5.4 percent of all PCs compromised in 2010 were infected with a fake antivirus
PandaLabs, the antimalware laboratory at Panda Security, reported today that 40 percent of all fake antivirus strains ever produced were created in the past year. In the four years since rogueware was first reported, 5,651,786 unique strains have been detected, of which 2,285,629 appeared between January 2010 and October 2010.
When comparing the number of rogueware specimens to the total number of malware specimens included in PandaLabs’ cloud-based Collective Intelligence database (the company’s automated detection, analysis, and classification system for new threats), 11.6 percent of all specimens are rogueware. With PandaLabs’ database containing every malware specimen detected in the company’s 21-year history, the percentage of fake antiviruses is staggering, particularly considering that rogueware first appeared only four years ago.
The sophistication and social engineering techniques used in creating rogueware are the basis of its success, as illustrated by the increasing number of victims of these scams. So far in 2010, 46.8 percent of all computers worldwide have been infected with some strain of malware, almost 10 percent of which were rogueware infections.
In some cases cybercriminals are even providing “fake support” for antivirus products, trying to extract even more valuable information from users.
Some popular fake antivirus malware programs along with the infection rates as detected by Panda Labs:
- SystemGuard2009 12.5%
- MSAntiSpyware2009 11.67%
- MalwareDoctor 8.14%
- AntimalwareDoctor 7.21%
- AntivirusPro2010 4.57%
- SecurityMasterAV 3.62%
- Adware/SecurityTool 3.38%
- ISecurity2010 2.81%
- SecurityEssentials2010 2.39%
Hackers make money by selling fake antivirus software and then selling the credit card data acquired through those transactions on the black market, or using those credit card numbers to make online purchases. Data has become the hacker’s currency. More data, more money. So the attack logic is simple: more attacks equal more money.
Even though rogueware first emerged in 2006, it was not until 2008 that this type of malicious code really started to proliferate. Users can become infected simply by browsing the Web, downloading fake codecs for media players or clicking links in fraudulent emails. Once they have infected a system, these applications try to pass themselves off as antivirus solutions that have detected hundreds of threats on the user’s computer. When the user attempts to remove the threats using the fake antivirus solution, they are asked to purchase the ‘full’ product license. Unfortunately, many people panic when they see this message and fall for the bait. Once they “buy the license”, they will of course never hear from the ‘seller’ again, and the fake antivirus is still on their computer.
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