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Rogue security software threat will grow in 2010, warns report

Warwick Ashford

Rogue security software is set to increase in the next year, according to a report from security firm Symantec.

Researchers have identified 250 distinct types of fake security software, with 24% of the top 50 most common kinds introduced in the past year alone, the report said.

Symantec has warned businesses and other computer users to avoid becoming victims of rogue security software sold through nearly 200,000 websites.

Some 93% of bogus security software is downloaded intentionally by victims who believe they are buying added protection against security threats, the report said.

Researchers estimate that cybercriminals can earn more than £850,000 a year by tricking people into buying bogus security software, also known as "scareware".

One of the most common ways of advertising this scareware is through bogus malware alerts with links to the rogue security software.

The software provides little or no protection and may even install malicious code or reduce the overall security of the computer, according to Symantec researchers.

A new generation of organised criminals is earning more than 34 times the average UK worker's salary from tricking people into buying fake security software, they said.

The information buyers enter such as name, address and credit card details are also captured by cybercriminals to sell on or use for further online fraud, the report said.

In addition to regular antivirus updates, spyware detection and network traffic monitoring, Symantec said the best defence against scareware is user education.

Organisations should educate their end users about these scams, how to avoid them and how to report suspected rogue security software suppliers, the report said.

"Administrators should monitor vulnerability mailing lists and security websites to keep abreast of new vulnerabilities in web applications," the report said.


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