Feeds

Scareware victims seldom fight back

Too embarrassed or too ignorant?

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Victims of rogue anti-virus scams rarely attempt to claw back fraudulent credit card payments for worthless software packages, according to new research.

Security blogger Brian Krebs contacted victims of scareware scams after coming into possession of a list of users duped into buying rogue anti-virus packages. The data came from caches of data maintained by rogue anti-virus affiliates, a key sales channel for scareware developers. The information included the amounts charged to victims (between $50-$100) and partially obscured credit card numbers, as well as the names, addresses and email contact details of scareware clients.

In one case only 367 out of more than 2,000 victims disputed the charge with either their banks or scammers. Payments in this mid-April campaign were made to either Browsing Solutions, Moscow, or EBD-Software.com. A second campaign pulled in 1,600 marks, only one in 10 of whom challenged charges.

Krebs contacted several victims directly. One unwittingly bought rogue anti-virus while searching for legitimate security software and didn't realise he'd bought scareware until Krebs got in touch. Another US victim told Krebs that he knew he'd been victimised but didn't contest the charge because he was too embarrassed to admit he'd been taken for a ride.

Victims told Krebs that they decided to buy scareware packages after their machines became unusable. The hijacking program appeared to disappear after they made a purchase.

Krebs added that even the minority of victims who realised they'd been conned got anywhere when they complained to their banks. "None of the victims I was able to track down had successfully reversed the charges with their credit card provider, although a few did have the charges canceled after contacting the phone number listed in the customer support e-mail," Krebs writes.

"Some said they had tried to contact their credit card provider or the scam company but got the runaround and simply gave up."

Purveyors of rogue anti-virus are growing more sophisticated in their approach to doing business, which partly involves preventing victims from raising a stink. Some scareware scammers have even begun to offer live support.

Kasperky's Nicolas Brulez has written up his experiences with a scareware support agent (which turned out to be almost certainly a real person based in the Ukraine, and not a bot) in an interesting blog post here.

As well as avoiding chargeback rogue anti-virus firms also attempt to generate sales in the first place, of course. One group of chancers even went as far as buying ads on Google so that one of the sponsored ads for searches on the term "malware" pointed towards a rogue anti-virus website, Sophos reports.

The approach is an alternative to the more traditional approach of manipulating search results for newsworthy subjects so that scareware scam portal appear prominently in the search results for targeted terms, a process known as black-hat SEO. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?