people who are computer users are not computer experts. They do and will make mistakes. Having AV software for the average user is a great idea whether or not it is free or paid for. I would still suggest that people buy a program as many of the free ones seem to be easily fooled. I have on many occasions installed Symantec and had it find viruses and then and only then will AVG and some of the others finally report there is a virus.
The best thing is for users to be as well informed as possible but they are going to fall short somewhere. Regular maintenance of your computer is a great thing. Using it as a form of virus remove is far more time consuming than having AV Software that works and tells you as soon as a virus/trojan/malware. That's like saying well robbers are going to come into my house anyway so I just leave the doors open. A couple of times a year I just blow up my house and rebuild.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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