Anti-Spyware Offer Revealed As Front For Hackers

Dennis Faas's picture

Hackers are now hiding viruses in the last place you'd expect to find them: anti-spyware software.

The elaborate scam allows hackers to get access to users computers. And for added measure, they even take credit card details on the way. The scam works by posting adverts on big-name websites. A random selection of these ads produce a pop-up window with a fake warning that the user's computer is infected, and offers a download of an anti-spyware program, paid for by credit card. The download, which comes under more than 40 different names such as Spyshredder, is actually a Trojan virus.

The hackers then cash-in three times.

  • They take the user's money for the supposed software.
  • They sell the credit card details.
  • And they even sell access to the infected computer.

A spokesman for anti-virus firm Messagelabs said the scheme is so profitable because it brings together so many different types of scam. "What we're seeing a lot of is the convergence of attacks and groups of cybercriminals working closely together, there's a network of bad guys out there."

According to Don Jackson of Secureworks, the scam is the work of hackers using Russian Business Network services (RBN), an Internet service provider with a reputation for hosting criminal content. (Source: ZDNet)

The scam is particularly effective because it uses adverts on well-known, reputable websites. Chenxi Wang of Forrester Research says the adverts are placed through Google or Yahoo rather than directly with the website. The affected websites have no direct content with their advertisers, and often don't even know who they are. And while Google and Yahoo do some vetting, it's not always possible for them to identify scam ads. (Source: eweek)

The best way to avoid such scams is to only ever install software produced by a reputable firm and to only download it from the manufacturer's website.

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