You know spyware and virus, malware and DDOS, Trojan of horse fame, phishing and worm. But do you recall the brand-newest threat of them all? (apologies to Johnny Marks). Well, the Federal Trade Commission does: it's called "scareware," and late last week, the FTC slammed two of the biggest scareware providers with an asset freeze and a temporary injunction.
What is "scareware?" Arstechnica.com's report explains it thus:
Scareware-selling companies would contract with reputable websites to display advertisements on behalf of other reputable companies, but would poison the ads in question. Once clicked, visitors were actually redirected to a vendor-controlled website, which would then "scan" their computer and amazingly enough, find evidence of damage or infection. Cue the appropriate links, websites (just $39.95), and a few minutes later the result is one scammed customer who has just paid good money for nothing. The thieves, meanwhile, earn extra points if they manage to nick a credit card number in the process.
Some typical examples include Antivirus XP, DriveCleaner, and WinFixer. Drop by the Trend Micro blog for an animated portrayal of a typical Antivirus XP attack, which includes a replacement desktop wallpaper with no way to change it and a scary-looking fake BSOD screensaver.
So, who wound up in the FTC's sights? Innovating Marketing, Inc. and ByteHosting Internet Services, LLC. They join an increasingly long list of online crooks the FTC has taken down, including CyberSpy (maker of the RemoteSpy keylogger) and spam pushers HerbalKing and Atrivo.
If you need to clean up Antivirus XP or other scareware apps, try the free utilites on this Cnet.com thread.
Have you (or "a friend") been taken by a scareware vendor? Have other suggestions for cleaning up other scareware infections? Hit Comment and help turn infected PCs from "bad" to "good" in time to make Santa's "nice, not naughty" list.