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Fake Anti-Virus Sites On The Rise

February 25, 2009

The number of fake anti-virus web sites is on the rise, security experts warned on Wednesday.

Hackers are using “scareware” to convince people that their computers are infected with a Trojan virus so that they will purchase fake anti-virus products.

Last year several sites selling fake products were shut down in the US, but the number of sites continues to grow.

Matthew Woolley, chairman of the Independent Trade Association of Computer Specialists, told BBC News he has seen more than 300 users in the past six months visit his repair shop with a computer infected by fake anti-virus software.

“This week, we’ve seen fake AVG anti-virus that was so good, one of my engineers was convinced that it was the real thing,” said Woolley.

“If we can’t tell, what hope is there for Joe Public?”

Hackers have gone so far as to place fake parking tickets on cars that instructed them to visit a Web site to “view pictures with information about your parking preferences.” Once they visited the site, a Trojan was downloaded that prompted users to install fake anti-virus software.

Last week hackers targeted Facebook users with a false “Error Check System,” which was harmless, but when some users Googled the term, they were directed to a number of Web sites that claimed to have information on the supposed threat, but actually installed malware on their computers.

“This application automatically sent itself to all your friends, saying there was a problem,” Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with anti-virus firm Sophos, told the BBC.

“People panicked and did what most of us would do and put the term into Google to see what it was.”

“Although Google has now addressed this, over the weekend, the first three or four links would take them to a dodgy site that would tell them that they were infected with a virus. It’s rather a strange coincidence.”

Tim Danton, editor of PC Pro magazine said: “It doesn’t take any expertise to copy a website and make it look realistic.

“What we have to rely on is that the public is aware enough to look not only at the logos but at the domain and URL. People need to download from reputable sites and if users are unsure, then tools like McAfee site advisor can help,” he said.

“The fight between the bad guys making fake-anti virus software and the good guys trying to warn the public about their activities is a constant one. Trouble is, at the moment, the bad guys are winning.”

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