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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 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."


"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis











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