Monday, March 16, 2009

Security Fix: Massive Profits Fueling Rogue Antivirus Market

Brian Krebs writes on Security Fix:

In the cyber underworld, more and more individuals are generating six-figure paychecks each month by tricking unknowing computer users into installing rogue anti-virus and security products, new data suggests.

One service, that exemplifies a very easy way these bad guys can make this kind of money is, one of the leading "affiliate programs" that pays people to distribute relatively worthless security software. Affiliates are given a range of links and Javascript snippets they can use to embed the software in hacked and malicious Web sites, or tainted banner advertisements online.

Unsuspecting users who view one of these hacked sites or ads see a series misleading warnings saying their computers are infected with malware, and offering a free scan. Those who agree are prompted to download a program that conducts a bogus scan and warns of non-existent threats on the user's system. The software also blocks the user from visiting legitimate security Web sites. The user is then pestered with increasingly deceptive and incessant prompts to purchase the software.

The user's system remains in this state until he or she figures out how to remove the software or relents and pays for a license. At that point, the affiliate responsible for generating that installation is paid by about $30. The software is sold for between $50 and $75 per license.

More here.


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