Feeds

Ex-anti-virus chief in spyware scareware scam charges

Double bluff

High performance access to file storage

The ex-chief of a South Korea-based anti-virus firm has been charged with using bogus security warnings to shift anti-spyware software of questionable value.

Lee Shin-ja, 41, former CEO of Media Port, has been charged with fraud over the alleged distribution of bogus security software to almost four million internet users. Aggressive marketing tactics including the use of fake security warnings were allegedly used to frighten punters into purchasing Media Port's clean-up program Doctor Virus at a cost of 3,850 won ($4) a month. The trial software displayed warnings that systems were infected irrespective of whether they were clean or not.

An estimated 4m South Koreans are reported to have tried the free software, with 1.26m people going on to purchase the full version of the package. Prosecutors allege that Lee hired two computer programmers, who have also been charged, to assist in a scheme that made an estimated 9.2bn won ($9.8m) over the last three years.

Complaints from punters over the effectiveness of the service led to an investigation by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, resulting in the arrest of Lee and her two alleged accomplices for fraud. Lee told journalists that she had left Media Port but made no other comment on the case.

An unnamed spokesperson for Doctor Virus claims the current version of their software is above board. "We solved the problems when prosecutors started the investigation," an unnamed company official told local news outlet JoongAng Daily. "Now, everything is normal."

Local market conditions lead to South Korean users sometimes running multiple security packages, which can play into the hands of the unscrupulous, according to security watchers.

"Unlike many other countries, it's not uncommon for South Korean computer users to run multiple anti-virus programs at the same time - probably because many of their homegrown solutions don't come with an on-access scanner," explained Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "This environment increases the likelihood that people will download and 'test the water' with a product they stumbled across on the internet. Unfortunately it seems there are cybercriminals desperate for increasing marketshare who are prepared to scare users into making an ill-informed security purchase." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.