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Fake antivirus programs claim 30 million victims

Discussion in 'Tech, Gadgets & Science Forum' started by MaxShimba, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. MaxShimba

    MaxShimba JF-Expert Member

    Oct 17, 2008
    Joined: Apr 11, 2008
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    More than 30 million Internet users have fallen victim to fake antivirus programs that snatch up people's money and personal information, security research firm PandaLabs has announced. The phenomenon may not be a new one, but it's growing more and more popular as the scammers are getting more crafty. There are now over 7,000 variants of this type of adware, says PandaLabs, and the number of infections caused by it is increasing rapidly.

    Users can get infected with this fake antivirus scam in the same manner as any other type of virus or malware—by downloading questionable content from P2P networks, opening e-mail attachments from unknown addresses, or visiting malicious web pages. As most of us already know (probably by servicing the computers of our parents and other less-tech-savvy family members), users are often duped by seeing the software pop up windows that claim the machine is infected, fake bluescreens, or cause other annoyances (PandaLabs notes one where cockroaches crawl all over the desktop).

    Many users are motivated to fork
    over money to get rid of this ASAP While many Internet users know not to hand over private information or credit card numbers just because of a few pop-ups, PandaLabs estimates that three percent of them have provided personal details to the purveyors of products that claim to disinfect computers. "Extrapolating from an average European price of €49.95, we can calculate that the creators of these programs are receiving more than €10 million per month," writes PandaLabs.

    That is, of course, ignoring the greater financial implications of users handing over their credit card numbers to scammers—the firm notes that, if those numbers are being used fraudulently, then the cost to consumers is obviously quite a bit higher.

    Of course, the fact that 30 million users may have fallen for such a scam doesn't surprise us too much. A recent study by the Psychology Department of North Carolina State University revealed that most Internet users don't exercise much caution when presented with fake dialog boxes and pop-up windows with obvious warning signs of malware. Additionally, security software maker AVG found earlier this year that men tend to be much more confident about their online security knowledge than women, but they both end up suffering from identity theft in equal amounts. It just goes to show that even when users talk the talk, they don't always walk the walk when it comes to being safe online.

    Report: Fake antivirus programs claim 30 million victims