Rogue security software, also known as fake antivirus software or “scareware”, has been one of the most popular methods used by online criminals in recent years to fool computer users into installing malware and/or divulge confidential information. Rogue AV software typically mimics the general look and feel of legitimate security software programs. Once installed on a person’s machine, it will claim to detect a large number of nonexistent threats while advising users to pay for the “full version” of the software to remove the threats.
Some versions unlawfully use looks, colors, trademarks and icons of well-known AV software companies (Symantec, AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, Kaspersky and McAfee are just a few examples) to help sucker users into downloading, installing, and ultimately “purchasing” the bogus software. Part of the reason that rogue security programs continue to be successful is that they are very convincing. Microsoft reports that over 4,173,491 United States users were infected with some variant of Rogue AV during the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2012.
Do you think you could tell the difference between a real security program and a rogue security program if it popped up on your computer screen? If you are up for it, take the Microsoft Malware Protection Center’s “Real Vs. Rogue” challenge by clicking here.
Microsoft also has a fantastic series of Security, privacy, and online safety how-to videos that that are perfect for educating computer users on common threats found on the Internet today.