Fake antivirus software accounts for 15 percent of all malware on the web, according to a study recently released by Google. From January 2009 to February 2010, researchers for the search engine analyzed 240 million webpages and found more than 11,000 domains containing rogue antivirus software scams. Google also discovered that the amount of infected domains steadily increased each week of the study. The company concluded in a statement: “The fake antivirus threat is rising in prevalence, both absolutely and relative to other forms of web-based malware. Clearly, there is a definitive upward trend in the number of new fake antivirus domains that we encounter each week.”
Fake AV software, also known as “scareware,” “rogueware,” or “rogue security software,” tricks victims into downloading malware. For instance, a typical scareware scam will appear as a pop-up warning indicating that the user’s computer has been infected with a virus. Frightened of the potential damage, the victim will then purchase and install the “recommended” software. Instead of protection, however, the victim has downloaded malware, and his/her credit information is in the hands of a cybercriminal.
Scareware is also becoming a major nuisance for high-profile sites that depend on advertisements and ad networks. Rogue antivirus software accounts for nearly half of all malware distributed via ads. Major sites like The New York Times have already been exposed to rogueware. Scareware applications also often use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, such as keyword stuffing and link farming, to trap additional victims.
Once again, cyberscams are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent, so be sure to protect yourself with premium antivirus software in order to stay one step ahead of those tricky cybercriminals.