Bangalore: Cyber thieves are increasingly planting fake security alerts that pop up when computer users are surfing on the internet, and millions of U.S computers are infected by this Scareware, according to a report by Symantec.
While surfing on internet, an alert warns the user of a virus and offers security software (Scareware). Sometimes this software is offered for free and sometimes a user has to pay for it. What users don't realize is that they are paying for something that will make their computer more vulnerable to attacks. "Lots of times, in fact they're a conduit for attackers to take over your machine. They'll take your credit card information, any personal information you've entered there and they've got your machine," said Vincent Weafer, Symantec's Vice President for Security to CNBC. Some rogue software have ability to rope a user's machine into a botnet, which is a network of machines taken over to send spam or worse.
Symantec found 250 varieties of scam security software with legitimate sounding names like Antivirus 2010 and SpywareGuard 2008, and about 43 million attempted downloads in one year but did not know how many of the attempted downloads succeeded, said Weafer. "In terms of the number of people who potentially have this in their machines, it's tens of millions," Weafer added.
"What surprised us was how much these guys had tied into the whole affiliated model," Weafer said. "It was more refined than we anticipated."
TrafficConverter.biz, which has been shut down, had boasted that its top affiliates earned as much as $332,000 a month for selling scam security software.