Pattaya Daily News

26 March 2010 :: 15:03:21 pm 16701

Cybercrime 1: Scareware

What better method of marketing than invoking fear, one of THE best selling techniques, probably considerably more effective than flattery, creating false needs, or even greed, the normal methods. One company in Ukraine, Innovative Marketing, made millions of dollars from making viruses, malware, adware and bogus anti-virus programs, not to mention getting countless people’s identity details, which can then be sold on to those in the cyber-scam network, as well as of course, the piece de resistance, getting their credit card details.
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The employees of Innovative Marketing were stereotypical, you can find them in scams the world over, from boiler rooms and time-share merchants to property and real estate companies. The individuals are young, computer whizzes, industrious, well paid and unethical, relishing the fillips like bonuses, catered holiday parties and picnics with paintball competitions.

Innovative Marketing started as an internet company, selling pirated music, pornography downloads and Viagra, as well as bogus versions of Symantec and McAfee anti-virus software. Forced to quit this area because of legal action, its next resounding success was scareware, from which it is estimated that it made $180 million in 2008, as the hub of a network reaching from Eastern Europe to the Persian Gulf and from Asia to the United States. Thankfully, it’s now been closed down. Another, a Russian syndicate earned US$146,000 in just 10 days!

Scareware works by ostensibly scanning a computer for viruses, then freaks the unfortunate out by informing them that their machine is riddled with viruses. It then advises you to buy their program to rid your machine of these viruses at a cost of US$50 – 80, asking that you pay by credit card, which it then sells on to other scam merchants. And usually, the program doesn’t even work. What’s more the program may even download other malicious software onto your computer that may steal personal information from your hard drive. Or worse, it may install ransomware, programs that make some of your data inaccessible until you pay a ransom fee!

There are over 9,000 varieties of these scareware programs on the Internet currently, according to a recent article in USA Today. They are promoted by networks of hackers who get a fee each time they seduce a victim.

Scareware, aka rogueware or fake antivirus software, has become one of the fastest-growing, and most prevalent, types of internet fraud. Microsoft, testing for just one scareware program, found 4.4 million machines were infected. It is estimated that some 35 million PCs worldwide, i.e.  3.5% become infected with these malicious programs, every  month, netting  US$400 million annually for these  cybercriminals.

How To Recognize Scareware

These manifest as:

  • pop-up windows appearing during Internet browsing, indicating you have viruses or errors in your system registry
  • screenshots mimicking the Blue Screen of Death informing you your system has crashed.
  • hoax “prankware – a  frightening graphic may open on your screen or a dialog box may open saying “Delete all files on your hard drive?” with only an “OK” button, but no ‘X’ close box button.

How It Gets Into Your Computer

  • by clicking false links and email attachments
  • links embedded in comments about videos on YouTube and in “tweets” on Twitter.
  • messages offering to update a legitimate piece of software on your computer but is, in reality, a scareware download.
  • hijacked web pages
  • search results on Google, ads and other online services.

Invariably, even when you suspect a scam, you can’t close the warning window without launching another one and, worse still, you might not even be able to close your browser

Protection methods

  • install legitimate Internet security software from Symantec, McAfee, Trend, AVG or Kaspersky.
  • scan your whole system to eradicate scam programs that have got onto your machine
  • never click on a pop-up that says your PC is infected or offers a free scan.
  • don’t even click on the “no thanks” or “X” close box; either close your browser or hold down the Control-Alt-Delete keys to bring up the Windows Task Manager and then, under the Applications tab, select the browser and choose “End task.

Reporter: Taliesin Verity (Chief-Reporter)

Photo : Internet   Category : Society

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