Google: Scareware is a Big Hit

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Simon Heron

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Google has analysed 240 million web pages over a 13 month period and discovered that fake anti-virus programs account for 15 per cent of malicious software, according to a report by the BBC.

The study expresses surprise that people fall victim to these attacks, and even hand over credit card details. The problem is, scareware doesn’t always come in one easy to recognise form.

Most users should have an up-to-date anti-virus suite on their computers, and so logically they should realise that they don’t need any more protection, but something obviously gets in the way of the users thought process when confronted with the dreaded dialogue box.

They don’t know the risk – the user may be from a vulnerable group and easily exploited or they may be completely in the dark about computer security.

Apathy -  the user may be at the end of a long day and just want to get on with what they logged on to do – clicking on anything to make the annoying box disappear.

Panic – scareware targets people in the safety and comfort of their own homes. Often throwing out alarming warning messages, offering to perform free system scans and bringing back even more alarming results.

Design – most programs aren’t designed to make saying ‘no’ easy. There may be no visible way to close the dialogue box down without clicking on an option.

Sometimes the only choice is to close the browser window down completely or use task manager to kill the process, which makes it more difficult to avoid for those who just want to be left alone.

The tendency is to click first and think later which results in the installation of malware.  So if something pops up on the screen that you’re not expecting to be there – don’t click it.

 

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