PandaLabs has noted an increase in cyber-crooks’ use of malware under the guise of fake antivirus products to defraud users. These applications, classified as adware by PandaLabs, pass themselves off as antivirus utilities and often appear on the Internet as free downloads. Alternatively, they can be concealed in other files downloaded by users, including music or video files.
Once on a system, they often operate as follows: they tell the user (who is often unaware that the application is on their system) that a virus has been detected. They then invite them to buy the full version of the antivirus to disinfect the computer.
If users don’t purchase the antivirus, it continues displaying non-existent infections and pop-ups inviting users to purchase the security software, which in reality does not detect or delete anything. If they buy it, they will have paid for a useless program. This is how cyber-crooks reach the main objective: to profit financially through malware. Additionally, to prevent users from checking whether they are genuinely infected or not, these programs usually try to block the web pages of real online antiviruses, security companies, etc.
How to avoid falling victim to fake antivirus products?
- Be careful with what you install: On many occasions these programs are associated with other downloads. i.e. users can download a legitimate program and one of these programs can be included in the package. Usually, there is a non-installation option. PandaLabs recommends users to carefully check the programs that are entering the computer during the download.
- Ignore emails with eye-catching news or subjects: Many of these programs have been distributed in recent weeks using social engineering techniques — sending emails with eye-catching subjects. These emails invite users to click a link to watch a video or images of the false news. If they do, they will be allowing some kind of malware to enter their computer, e.g. fake antiviruses.
- Be wary at the slightest indication of trouble: If a program you don’t remember installing begins to display false infections or pop-ups inviting you to compare some type of antivirus, watch out. Most likely one of these malicious programs has been installed
- Keep all the programs up-to-date: An outdated program can be a vulnerable program. Consequently, you should keep all applications installed on the computer up-to-date, since many malicious codes use existing computer vulnerabilities to enter and infect them.
- Scan your computer with a reliable security solution: You are advised to periodically scan your computer with a trusted security solution. This way, if one of these samples is resident on the computer, it can be detected and eliminated.