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Scareware cold-callers target 1 in 4

Bogus software scam riles UK.gov

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A quarter of internet users have received a cold call from cyber criminals falsely claiming their computer is infected with a virus, the government said today.

The con is designed to obtain banking credentials and control of the target machine. Victims are told they need to download software that will remove the infection, but in fact it monitors their activity and reports personal data back to the criminals.

Despite press reports on the scam going back more than a year, the security minister Baroness Neville-Jones said today that 80 per cent of internet users are unaware.

The government is highlighting the problem to launch Get Safe Online week, its attempt to educate the public about basic digital hygiene.

"While it's encouraging to see that UK web users are today more security-aware, criminals are often one step ahead and will use increasingly sophisticated methods to take advantage where they can," said Neville-Jones.

"However, equipped with the right information, there's no need for anyone to be deterred from going online or from protecting their computers with the right security software."

The campaign was launched under Labour in 2005, and is now being promoted as part of the Cyber Security Strategy, which received a £650m boost in the recent review of security spending. The website with more information is here. ®

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