We all know the internet can be risky business if we're not careful. Nobody wants their PC or personal information compromised for fear of a virus or spyware infecting their PC. Preying on this fear are the developers of misleading applications, aka "Rogue AntiSpyware/Antivirus" software.
Beware of false alerts
Misleading applications usually present themselves when users are surfing the web and use scare tactics to convince people that their systems are infected. Users are tricked into downloading these programs onto their computer by the sudden appearance of security messages indicating that the PC is infected. Quite often, these messages windows pose as Microsoft Windows alert boxes. Once installed, the software makes false claims about the security of your system, often installing a virus itself to slow down your system to create greater effect. The application will then make promises of being able to fix the bogus problems when the “required” software is purchased and installed.
Users who trust these messages are conned into purchasing bogus applications for resolution of the problems they have been hoodwinked into believing exist. Misleading applications scam consumers out of money, faking the existence of problems and failing to deliver the protection they promise. They also create a privacy risk, as the victim must provide their credit card information to the scammers in order to register the misleading application and solve the supposed problems.
Misleading application example - Antivirus 360
An example of one of these misleading applications, and there are many, is Antivirus 360. Below are some screen shots illustrating the tactics used to infect a user's system.
1.A user is surfing the internet and encounters a pop-up message indicating the presence of viruses. These messages can look very realistic and convincing. If you encounter anything resembling the screens below, you should close your browser immediately—clicking anything, even the Cancel button, can be harmful to your system. The buttons will not always behave the way you think they should.
Pop-up example 1
Pop-up example 2
2.When the user clicks OK (see example 1) or Remove All (see example 2), the misleading application is installed. (Remember, even clicking the cancel button can be harmful to your system.) It then performs a fake scan of your system – installing a real virus to slow down your PC and create greater effect. The scan results produced by the misleading application may be completely false or may include some real issues affecting the system, but will always exaggerate the problems on the system and refuse to fix them until the vendor is paid and a registration key is entered into the program.
Example of Antivirus 360's fake virus scan
What you can do to protect yourself
•Be especially cautious when clicking on pop-up advertisements—especially ads promoting system security or performance tools that look like a standard Microsoft Windows alert
•Do not accept or open suspicious error dialogs from within the browser
•Install and use legitimate security software to proactively protect yourself against virus and spyware security risks.
•Keep software and security patches up to date
Some known misleading applications:
The list below is in no way inclusive, but highlights some of the more prevalent Misleading Applications you may encounter.
•Antivirus Pro 2009
•XP Protection Center