Fake Anti-Virus Programs Used to Hijack and Block Computers, According to PandaLabs

October 14, 2009

GLENDALE, Calif., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ — PandaLabs, Panda Security‘s malware analysis and detection laboratory, has identified a new, more aggressive trend cyber criminals are using to sell fake anti-virus programs, otherwise known as rogueware. Cyber criminals are now combining rogueware with ransomware, hijacking users’ computers and rendering them useless until victims purchase fake anti-virus programs.

The fake program that PandaLabs has discovered, called Total Security 2009, is being offered to victims for approximately $79.95. Victims can also purchase ‘premium’ tech support services for an additional $19.95. Users who pay the ransom receive a serial number that releases all files and executables, allowing them to work normally and recover their information. The fake anti-virus, however, remains on their systems. PandaLabs has published a list of serial numbers that victims can use to unblock their computers, as well as a video demonstrating how this scam operates, at: http://pandalabs.pandasecurity.com/archive/Rogueware-with-new-Ransomware-Technology_2221_.aspx.

Previously, when computers were infected by this type of malware, users would typically see a series of warnings prompting them to buy a paid version of the program. The new method of selling rogueware blocks users’ attempts to run programs or open documents, displaying a message falsely informing them that all files on their computers are infected and the only solution is to buy fake anti-virus.

“Users are often infected unknowingly – in most cases through visiting hacked Web sites. Once a computer is infected, it is extremely difficult to eliminate the threat, even for those with a certain degree of technical knowledge,” said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs. “Users are also prevented from using any type of detection or disinfection tool, as all programs are blocked. The only application that can be used is the Internet browser, conveniently allowing the victim to pay for the fake anti-virus. For this reason, on the PandaLabs blog, we have published the serial numbers required to unblock the computer if it has been hijacked. Users can then install genuine security software to scan the computer in-depth and eliminate all traces of this fake anti-virus.”

“The way this rogueware operates presents a dual risk: First, users are tricked into paying money simply in order to use their computers; and second, these same users may believe that they have a genuine anti-virus installed on the computer, thereby leaving the system unprotected,” adds Corrons.

“This shift toward hijacking computers indicates either that users are becoming more adept at recognizing these threats or that security companies are beginning to close the gap on this highly sophisticated level of cybercriminal behavior. This would explain why hackers are becoming more aggressive in the methods used to force the victims into purchasing fake anti-virus programs.”

PandaLabs recently published a report about the lucrative business of rogueware. The report is available at: http://www.pandasecurity.com/img/enc/The%20Business%20of%20Rogueware.pdf

About PandaLabs

Since 1990, its mission has been to detect and eliminate new threats as rapidly as possible to offer our clients maximum security. To do so, PandaLabs has an innovative automated system that analyzes and classifies thousands of new samples a day and returns automatic verdicts (malware or goodware). This system is the basis of collective intelligence, Panda Security’s new security model which can even detect malware that has evaded other security solutions.

Currently, 94% of malware detected by PandaLabs is analyzed through this system of collective intelligence. This is complemented through the work of several teams, each specialized in a specific type of malware (viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, phishing, spam, etc), who work 24/7 to provide global coverage. This translates into more secure, simpler and more resource-friendly solutions for clients.

More information is available in the PandaLabs blog: http://www.pandalabs.com.

SOURCE Panda Security

Source: newswire

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