Monday, 19 October 2009

Fake “Virus” warning scams rising

The anti-virus manufacturer Symantec says it has discovered up to 250 different cases of fake anti-virus and so-called “scareware” scams that are being distributed through 200,000 web sites across the globe.

Scareware is designed to worry the victim into visiting a web site and handing over money – invariably via credit card, which obviously then gives the criminals access to those card details.

The most common form of scareware is the fake anti-virus warning, which actually comes from a virus infection. A message will pop up on your screen, warning you that your PC has dozens of virus infections, and offering software to get rid of those viruses. In fact, it may be the case that the only virus you have is the scareware.

This type of scareware effectively hijacks your computer and can prevent a user from opening any document or programme. The virus warning will continuously pop up, until the user accepts what appears to be the inevitable and pays the required amount to rescue their PC. This is usually around £40 and is in no way guaranteed to get rid of the infection.

Because the losses to each individual are small, the police don’t usually bother investigating. Even if they did it is likely to prove exceptionally difficult to track down such criminals across the world. Also, by paying the money the user may not realise they have been scammed as they may get the use of the PC back. However, some weeks later they could suddenly find their credit card being used without their authority.

The best advice is to have a reputable anti-virus software installed and working at all times. Interestingly, Symantec, who have released this survey, are the makers of the extremely common Norton anti-virus. Many IT professionals have exceptionally little faith in Norton as an anti-virus product! The IT Dept uses, and sells, BitDefender anti-virus and security products. If you are concerned at any virus warning on your PC give us a call first, before giving your money away. Our contact details are on our web site.

© Michael Donkin 2009