Local McAfee distributor, Workgroup has warned consumers that scareware, or fake antivirus software, may be the most costly online scam in 2010, causing significant monetary loss and damage to users’ computers.
“Scareware is the first scan outline in McAfee’s new Consumer Threat Alert program, available to all following a simple sign up at www.mcafee.com/consumer-threats-signup, that warns consumers about the latest and most dangerous online threats with inside intelligent made available through McAfee Labs,” says Andrea van der Westhuizen, McAfee product manager at Workgroup.
Scareware, she says, is one of the most prevalent, dangerous and sophisticated online scams, victimising an estimated one million people around the world every day. “McAfee Labs reports that cybercriminals make profits upwards of R2-billion worldwide from scamming consumers with scareware.
“Fake antivirus software pops onto a users’ screen and alerts the user that his or her computer may be vulnerable. To disguise the scam, cybercriminals create legitimate looking logos of fake security companies.”
The pop up prompts the user to scan the computer for vulnerabilities, which he or she does not realise are fake, or even purchase “security software”, which is actually malware in disguise. Cybercriminals get unsuspecting victims to input their credit card information, granting criminals’ access to the users’ computer and bank details. Criminals have targeted every region of the world with fake antivirus software.
McAfee reports a 660 percent rise in scareware over the past two years, and a 400 percent increase in reported incidents in the last 12 months but its Consumer Threat Alerts program helps consumer stay ahead of evolving and sophisticated threats.
“Subscribers can expect to receive periodic email alerts about how to recognise the latest online dangers and tips on how to stay safe,” says Van der Westhuizen. “The threat information is presented in easy to understand language with examples, and includes tips on how to avoid threats as well as information for users who suspect they may have become a victim.”