Web and email security specialist GFI Software, the firm behind the VIPRE software suite, has sounded a new warning over fake antivirus applications after seeing a spike in new variations of rogue AV in the past few weeks.
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In its latest monthly report of the most widespread threats on the internet, GFI reported that rogue malware remained a very popular tactic among cybercriminals.
The apps are generally distributed through spam emails containing malicious links to the Blackhole exploit, a tool that can be used to target unpatched vulnerabilities in major software packages, GFI said.
Users are subsequently directed to fraudulent websites, or deluged with pop-ups and scareware that attempts to trick them into handing over credit card data to buy non-existent security products.
A similar scam in operation in 2010 caused alarm among resellers, many of whom said they had been left to pick up the pieces after end-user customers fell victim to con artists posing as Microsoft tech support workers.
"As always, no matter how convincing they look, always take the time to evaluate any piece of software that claims your PC is infected, prompts you for a credit card number or asks you to share any sensitive data, especially if it's software that you or your employer did not install," said GFI senior threat researcher Christopher Boyd.