UK issues `scareware` alert to web users

Last Updated: Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 00:01

London: Britain has launched an initiative to warn security-conscious internet users about a new scam which plays on their knowledge and fear of cybercrime to empty their bank accounts.
Rogue anti-virus, AV scams, fake malware and scareware are all terms to describe the highly organised criminal operation identified this week by Get Safe Online, a joint initiative between the Government, Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the private sector.

The scam imitates the style of trusted IT brands to issue phoney alerts and frighten web users into believing their computer has been compromised.

The solution it offers is a ruse to get access to the computer and steal personal financial information. The scam works this way: A web user gets a pop-up on screen or a cold call from an IT `help centre` claiming that their computer might be infected by a virus or other malicious software. They are offered a free scan to identify the threats.

If they accept, an authentic looking anti-virus scan appears to take place. In reality, this is no more than an animated sequence.

The scan finds a frightening list of infections and recommends software to fix them.

There is a charge for downloading the full anti-virus package and the user unwittingly hands over their bank account details to a criminal organisation.

To bypass the user`s own security software the scam provides details of a call centre to talk the user through the installation process.

The call centre staff effectively direct the unsuspecting user to disable their genuine anti-virus software so the malicious software can run.

Some of the fake call centres have been found to employ hundreds of people.


First Published: Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 00:01

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