Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Fake online anti-virus growing

fake_anti_virusFor users seeking to quarantine their computers by using anti-virus software available online, fake anti-virus (FAV) is a growing, invisible threat.

While it’s much easier to identify a malicious software code received through spam mail, or other suspicious attachments, fake anti virus (FAV) are making it difficult for users to escape from them, because such ‘pop ups’ usually offer to remove viruses from an ‘infected’ computer.

“The programmers will create websites with almost any major event like Obama’s swearing in, Michael Jackson’s death, major terrorist attacks, or any natural phenomenon including solar eclipse,” said Mr Abhinav Karnwal, product marketing manager, APEC at Trend Micro an AV company. “They will even make up events like the meteor shower which was a hoax and ensure their websites figure within the first two pages of a search result. When one clicks on any of these links he may be forced to download these FAVs,” he added.

Experts tracking cyber crime say these FAVs can cost anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 6,000, with malicious code writers making around $10,000 on a good day.

According to computer security firm PandaLabs, only 1,000 samples of FAVs were reported during the first quarter of last year. However, by the second quarter of this year, such instances have reached 3,74,000. Malware, which is short for malicious software, has been growing exponentially during past few years. Last year, over 1.5 million attacks were detected by McAfee, and the number has already hit 1.2 million for the first half ending June this year.

When, Nirmalya Gupta, a teacher by profession from Kolkata and a home PC user was trying to gather some knowledge about the meteor shower, his PC suddenly got a pop-up saying the computer was infected. A dialogue box prompted him to click and start a new browsing session, which made him download ‘anti virus’ software.

“I was asked to pay around Rs 500 for downloading the full version, and cleaning the entire PC, I did that because my documents were important,” he said.