Fake anti-virus scams on the rise: Google

A Google study released Tuesday says fake anti-virus pop-ups account for 15% of all malware on the Internet.

Fake AV is when a window pops up online warning that spyware or a virus has been detected and prompts users to install an anti-virus update, or something to that effect.

However, these pop-ups aren’t related to legitimate anti-virus programs.

When users click on the pop-ups, they install malware — malicious software designed to infiltrate your computer.

In some cases, the pop-ups can be very convincing in their design, lulling users into a sense of false security.

“More recent fake AV sites have evolved to use complex JavaScript to mimic the look and feel of the Windows user interface,” according to Google’s report. “In some cases, the fake AV detects even the operating system version running on the target machine and adjusts its interface to match.”

Google analyzed 240 million web pages between January 2009 and February 2010 and discovered 11,000 domains involved in fake AV distribution. Fake AV made up half of all malware distributed via advertisements.

And those numbers are going up. In the first week of January 2009, Google encountered 93 unique fake AV domains. In the last week of January 2010, they found 587.

Over the course of the 13-month study, fake AV increased to 15% of all malware from 3%.

Google cites advances in software security as a reason for the rise in user-targeted scams. As it gets harder to exploit weaknesses in computer software, scammers instead exploit weaknesses in people’s knowledge.

“As computer systems become more difficult to compromise, social engineering is an increasingly popular attack vector for enticing users to provide the same information without requiring any vulnerability,” said Google.

From the Ottawa Sun

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