fake antivirus

Symantec’s SMB director for the Pacific Region Steve Martin says crooks have duped millions of customers into buying fake antivirus security software products. And the middlemen peddling the dodgy wares have grown fat on the proceeds.

At best the programs do nothing to protect computers from viruses and other threats. However, some of the fraudulent applications on offer contain malicious code which can give crooks access to data or worse.

Plausible sales pitch

Martin warns the companies selling these programs online have a plausible-sounding sales pitch. In some cases they place advertising with Google and other ad networks. It turns out Google does not take responsibility for the advertising it serves up.

But more often visitors to web sites stumble across pop-ups delivering what looks like a legitimate message telling people their web site security needs updating. These can resemble genuine operating system warning messages.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the scam is the way people are lead to a safe-looking payment page. Here they are asked for credit card and other details. Many unwitting consumers who have handed over these details find the criminals then hand their private information on to other crooks. They can then extract more money from their accounts.

Symantec’s fake antivirus warning stems from an internally produced study report on rogue computer software.

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