Rogue security software attacks increaseMicrosoft report highlights the rise of scareware

08 April 2009

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Computer attacks from rogue security software that steals your personal information have increased, according to a Microsoft report released today.

Fake security software, also known as ‘scareware,’ plays on people’s fears and their desire to keep their computers protected.

The rogue software lures people into buying protection with fake dialogue boxes telling them that they have a computer virus. This protection, unknown to the user, is actually malware offering little or no real protection and in some cases stealing personal information.

Read our guide to Best Buy security software.

Microsoft report

The Microsoft Security Intelligence Report shows that such programs are now among the top threats around the world. For example, two rogue families, Win32/FakeXPA and Win32/FakeSecSen, were detected on more than 1.5 million computers by Microsoft software, catapulting them into the top 10 threats in the second half of the year.

In addition, Win32/Renos, a threat that is used to deliver rogue security software, was detected on 4.4 million unique computers, an increase of 66.6 percent over the first half of 2008.

Which? technology editor Matthew Bath said: 'Criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to try and dupe the unsuspecting consumer into giving away personal details.

'But it is possible to stay safe just by adopting a cautious attitude. Make sure that your security software is up-to-date, don't respond to unsolicited pop up messages that tell you have a virus, don't click on links in emails and don’t download programs unless you're on a website you trust.'

Online safety

Vinny Gullotto, general manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, said: ‘We continue to see an increase in the number of threats and complexity of those threats designed to implement crime at a variety of levels online.’

‘But as Microsoft and the industry continue to improve the security of our products and people become more concerned about their online safety and privacy, we see cybercriminals increasingly going after vulnerabilities in human nature rather than software. By working with others across the industry, Microsoft is helping combat the next generation of online threats through a community-based defense resulting from broad industry cooperation with law enforcement and the public.’

Released twice a year, the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report uses data gathered from hundreds of millions of computers worldwide to provide a snapshot of new and emerging computer threats.

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