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Fake Antivirus Accounts For 15 Percent of Malware Online

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.

The Google report sheds light on several trends related to fake antivirus software. In addition to an increase in the overall amount of scareware on the web, this variety of malware is also becoming more sophisticated. According to the Google report, “More recent fake AV sites have evolved to use complex JavaScript to mimic the look and feel of the Windows user interface…In some cases, the fake AV detects even the operating system version running on the target machine and adjusts its interface to match.”

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.

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4 Responses to Fake Antivirus Accounts For 15 Percent of Malware Online

  1. Denis Olson says:

    I was reassured after visiting your site that your free PC Tools Antivirus software was not likely to be a scam. I downloaded your free software from the Google site in one of their bundles. What had me worried was you “found” 189 “infections”. Your log did not identify the file/files affected nor what action was taken to “remove” the “infection”.

    I am computer literate. I have many files on my system. I can’t afford to rely on “stumbling onto” 189 files that may or may not have been infected.

    I’m not in a position to be buying anything not essential to living.

    • PC Tools says:

      Hi Denis! Legitimate PC Tools software from a certified retailer is definitely not a scam. Is your computer now virus-free?

  2. anetress m says:

    I got tricked by SystemTool in January, kept me up for 2 extra hours. It does mimic Windows Interface and was so convincing. The more click, the deeper it gets into your system. Thank goodness for BleepingComputer.com. They let me to your site for some fixes, as well as some others. It was very scary at first. It’s sad that folks are out there bored and create stuff like this. I’m very leery of what I click and download now, more than ever.

    thanx for this blog!

  3. anetress m says:

    sorry for the typos up there….I meant “the more you click” and “They led…”

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