Security & Privacy + Software & Apps

Rogue Security Vendors Show that Crime Pays

Posted on December 15th, 2009 by

We have talked here in the past about rogue security software: this has nothing to do with Sarah Palin, but is software that pretends to be security software, but turns out to either do nothing (but collect the money you paid for it) or installs spyware or other malware. (See the articles here and here, as well as a discussion of the economics of scareware.)

The Internet Crime Complaint Center has issued an intelligence note warning users that rogue scareware poses serious threats to computer users. Many of these programs begin by displaying pop-up ads that tell you that your computer is compromised:

An ongoing threat exists for computer users who, while browsing the Internet, began receiving pop-up security warnings that state their computers are infected with numerous viruses.

In addition to the cost that users pay for software that they think will rid them of (non-existant) security threats,

Downloading the software could result in viruses, Trojans and/or keyloggers being installed on the user's computer. The repercussions of downloading the malicious software could prove further financial loss to the victim due to computer repair, as well as, cost to the user and/or financial institutions due to identity theft.

What's most interesting in this alert, is that this turns out to be very big business. The FBI reports that scareware has already cost some $150 million to victims of these scams.

We’ve said it here before, but it’s worth repeating: computer security is too serious an issue to trust companies who just happen to pop up in your search results. Trust a brand, like Intego, with more than ten years of experience, and who is a specialist in Mac security software. Intego VirusBarrier X5 also ensures that you don't get tricked by blocking all known Mac scareware. So keep your Mac safe, but make sure you choose the right software to do so.

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