New Twist to Anti-virus Scareware

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It appears the latest round of anti-virus (AV) scareware comes with something new: the ability to accept payments via SMS.


According to a CNET article:

Typical rogue security programs infect the system first, then display pop ups warning that the computer is infected, and request payment to clean it up. The new programs are seemingly more genteel, asking for the money before the program is installed and infects the system, said Achal Khetarpal, threat research director at CyberDefender. Of course, a payment does nothing to "fix" a system and means criminals now have your money and possibly your credit card information.
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The article continues to report that CyberDefender has seen five versions of the scareware, making it seem like the offer is coming from AV companies Avast, Norton, McAfee, BitDefender and RootKitBuster. The fake AV offers different methods of payment: credit card, WebMoney and SMS.


One other change in this new strain of scareware is that the program won't install if smart users click cancel when offered the chance to purchase the "protection." More typical fake AV will have already infected the computer by the time users see the message.


Fake AV might seem like one of those things that any computer-savvy person would know to avoid, but it is tricky. It nailed me last year because it snuck past my real AV software. A contact who works in security told me that he almost fell for a fake AV alert.